Fallout: Lois Lane Book Review

I’m not gonna lie, I’ve always kind of love the nineties-tastic show The New Adventures of Lois and Clark starring Dean Cain and Terri Hatcher.

dean cain terri hatcher lois and clark

It was one of those shows that I started watching as a kid, and even though I easily recognize the cheese factor of that show, it will always have a dorky place in my heart.

 

Because of my love of Superman–and it totally doesn’t matter if that love began with Dean Cain and not Christopher Reeve–I was super excited when I got the chance to check out Gwenda Bond’s new book, Lois Lane: Fallout. Bond’s book is a bit of a new spin on a classic character, which I couldn’t wait to dive into. Check out the book’s rad cover:
loise-lane-fallout-finalHere’s a quick breakdown of the book:

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…

I’ll be honest. I didn’t know what to expect from this book. A YA re-imagining of Lois Lane–a character who has literally been around for decades? Would it feel like a cheap knock-off? Would it cheapen a character that I actually love? Would it just be a stupid, useless addition to the Superman canon?

Short answer: not in the least.

It’s true, this story is rather different from other stories involving Lois, but it definitely feels like the Lois we all love, especially compared to recent developments in the Lois story arc in the comics world.

Bond gracefully and masterfully creates a teenage Lois Lane that is believable and shows the Lois Lane that we all love–the one who is way more than a chick who is frequently saved and occasionally dates/marries Superman. Bond’s Lois is smart, she isn’t afraid to make waves, she’s brave, and she looks out for other people–this book captures all of that with a fun and exciting mystery that she has to unravel.

We have so many origin stories or tales of a young Superman/Clark Kent out there, but there isn’t nearly as much out there on Lois’ backstory. Sure, Lois doesn’t have superpowers, so I get why the focus is often Clark-centric. However, Lois isn’t just a shrinking violet, damsel-in-distress either. Part of the reason Lois jives so well with Clark–I think, anyway–is because she’s able to keep up with him. She’s just as smart (if not smarter) than Clark, she’s highly intuitive, she’s quick on her feet, she cares about bringing bad guys to justice, and she isn’t afraid of a dangerous situation. Bond’s book describes a teenager who would clearly grow into just that woman. It’s a nice blend of Superman and a Veronica Mars-type story, and I just love that.

Teenage Lois has a bit of a record from her previous schools, but she’s got a reason for every bit of “trouble” she’s caused. Here’s an example:

“Did you really create a noxious cloud that caused the evacuation of your school in Ohio?”

“Of course not.” I waved my hand dismissively.

“Good,” she said….

…”It was a few harmless chemicals mixed into an equally harmless cloud. Not noxious so much as big,” I said, “It was a distraction to help this girl, Sophie, who really needed an A. Her partner messed up their lab on purpose, because she broke up with him.”

I love Bond’s Lois so much. Sure, it’s a bit different, but I think that’s good. I love the new spin on classic, beloved characters, and I love that this book focuses on Lois rather than Clark. Of course, the shadow of her online friend “Smallvilleguy” (gee, wonder who that could be!) is a fun wink to the Superman fandom that Lois’ adventures are only just beginning.

TL;DR: This book is awesome. It’s fresh, it’s exciting, it’s funny, and it’s nearly impossible to put down. It also released today, so go buy your copy now! 

After reading a book like this, I knew I had to interview the author. Was it intimidating to write this book? Where did the inspiration come from? WHEN CAN I GET BOOK TWO!?!? Happily, she was kind enough to take time out to chat with me. Here’s my convo with super-author Gwenda Bond:

Gwenda Bond

Kendall: There are tons of ways to fall in love with the Superman universe. Did you come to it through comics, TV (there’s no shame in liking Lois & Clark with Dean Cain. ­­I know I did!), or the movies?

Gwenda: I absolutely agree! No one should ever feel ashamed about liking what they like or feel they need to apologize for it. My own first encounter with Lois Lane was as a kid watching the Superman movie, with Christopher Reeve as Superman and Margot Kidder as Lois Lane. I was immediately drawn to this character not quite like any I’d seen before, and I tracked her progress in various media after that on and off—from stealing my brother’s comic books to buying my own. But I think we all have those fictional characters who become more a part of us than we even recognize at first, perhaps. Lois is definitely one of those for me.

K: What inspired you to write about a teenage Lois Lane?

G: I was lucky enough to be asked if I was interested in writing about a teen Lois Lane as a reporter and my response was of the “ARE YOU KIDDING? SO IN” variety. More seriously, though, it was inspiring—never has a project unlocked its secrets to me so quickly.

K: How did the writing process for Lois Lane: Fallout differ from your previous novel, Girl on a Wire?

