Title: Lois Lane: Fallout
Author: Gwenda Bond
Publisher: Switch Press
Pub Date: May 1, 2015
Synopsis: 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 screenname, SmallvilleGuy
First thing I need to say is that I was a huge fan of Smallville back when its reruns ran on abc family. The show featured the transformation of awkward (yet ridiculously handsome) farmboy Clark Kent into our All-American hero: Superman. Lois Lane eventually enters the storyline, but she does not immediately become a love interest for Clark. So when I heard about this revamp of the bustling Metropolis, home of The Daily Planet, it went right on my list.
Because Lois Lane was always my favorite character. Even the off-kilter Kate Bosworth version of Lois was pretty awesome. Working up to the token epithet “intrepid reporter,” Fallout chronicles Lois’s entrance to the world of journalism. She quickly lands a job at the new high school publication with offices in the basement of The Daily Planet.
I heard many rumors that Fallout was comparable to a Veronica Mars mystery, and it held up on that front. I’m a huge fan of all things Veronica, so Fallout was a welcome visit back to high school feminist crime solving. Like Veronica, Lois is a girl who thinks on her feet and can talk her way out of a hot spot. Unlike Veronica, Lois is just discovering her affinity for investigative reporting.
The mystery plot itself is about mind control, bullying, and simulated reality video games. Lois’s ultimate goal, she keeps reminding herself, is to help her classmate Anavi, a victim of bullying, and she doesn’t hold back in pursuing the ultimate truth. She takes a lot of risks, some of which get her in trouble. Both Veronica and Lois seem to spend a great deal of time in the principal’s office, for one reason or another.
If you go into this book looking for a Clark Kent origin story like Smallville, you’re going to be disappointed. This is Lois Lane’s story – her origin story – and SmallvilleGuy (presumably Clark) is only a supporting character. There’s a little bit of romance hinted at, but from Lois’s perspective, SmallvilleGuy is still a mystery man, hiding lots of secrets. So don’t expect to see action scenes of a guy flying around in tights and punching bad guys.
Overall, I did really enjoy reading this. I got through it pretty quickly, and the plot is easy to follow (except where it gets science-y). If you watched Smallville, think of what an episode would look like from Chloe’s perspective. This one detail in Fallout stood out to me, and I had to share it:
[Lois is scanning the crowd in the lunchroom] "The Nerdfighter contingent would have been identifiable by the fact that half of the table was reading (or more likely re-reading) one of their favorite author's books - alternately laughing or weeping, depending how far in they were - even if a few weren't also wearing T-shirts featuring him and his brother, along with tiny video cameras for making their next vlogs beside their trays." -p 65-66
The fact that Nerdfighter is used straight up at the beginning is awesome, because the ‘favorite author’ is not mentioned by name, nor is his brother. (In case Nerdfighter is a new term for you, readers, it refers to the audience of John and Hank Green’s youtube vlog channel. Which you need to go check out immediately.) So what this all adds up to is a niche joke for Nerdfighteria. Yep, that’s what Nerdfighters mostly look like from the outside. We know this. And you know what? So does Lois. Yes, that’s right – Gwenda Bond has created a Metropolis in which Lois Lane knows who John Green is. And where Nerdfighters make up a clique in the lunchroom, which is really cool but where was that clique in my high school? I must have missed it, although to be fair Nerdfighteria hadn’t really reached full speed until somewhere around sophomore or junior year. And full heads-up bragging rights: I had a twitter convo with Gwenda Bond about this passage, which actually caught the attention of both vlogbrothers. I just about died when I saw John favorite one of the tweets. The internet is really cool sometimes.
Anyway… back to the review. For this fan of both Veronica Mars and Smallville, Lois Lane: Fallout was a really fun read. Lois as a teenager is basically what you’d expect her to be. If you’re on the fence about whether or not you’d like to read it, I’d advise you to check out these exclusive short stories which will give you a sense of how the novel feels, courtesy of the publishers.
About the Author
Gwenda Bond is the author of the young adult novels Lois Lane: Fallout and Girl on a Wire, among others. She has also written forPublishers Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post, among other publications. 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 www.gwendabond.com or @gwenda on twitter.
Readers, have you read Fallout? Any other Smallville fans out there?