Meet Lois Lane, sharp, sassy, would-be investigative journalist and so principled that she regularly finds herself running up against authority, school and parents included. Yes, it is that Lois Lane, but this smart mystery novel imagines the Superman co-star as a teenager. She’s newly arrived in Metropolis – her dad’s job as an army general means the family move around a lot – and determined this time that she’ll keep her head down, fit in and not make waves. Fat chance. Waiting to meet the principal on her first morning at school, she witnesses some particularly creepy bullying that almost seems to be sanctioned by the head. No way can Ms Lane turn a blind eye to that. As a new reporter for the Daily Scoop, a teen subsidiary of the Daily Planet, she persuades her fellow teen journalists to back an exposé. It leads her into a thrilling, and very cleverly described case of corruption and exploitation: a sinister tech development company is conscripting teenagers in a research project on gaming dynamics and then playing around with their brains to turn them into human weapons. Can Lois get to the truth while keeping her dad on side and – even more important – her new friends?
It makes for a terrifically exciting story, and Bond’s Lois is clever, brave and with a great line in dark humour. Readers are left in no doubt too as to the strength of her moral convictions, or the cost. “I don’t know if happy is what I want,” she remarks to her father at one point, “I may want more.” It’s a lonely life, righting wrongs.
And where is Superman in all this? Well, he’s there and with a big part to play. The two meet online, she’s ScepticGirl1 and he’s SmallvilleGuy! Their relationship is cleverly played out via instant messaging – honest and awkward, and with so much that can’t be said.
Hugely enjoyable, this is slick, intelligent writing that will have readers eager for more.