G: The only major differences were really that I had to do a fairly detailed outline up front—I’m an outliner, but usually I’m the only one who sees it at the start and with Girl on a Wire, I mostly felt my way through—and that the sense of please­don’t­screw­this­up always present when I’m writing a novel was stronger. I didn’t want to disappoint long-time fans of the character who have been waiting for a showcase like this. But, other than that, the process was very similar to my normal one.

K: Was it intimidating to write a novel from the perspective of a character that has not only existed for decades, but is fairly well-­loved among Superman fans? If so, how did you deal with that?

G: It was! But, honestly, I feel like my love for the characters and the pull of the story was strong enough that it overpowered the worst. I guess you could say that my superpower was to put that out of my head while I was writing. Though I would joke to my husband that “I don’t want to be the one who screwed up Lois Lane.” So, yes, I was nervous when people starting reading early copies of the book, and so so so relieved when several people who care deeply about the character gave it the thumbs ­up. I wanted this book to feel like a gift to those readers.

K: Did you spend a lot of time researching Lois from TV, film, and comics, or did you shy away from spending too much time in Lois stories to keep yours fresh?

G: A mix of both. In the first month I was working on the project I went back and re­-watched some Touchstone movies, live ­action and animated, and revisited some of the comics, and read some writing about her. But then I sensed that it was time to just start writing and let my version of Lois come to life on the page.

K: What do you hope Superman fans will take away from Fallout?

G: I hope they’ll feel like it has the things they love about the Superman world but presented in a fresh way, through Lois’s eyes, and also that they enjoy the new elements and characters too.

K: Do you think die ­hard Superman comic book fans will like your book, or do you not care since this is arguably tapping into an entirely new market from a traditional comic reader?

G: Truly, I tried to make it the best of both worlds. So far, from Superman fans, I hear delight in picking up on some of the touchstones seeded in and that the characters feel right to them. But from people who aren’t necessarily Superman fans, they don’t seem to feel like there are things they’re missing out on (a lot of them are Veronica Mars fans, and so coming to the story from more the gutsy girl sleuth angle—which I also deeply appreciate). I wanted it to have a welcome mat for all readers interested.

K: If Fallout was a movie, who would you love to see cast as Lois?

G: What fun that would be. And here is where you find out that even though I watch entirely too much TV, I hardly ever know actor and actress names! So, either someone I have no idea their real name or someone completely unknown. Lois should be a career­-making part.

K: Were you anything like Lois when you were a teen?

G: Ha! It’s funny you ask, because this book probably actually has more nods to my own adolescence than anything I’ve written. My parents were principals (my dad my elementary school, my mom my high school—they are both lovely), and I always joke that’s where my authority issues come from. Let’s just say that Lois’s penchant for elaborately getting in trouble is not entirely unlike my own teen years.

K: Who is your favorite Lois, Amy Adams, Erica Durance, Margot Kidder, Noel Neill, Kate Bosworth, or Terri Hatcher?

G: That is a list of wonderful ladies. I’d have to say Margot Kidder, for reasons cited above. But I will also throw in a vote for the voice work of Dana Delany.

K: Who is your favorite Superman, Christopher Reeve, Brandom Routh, Henry Cavill, Dean Cain, or Tom Welling?

G: Again, I’m taking the easy way out! Lovely list of men (truly: lovely), but Christopher Reeve remains my favorite. The physicality of the way he played Clark Kent vs. Superman is just masterful; I’ve compared him in the role to Cary Grant (who of course started out in vaudeville and could be quite the acrobat, and brought that great physical timing to his roles). I’m a bit of an old Hollywood nerd too.

K: Can we expect more Lois Lane novels? If so, do you have anything cooking that you can tell us?

G: Well, it is announced as a series. I’m not sure I’m allowed to say anything else right now, but I will say: buy Fallout! Because there are many more stories I’d love to tell starring Lois Lane. Ultimately, it’s the success of the book that proves there’s a market for those stories.

K: Where can we find you online?

G: Far too frequently on twitter as @gwenda, or goofing off on tumblr as gwendabond.tumblr.com, and on my own site at www.gwendabond.com.

K: Anything else you want to mention that I didn’t ask?

G: Thanks for your interest and the interview, and I shouldn’t miss an opportunity to say again what a pleasure it’s been getting to talk to people and hear about what Lois Lane means to them. So, anyone who ever sees me at an event, please come up and tell me, if you’re so inclined. I still can’t believe that talking about Lois Lane now falls under the heading of “job.”

Be sure to follow Gwenda online, and pick up a copy of Lois Lane: Fallout from your favorite bookstore, or from these online retailers! Let me know what you think of Fallout–have you read it? are you going to read it?–in the comments! 

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