Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Lois Lane: Fallout by Gwenda Bond

When Lois Lane, 16, and her family moved to Metropolis, she promised her Army General dad she would be good.  An Army brat, Lois has moved and attended a lot of schools resulting in a lot of phone calls home from the Principal's office.  The plan now is for her to not make waves, to fit in, to make friends, but she no sooner enters her new school's administrative office on her first day to pick up her program and you know the plan isn't going to work.

Lois overhears as young girl named Anavi telling Principal Butler that she is being bullied by a group of students called the Warheads, that they are messing with her mind, and making it hard to do her work.  When the Principal waves away her complaints, threatening her with a psych evaluation, Lois can't restrain herself - wanting to know what the school's policy on bullying is.

Learning her reputation has preceded her, Lois isn't taken any more seriously than Anavi, at least not by the Principal, but his guest, Mr. Perry White, feels differently.  He hands Lois a business card and tells her there's a job for her as a reporter for the Daily Scoop, an stylized  online teen-oriented magazine that's part of the Daily Planet, if she's interested.

Interested? You bet, and Lois can't wait to share this news with her online friend (crush?) SmallvilleGuy, someone she has never met, never seen and only knows he lives in a farm in Kansas.  The two met in a chat room and have been messaging each other ever since.

Managing to get through her first day at East Metropolis High, Lois heads over to the Daily Planet. There she meets three friend possibilities: Maddy, the style editor and music lover, James Worthington III news writer and son of a former infamous mayor of Metropolis; and Devin, web designer and "master of all things computronic" who is also an avid Worlds War Three gamer.  Here, Lois is clued in about the Warheads and how they are part of the Worlds War Three game, along with Anavi.  Lois decides the first story she does will be about the bullying Anavi is experiencing and the Principal's blind eye to it.

What would seem to be a simple story about high school bullying, however, turns into a much more complex one about cyberbulling than she, a non-gamer, could ever have imagined.  And what results for the reader is a exciting, fascinating look at ethics or rather the lack of them among school administrators, game designers, and game players.

Worlds War Three is a game played with a device called a holoset that is placed over the ear and the player is immediately immersed into this virtual world that feels more real than reality simply becomes visual right before the players eyes.  The developers of the game have been experimenting with the Warheads in mind control, creating a hive-mind where all members act in perfect sync.  But the Warheads are getting stronger than even they expected and they're looking to recruit the best gamers to strengthen themselves even more.  Is novice-gamer Lois up to the task of breaking the Warheads mind control ability that can now reach into another person's mind and mess with it?  

Comic book characters are among some of the most organic characters ever written.  They are re-imagined every decade, updated to make they appealingly relevant to a new generation.  And Lois Lane is not different.  Gone is the conniving, manipulative Lois of the past, always trying to discover Superman's secret identity and getting him to marry her, a damsel in distress always needing to be rescued as she rescued as she pursued stories for the Daily Planet.

In her place, Gwenda Bond has written a real kickass teenage Lois, who still gets into dangerous situations, but she is no damsel.  She is a budding investigative reporter, willing to accept help from her friends when she needs it and has a strong moral sense, which is why she decides to take on bullying.

Lois Lane: Fallout is an exciting novel, the first in a series.  It's smart, up-to-date and, I was happy to hear, the first in a series.  There are some things in the novel that are wonderfully understated.  For one, it is nicely, quietly diverse, and even though you know who SmallvilleGuy is, it's never actually mentioned.  Bond keeps her focus on her main character, developing who Lois is and what her new life in Metropolis is like; who her family is (overbearing General Lane, smart, sweet gamer little sister Lucy, quiet mom), who her new friends might be, and on her budding journalistic skills.

If you are looking for a fun, smart, well-written novel about a favorite comic book character, Lois Lane: Fallout is the book for you.  I can't wait for Book 2.

Already read Lois Lane: Fallout, loved it and want more?  Or haven't read it, but are just curious about Bond's Lois? You can download two short Lois Lane stories on Gwenda Bond's official website HERE

This book is recommended for readers age 12+
This book was received from the author at BEA 2015

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