John of All Trades – Review – Double Down by Gwenda Bond

Double DownTitle: Double Down

Author: Gwenda Bond (Fallout, Girl on a Wire, The Woken Gods)

Publisher: Switch Press (an imprint of Capstone Publishing)

Release Date: May 1st, 2016

Hardcover Cover Price: $16.95 (384 Pages)

Note: Miranda (my daughter) and I also recorded an interview with Gwenda Bond which you can listen to here.

So let’s get some things out of the way right up front before I get to how much I enjoyed this book.

  • I’m not the target audience for this book. I’m a 46-year-old man and while this book is listed as being for 9th to 12th graders, I think the audience could even skew a bit younger than that. I’m gladly sharing it with my 7th grade daughter.
  • I’ve been a fan of the Superman comics for over four decades so I feel like I’m more than a little knowledgeable about Lois Lane.
  • I have not read Bond’s first Lois Lane novel (Fallout), but my daughter has. This means that I did not have a knowledge of the events that led into this book.

Lois Lane is easily one of the most important character in the history of comic books. Her first appearance is the same as that of Superman’s – Action Comics #1 from June of 1938 meaning that she has been around longer than Batman, Wonder Woman, or even Superman’s ability to fly. She has always been an intrepid reporter, frequently getting into more trouble than she could handle, giving Superman an excuse to rush in and save her. Early she would needle Clark and pine after Superman as the writers figured the goal of any adult woman was to catch a husband. Over time Lois became a force of her own. She became Metropolis’ top reporter with or without the Big Red S. This move cleared the way for Clark and Lois to truly fall in love as equals and marry in 1996. While retcons have changed them back to single and not in a relationship, it is the married version of Lois and Clark that I truly loved. I always felt that together they were even stronger than the sum of their rather formidable parts.

Gwenda Bond introduces us to 16-year-old Lois Lane as she continues to adjust to life as a student at her new Metropolis high school. As the daughter of a high ranking military official Lois has moved around a lot and as such she hasn’t really made a lot of friends. In fact, she repeated reflects that she doesn’t really know how the whole friend thing works although she is desperate to learn. As this book starts she (1) is working in a junior capacity for Perry White, (2) her permanent file at school is legendary and as a result she has to regularly meet with the principal, (3) she has a knack for getting into trouble but for all the right reasons, (4) she wants to help her friends and break a huge story and hopefully she can do both.

Lois is everything that you would want her to be. She is fiercely independent, a loyal friend and a loving sister and daughter. While school is not her primary focus, school is about learning who you want to be and how to achieve it. Lois knows what she wants to do and so despite being in high school, very little of the book is focused on her actual high school classes except for an occasional test. The focus of school is the social connections with her widening group of friends and, as it turns out, their seemingly unconnected problems. As the novel goes on, you realize that their problems are absolutely linked and they are far from the issues of normal teenagers. It is Lois’ leadership that is the linchpin keeping this cadre together as they navigate the mysteries they must solve if they are all to be safe.

I was telling someone about the book today and they asked if Superman was in it. I was pretty coy about the answer. I tried to convince her (of something that I firmly believe) that Lois is a fascinating character in and of herself. While Superman does not appear in the pages of this book, Lois does have an online friend (or maybe more) that goes by the handle of SmallvilleGuy. They meet in an extremely sophisticated virtual reality network. Lois has access to the necessary hi-tech equipment thanks to his military connections. I’m not sure how a farm kid has that kind of access. Maybe with Kryptonian technology? I’m not sure but the two characters offer each other virtual support and watch out for each other as best they can. Lois doesn’t know much about young man behind the handle but time will tell how their relationship develops. Some readers have wished that the book hadn’t had Clark at all and I certainly can see that but it didn’t bother me at all particularly as I love L and C together.

Can you read this book without having read the first novel? Well, as soon as I saw that this book was the 2nd in a series I went to my library website and reserved Fallout. I’m a guy that usually likes to start at the beginning but I decided to see if this novel was easy enough to follow for someone jumping in and it certainly was. Bond does a great job of setting up the story and introducing elements that occurred previously without telling you the full plot of the first book. As soon as Fallout arrived from the library though my daughter grabbed it and devoured it. She loved it and I’m excited to read it myself even though I have some idea of how things went. If I had to do it again, I’d probably read them in order more to get the full affect of the first book but I don’t think it hurt the reading of the second.

Gwenda Bond certainly seems the perfect author to have written this book. She clearly loves the character of Lois Lane and even credits that love for her earning her degree in journalism. There are Easter eggs from DC comics sprinkled throughout the book but they aren’t critical to your understanding of what is going on so don’t worry if you don’t know about Cadmus or even Perry White. Everything you need to know is laid out. The pacing of the book is perfect for an adventure novel. As I read it on my iPad, I kept my finger hovering over the screen ready to swipe as soon as possible. I will give this novel the highest recommendation that I can give to a Young Adult work: I gladly shared it with my daughter.

I also recommend that you listen to this interview with the author that I did with Miranda here.


Categories: John

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