Friday 11 March 2016

ReadItDaddy's YA Book of the Week - Week Ending 11th March 2016 - "Lois Lane: Fallout" by Gwenda Bond (Curious Fox / Capstone)

US Cover
 We're squeezing even more Book of the Week love onto the blog than ever before. No reason why older readers should miss out on book of the week fun, so we're introducing an occasional chapter book or YA Book of the Week alongside our Picture Book recommendations. You lucky people!

So let's kick off this new idea with a book that has been an utterly rivetting and fast paced read from start to finish, featuring a character I previously had absolutely no love for! "Lois Lane: Fallout"
I didn't exactly get a great reaction when I (rather stupidly) announced that I didn't really like Lois Lane. I should point out that I never really liked Superman either, but my encounters with Lois - limited to "Golden Age" DC comics and her various truly dreadful movie & TV portrayals (all of which have been toe-curlingly terrible IMHO, sorry Margot even yours) didn't seem to demonstrate the qualities others had described.

UK Cover
I was very swiftly taken to task for this opinion on Twitter (hush your mouth, stupid man!) and Gwenda Bond's zippy, lippy and super-smart version of Lois feels more like the character I had always expected but never saw.

"Lois Lane: Fallout" is the first in a new series of YA novels by Gwenda, and she's brought Lois bang up to date - but also given her a direct tap into the intended audience for this novel by making Lois a smart, vibrant and inquisitive teen. Not just that, the novel itself tackles some pretty intense subjects head on, bang up to date and contemporary - and possibly best of all, letting Lois do her thing without "The Man of Steel" casting a huge meaty shadow over the proceedings.

Starting at a new school is tough, particularly when you're relocating from Kansas to Metropolis. Even for a smart cookie like Lois, there's apprehension, anticipation and excitement in equal measure.

Lois soon finds out that all is not as it seems at the school, and notices a particularly nasty episode of bullying taking place almost as soon as she puts a foot in the door. Worse, the staff seem to be party to it - there's definitely a case here for a budding reporter.

Lois's backchat soon impresses the socks off Perry White and she lands a job as a youth reporter on The Daily Planet, the perfect opportunity to investigate the nefarious "WarHeads" and why they're using online virtual reality games to bully other students.

Lois has a secret weapon of her own. An online pen pal known only as "Smallville Guy" who has a particular interest in truth and justice. But it's Lois's show, and she's determined to get to the bottom of the conspiracy - and hopefully stay alive in the process!

Though so obviously not the target audience for this, I found myself hooked. Gwenda's nippy and tight writing fleshes out Lois into the character I've heard others talk about. I've seen online reviews comparing her portrayal in "Fallout" with Veronica Mars and Nancy Drew but she's more contemporary, tougher but with the same habit of finding herself in hot water and relying on her intelligence and wit to get her out of it. I very much liked the fact that "Smallville Guy" is purely there in a supporting role.

It's most definitely not about the Man of Steel, it's about the woman of tenacity and verve!

Modern subjects are tackled with depth and knowledge. We'll always champion any book that deals with bullying in a thoughtful and sensitive way, and this book lets Lois dig right into the whys and wherefores gutsily, with a serious nod to cyber-bullying and other aspects of peer pressure for teens.

So I've gone from a naysayer to a believer, and I've also been catching up with a better set of Lois source material and some cracking anecdotes from original fans and contributors to Lois' backstory via…

Some fans may feel Gwenda has taken liberties with Lois in "Fallout" but bringing a character first conceived in the late 1930s bang up to date in such an original and energetic way has paid off. It's obviously won a lot of fans Stateside so it's time for Europeans to jump on board too. It's a page-turning belter of a novel that I've been recommending ever since I got a chapter or two in. Now I've polished it off, I cannot wait for more. This is the sort of comic-related stuff I want Charlotte to read when she's older. Books and comics where the characters people love prove their worth as literary characters, not just two-dimensional walking cliches.

Thankfully, Gwenda has penned a second Lois novel: Lois Lane: Double Down which will be available in the US in April and other territories later in the year.

"Lois Lane: Fallout" 
Written by Gwenda Bond
Contributions by Bob Lentz
Published by Curious Fox / Capstone / DC Comics
Publication Date (UK Hardcover): 10th March 2016