I'll come out with it. Lois Lane and I? I don't know. We never really saw eye to eye when I was growing up. I'm not sure what it was, though part of it may have been that I was obsessed with the darker side of life, and the whole Superman scene was not my bag. But when I saw this book by Gwenda Bond, I knew I had to try it out. First of all, it's a YA novel, which I find I really enjoy reading these days. And part of the premise is that Lois is a bit of a troublemaker instigator, and, well...if you know me, you'll know that's right up my alley!
From the get-go, teenage Lois Lane proves to be a sympathetic character. She's starting in a new school, and is determined to make a fresh start with no more trouble. It seems her permanent record is large enough to have formed it's own gravity well, but not for reasons one might think. It turns out that Lois is a fighter for justice who stands up for victims of bullying and abuse. Because of this...well, she has a tendency to get into trouble.
Lois's voice pulled me right into the story from page one. All the major characters, in fact are three dimensional and have definite personalities of their own. Bond has mastered the art of having secondary character arcs in a first person point of view novel. Readers get to see aspects of all Lois's new allies, things that make them individuals and make the reader care about them. Even Lois's parents are portrayed in a way that makes them fully-fleshed characters. One criticism I have of some YA books is that they make adults out to be cardboard characters who just don't understand anything. Lois's parents may get in the way of Lois's goals sometimes, but we can see it's because they come from a place of caring. Even from within Lois's head, by their actions and gestures, we can sympathize with them even when Lois doesn't. Perry White, Principal Butler, and Ronda from the principal's office all have their own quirks and personalities.
The plot line of Lois Lane: Fallout is timely and relevant, and right up this geek girl's alley. Fallout deals with bullying, both in person and online, against the backdrop of online gaming and virtual reality. I felt that Bond really "got" the teen gaming culture, as well as the way people talk via internet chat. She captured the insecurities of trying to form a relationship via chat really well (something I remember well from back in my MUD days), the difficulties in judging if someone was being sarcastic or not or if their feelings were hurt. Unlike some YA and other books with a somewhat romantic subplot, Bond didn't go overboard with the insecurities, though. There was just enough to make it seem real, but not enough to make it agonizing or eyeroll worthy. Never once did I think, "Oh for Pete's sake, just shut up," which is what I often say in the midst of teen melodrama gone too far. A lot of authors don't get that teen romance is just like other romance, only perhaps a bit less mature. And when they make it seem ridiculous, even the teens think it's over the top. There is none of that here. SmallvilleGuy really cares about Lois--but most importantly, while he helps her, he never "rescues" her. He lets Lois be strong.
All in all, Lois Lane is a kick ass teen character who has a compelling voice and the personality of someone you'd want to spend way more than just one book with. The book itself was a fun, fast read--I read it in about 4 hours on a plane, and was possibly the most fun thing I've read in months. Adults and teens will enjoy this fresh take on a character I thought had gone stale--until now!
About Lois Lane: Fallout:
Lois Lane is starting a new life in Metropolis. Lois has lived all over and seen all kinds of things. (Some of them defy explanation, like the near-disaster she witnessed in Kansas one night.) But now her family is putting down roots in the big city, and Lois is determined to fit in. Stay quiet. Keep out of trouble. As soon as she steps into her new high school, though, she can see it won't be that easy. A group known as the Warheads is making life miserable for another girl at school. They're messing with her mind somehow, via the high-tech immersive videogame they all play. Not cool. Armed with her wit and her new snazzy job as a reporter, Lois has her sights set on solving this mystery. But sometimes it's all a bit much. Thank goodness for her maybe-more-than-a friend, someone she knows only by his screenname, SmallvilleGuy.
About Gwenda Bond:
Gwenda Bond is the author of the young adult novels Girl on a Wire, Blackwood, and The Woken Gods. She has also written for Publishers Weekly and the Los Angeles Times, among other publications, and just might have been inspired to get a journalism degree by her childhood love of Lois Lane. She has an MFA in Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, and lives in a hundred-year-old house in Lexington, Kentucky, with her husband, author Christopher Rowe, and their menagerie. Visit her online at gwendabond.com or @gwenda on Twitter.
Melanie R. Meadors is the author of fantasy and science fiction stories where heroes don’t always carry swords and knights in shining armor often lose to nerds who study their weaknesses. She’s been known to befriend wandering garden gnomes, do battle with metal-eating squirrels, and has been called a superhero on more than one occasion. Her work has been published in several magazines, and she was a finalist in the 2014 Jim Baen Memorial Science Fiction Contest. Melanie is also a freelance author publicist and publicity/marketing coordinator for both Ragnarok Publications and Mechanical Muse, an independent gaming company. She blogs regularly for GeekMom and The Once and Future Podcast. Her short story “A Whole-Hearted Halfling” is in the anthology Champions of Aetaltis, available now on Amazon. She is the co-editor of Hath No Fury, an anthology celebrating women in speculative fiction, which is currently on Kickstarter and includes stories from Seanan McGuire, Carol Berg, Elaine Cunningham, Bradley P. Beaulieu, Philippa Ballantine, Anton Strout, and more. Follow Melanie on Facebook and on Twitter as @MelanieRMeadors.