Michael Moccio ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Editor-in-Chief
Everyone knows Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. What not everyone knows, however, are all the amazing characters without powers that step up to the plate and fight the forces of evil on their own terms. One such character is the unrivaled Lois Lane. In all of her incarnations, she’s fearless, bold, uncompromising, and one of the best journalists you’ll ever meet. Gwenda Bond perfectly captures this new version of Lois as Lois navigates her new high school East Metropolis High. Faced with fitting in, helping a classmate bullied by a group of students known as the Warheads, and uncovering a sinister corporate experience with her online friend “SmallvilleGuy,” Lois has a lot on her plate in Lois Lane: Fallout.
The most successful aspect of this book is no doubt Lois herself. As a high school student, Lois manages to get recruited to the Scoop, a high school section of The Daily Planet. Bond seamlessly weaves in that aspect of the DC Universe—and others—while still telling a complete and self-contained narrative. Lois is a fully realized, three-dimensional character who’s allowed to succeed, be romantic, and have flaws. The message Bond sends throughout the text is one of empowerment, and that’s invaluable where a Young Adult novel is concerned.
Lois Lane: Fallout is told through Lois’ eyes in a first person narrative and Bond takes advantage of the opportunities that gives. Writing in first person helps us get behind the characters and understand their motivations better—all sentences literally carry the weight of the character’s opinions—and, in this case, Lois shines all the brighter for it. Even when she messes up or digs herself deeper into trouble, we’re right beside her, rooting for her to succeed and keep doing what she’s doing, even if we may know that’s not the best option in the back of our minds.
This entire story is predicated on a group of students bullying a girl Lois befriends. Throughout the story, Bond includes elements such as near-VR gaming technology and Massively Multiplayer Online Games. Unfortunately, all the technology in the book just doesn’t feel complete. Neither the game, nor the encrypted chat Lois uses to chat with “SmallvilleGuy,” nor the advanced scientific laboratories feel complete. Bond leaves much to the reader’s imagination and the description she uses never fully fleshes out the picture of what’s going on. Not even getting into the mechanics of this virtual game, there presents a lot of technical questions that go unanswered that avid gaming readers—such as this reviewer—might get hooked up on.
To be quite honest, the science fiction elements of the narrative often detracted from the powerful anti-bullying message Lois Lane: Fallout intends to send. Whenever Lois stood up to help another student, it was inspiring; whenever Lois attempted to help that student by entering a virtual reality game or stopping an unethical corporate science experience on the students, it felt confusing. Part of that was because we can only ever know what Lois knows and when she encounters technology she can’t understand because it’s beyond her level as a high school student—and ours for that matter—she brushes it off and keeps going. While this might make an endearing heroine out of her, it leaves us frustrated for not knowing completely what’s going on.
That’s not to say that this isn’t an engaging story. Lois Lane in and of herself is an interesting and engaging character and will be a major reason why comic book fans and comic book fans with children will want to buy this book. Lois Lane: Fallout continues to push DC Comics’ mythos in the right direction by showing all the facets of the universe and what these characters can accomplish. In this instance, Bond creates a compelling story that’ll hopefully inspire young readers into falling in love with the incredible character Lois Lane.