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.
It’s no secret that I constantly seek inspiration from fellow journalists, especially remarkable women like Nellie Bly. What you might not know is that I’ve loved Lois Lane long before I became a student journalist. I was always the kind of little girl who wanted to marry a superhero, not a prince. And I wanted to be a superheroine even more. Lois Lane, though she lacks extraterrestrial abilities, is a superheroine in her own right with her bravery and dedication to her duty as a journalist, to seek truth and report it.
Needless to say, I was thrilled when I heard that there was going to be a YA novel about Lois.
Lois Lane: teenage rebel by day, ace reporter by night
Gwenda Bond’s version of the iconic female reporter reminds me a lot of Erica Durance’s portrayal of the character on “Smallville.” And that is definitely a compliment! Lois (in both “Smallville” and “Fallout”) is a force to be reckoned with. She’s clever and brave. She’s constantly looking out for her friends. And she’s so sassy! I love it!
I don’t want to turn this into a rant about proper reporting, but I cannot tell you how relieved I am that Lois and her friends are journalists who care about legitimate sources, fact checking, the protection of their sources and the integrity of their publication! Newsflash! Student publications are real publications, not amateur tabloids. I feel like too many YA authors — and people in general — make student journalists seem so far beneath writers for “The New York Times” or “The Washington Post.” Lois has the vivacity and dedication to truth that I would see in a fellow student journalist at a national convention.
Gwenda Bond created a character who is true to the original comics but also feels like modern teenager. She’s the epitome of teenage rebellion (strict father included), always arguing with her father and defying school authorities.
My only complaint about Lois is that I feel like I got so swept up by her actions and didn’t see enough of her emotions. One of the reasons I love YA so much is the common theme of growing up and becoming more you (if that makes any sense). I really wish there were more scenes with Lois’s family, so I could see more of what makes her so rebellious. Throughout the novel, she was fairly calm. While I noted her bravery, I really wanted to see her get so angry she could punch a wall — not that recommend doing that — or shout something she regrets; I wanted to see her so frustrated she wanted to cry. I wanted to see her without the strong, fearless facade that she always has up because I know there’s more underneath:
“The problem with having friends was that you might lose them. Or they might get hurt.”
But to be fair, this is only book one. I’m sure there is much more character development to come before the series comes to a close.
“Fallout” has such a well-rounded cast of both original and comic characters that add to the story.
The Lane Family: Like I said earlier, I really wish there were more scenes with Lois’s family. General Sam Lane is everything you’d expect him to be: strict, protective, intimidating. I really hope we get to see a heart to heart scene between him and Lois in one of the books. Lois’s little sister, Lucy, is adorable. The sister dynamic between Lucy and Lois reminds me of my relationship with my older cousins (I was always surprise attacking them).
The “Daily Scoop” Staff: I’m skeptical of the idea of an online news publication with such a tiny staff, but I can see that “The Daily Scoop” is well on its way towards becoming a publication worthy of its association with “The Daily Planet.” I really like the way Perry White is portrayed in “Fallout.” I wasn’t fond of the drunk old man in “Smallville.” Perry takes one look at Lois and decides that her brashness and blatant disobedience are signs of a brilliant reporter. He pushes the staff and isn’t afraid to tell them when they messed up. He reminds me a lot of my own newspaper adviser. The staff is a really fun, diverse group. I loved everyone: popular rich boy James, geeky smart Devin and quirky indie-loving Maddy. Their clashing personalities and attitudes add humor and really interesting relationship dynamics. When they actually work together, they are unstoppable.
SUPERMAN: Readers looking forward to lots and lots of Clois will be a bit disappointed. I cannot begin to describe how sad I am that Clark Kent doesn’t physically appear in the novel. I am a huge Clois shipper. I literally spent the last two hours looking at Clois posts on Tumblr. Clark appears in the novel as Lois’s secretive online friend SmallvilleGuy. I think the way they met is creative, and their friendship is super adorable — he sends her pictures of a baby cow on his farm! — but doesn’t make an impact quite like face to face interaction. I can’t wait for him to make a physical appearance. All of the hints about his powers have me giggle-snorting like a fool. Love the dramatic irony.
Plot, pacing and nefarious schemes
I have really mixed feelings about the conflict in this book (creepy company uses video game to brainwash teens until they act like a singular unit with one brain). It reminds me a lot of the Summerholt Institute plot in “Smallville,” with the whole secret-research-facility-experimenting-on-minors thing.
The part I didn’t really like was the “real-sim tech,” technology that allows gamers to play is if they are actually in the digital world. Don’t get me wrong. I would be the first person to advocate a real-sim version of Pokemon, and I love sci-fi novels, but the video game concept seems so out-of-place in a setting that otherwise resembles modern-day America. It makes the plot stray from the classic comic book feel that I yearned for and more like “Ready Player One.” The two concepts just clashed, in my opinion.
Some parts of the plot were a bit predictable, but I still enjoyed the book. The pace is quick, especially as the climax comes nearer, and there’s plenty of sneaking around.
“Lois Lane: Fallout,” much like the first issue of a comic, is an introduction to a series that promises action, character development and more. It is a must-read for fans of “Smallville.”
Gwenda Bond writes with both clear appreciation for the original story of Lois and the refreshing nature of a YA author. Lois Lane is exactly the kind of heroine that girls needs. She has no superpowers of her own, but she exemplifies the difference between having no superpowers and being powerless. She has a sharp mind, a skeptical eye, a brave heart and a dedication to what is right. She is a heroine in her own right. At the same time, she is a teenage girl with normal problems: looming parental disapproval, confusing boys (one in particular) and the curse of always getting into troublesome situations. She has a distinct voice, full of sass, and a certain presence that tells you not to mess with her.
I do wish that I had gotten to see a more vulnerable side of her, but I look forward to seeing wonderful character development in future books.
The plot leaned too far towards the futuristic sci-fi side for my liking, but the book was fast-paced and full of Lois-style investigating.
I can’t wait to read more about Lois and the staff of “The Daily Scoop.” And I impatiently await the appearance of Clark Kent.