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FALLOUT (LOIS LANE #1) by Gwenda Bond…a 2017-18 LOVELACE nominee

Fallout is a smart, sassy modern-day adaptation of DC Comics’ iconic character Lois Lane.  In Fallout Lois is a teenager whose family has just moved to Metropolis.  Her father is a decorated army general and we learn very quickly that:  (1) due to her father’s military career they have moved A LOT; (2) consequently Lois has attended many different schools; (3) Lois has a history of getting into trouble in most of the schools she has attended; and (4) Lois’ heart is always in the right place because when she does get into trouble it’s usually as a result of her standing up for someone who cannot.

At the beginning of Fallout, due to Lois’ troubled school history her father has requested a permanent assignment which has landed the family in Metropolis.  Lois’ intentions going into her new high school are to stay out of trouble and find a way to make some friends.

Her very first day, however, she overhears a student trying to get the Principal to take a bullying complaint seriously and he brushes her off.  None of this sits well with Lois and before she knows it she has instinctively joined the conversation:

“Excuse me,” I said.  “I couldn’t help overhearing. I have to agree with–Anavi, right?–that an administrator should take a bullying complaint seriously and do what he can to stop it. I’m assuming the school does have a policy?” I waited for a response.

As might be expected, Lois’ interference does not go over well with Principal Butler:

“Might I suggest, Ms. Lane, that you watch and listen until you understand your new school?  Wait to pitch in with your…knowledge.  Do that, and I know you’ll be very happy here. Most of our students are.”

“Like the one right across from you,” I said, nodding to Anavi.

Luckily for Lois, also observing her ‘interference’ that morning is Percy White, an editor at The Daily Planet.  He immediately offers her a position as a reporter for the new online startup staffed by a small group of teens, which she gratefully accepts.

As Lois pursues both friendship with Anavi and a way to help her she stumbles into an increasingly sinister mystery involving the group of bullying gamers–the Warheads–seemingly targeting Anavi.  Unsure whether or not she can trust her fellow teen reporters at the online Daily Scoop–and simultaneously terrified they will think she’s crazy–Lois sets out to investigate and expose injustice by herself.

Lois also has an online friend known as SmallvilleGuy, who has told her he cannot share his true identity.  Of course the reader knows this is Superman, whom Lois will meet in DC Comics lore as an adult in the person of Clark Kent.  The relationship between Lois and SmallvilleGuy runs parallel to the main storyline but is secondary, as this series focuses on Lois.  In Fallout Lois and SmallvilleGuy are evenly matched in intelligence, strength, guts and wit.

The storyline of Fallout is similar to some of the dystopian/fantasy YA lit like The Eye of Minds by James Dashner and simultaneously stays faithful to the original Lois Lane/Superman dynamic in DC comic book lore.  Fallout is a great independent or read-aloud choice for upper elementary or middle grade readers–particularly for girls given its strong, smart, funny female lead…Lois Lane.

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