Lois Lane: Fallout is the latest YA novel from Gwenda Bond and follows the adventures of Lois Lane, a sixteen-year-old army brat with a chip on her shoulder and a nose for trouble. She’s convinced that East Metropolis High will be a fresh start, unlike all those other schools she’s been to, where her efforts to help people in need always seem to end up adding black marks to her permanent record. Straighten up and fly right is her brand-new mantra, but this goes awry instantly when she overhears a young woman complaining about bullying to the principal, who brushes her concerns aside, and Lois takes it upon herself to intervene.
By speaking up for Anavi, Lois accidentally makes herself the target of the young woman’s bullies, a gang of students known as the Warheads. Luckily, she’s not alone — help is provided by Perry White, an editor at the Daily Planet; Maddy, Devin, and James, her fellow young reporters at the Daily Scoop, the Daily Planet’s online teen-centric offshoot; her younger and more tech-savvy sister Lucy; and her closest friend, who she only knows by his online identity, SmallvilleGuy. The Warheads appear to be a vicious cyber-bullying group who harass players of a popular online game, but as Lois discovers, the truth is far more dangerous and insidious than she could have predicted. Will she be able to protect her new friends from harm and keep herself out of detention?
The plot of Lois Lane: Fallout is executed well, containing credibility both with regards to the mystery surrounding the Warheads and the way in which Lois conducts her investigation of the group’s actions. Lois is a smart, resourceful teenager with real-world flaws and limitations, and Bond frames her well within these boundaries. There are no impossible leaps of logic or, even worse, a suicidal insistence on doing everything alone. Lois reaches out to her allies repeatedly, trusting them to make up for the gaps in her own experience or knowledge as they all work together to stop the Warheads and the adults who permit their behavior.
Another aspect I really enjoyed was the portrayal of adults; in many YA-oriented titles, adults are universally the enemy, either directly hindering the protagonist or ineffectual figures who are essentially invisible. In Lois Lane: Fallout, Principal Butler is an example of the worst kind of school administrator — more interested in schmoozing with influential people than the welfare of his students — but Perry White mentors Lois in her journalistic ambitions, and Lois’ parents are an active and fully present part of her life. It’s refreshing to see teenagers act in age-appropriate ways, with potential consequences like detention or being grounded for a weekend, rather than behaving like independent adults who’ve been stuck in high school. Kudos to Bond for writing real people!
The setting is slightly futuristic with plenty of current technology, leaving Bond to tell Lois’ story without being bogged down by pages of techno-babble or exposition about the evolution of flying cars or meals in pill form. Holosets are gaming devices that project a video game’s events into the player’s field of vision, which isn’t too far off from current technology, and there are a few other nifty devices, but otherwise Metropolis is accessible and recognizable. And sure, there are online reports from central Kansas about strange seismic activity, and occasional night-time sightings of a flying boy in that general area, but the Internet is full of kooks with nutty stories. You can’t believe everything you read, right?
Speaking as a lifelong fan of Lois Lane, who has long felt that she deserves more attention both in print media and on-screen, I am happy to report that Lois Lane: Fallout exceeded my expectations. Bond’s prose and dialogue are fun to read, her characters are interesting, and the ending brought a genuine smile to my face. It is my sincere hope that Bond has more Lois Lane stories to tell, because I will be first in line to read them. Highly recommended.