Thursday, 15 October 2015

Review: Lois Lane: Fallout by Gwenda Bond

I am by no means a comic book junkie. I don't go to Comic Con, and I couldn't name heroes or villains outside those featured in multi-million dollar blockbusters. Not that there's anything wrong with any of that—let your geek flag fly! I just want to establish that in spite of my inexperience with the superhero genre, I loved Gwenda Bond's novel Fallout

Not only is Fallout a fantastic modern retelling of the Superman story, but it takes a talented author to write a page-turning mystery with characters who are so well-known to readers. And Bond does do them justice, capturing fearless Lois and mild-mannered Clark in their teenage years. 

Summary: Lois Lane is starting a new life in Metropolis. An Army brat, Lois has lived all over — and seen all kinds of things. (Some of them defy explanation, like the near-disaster she witnessed in Kansas in the middle of one night.) But now her family is putting down roots in the big city, and Lois is determined to fit in. Stay quiet. Fly straight. 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, a guy she knows only by his screen name, Smallville Guy…

Although Clark Kent has a strong presence in the book,  he remains off-page throughout the story. While this was a disappointing twist, Lois does not need Superman to save her. She is no damsel in distress. This is Lois' victory —with a tiny bit of Super help, of course. Clark and Lois met on an online chat forum for the strange and supernatural, but they've never actually met. Instead of a pair of glasses, Clark hides behind a screen name and alien avatar. Clark and Lois have a "more than friends" vibe, but the romance angle is extremely PG.

I love that the book revolves around illegal experimentation with simulation gaming and technology's effect on the mind. As Lois and her friends work together to crack the case, they risk losing a lot more than a few friends to the pack of brainwashed teens.

Although the publisher indicates that this book is for readers ages 14+, it's actually a clean read (clean language, mild violence set in a video game, etc). If it wasn't for the length of the book and the detailed narrative requiring a confident reader, I would be recommending this story to middle graders. 

The world has been calling for more female superheroes and Gwenda Bond gives us a female hero we can rally behind. If you, like me, enjoy the odd Marvel movie, you liked Smallville, or you're just a fan of the Man of Steel, Fallout is a fantastic choice. Smart, witty, and incredibly well-written. Lois Lane is the female [mortal] superhero you've been waiting for!

4 Stars

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