Lois Lane: Triple Threat: An excellent continuation of this series

Lois Lane: Triple Threat by Gwenda Bond YA fantasy book reviewsLois Lane: Triple Threat by Gwenda Bond YA fantasy book reviewsLois Lane: Triple Threat by Gwenda Bond

Gwenda Bond’s inimitable LOIS LANE series continues with Lois Lane: Triple Threat (2017), as old threats rear their myriad ugly heads and new experiences bring opportunities for stress, “sports ball,” and flowers. (Don’t worry, it’ll all make sense soon enough.) Each book in this series builds on the previous installments, so even though there’s enough exposition to keep previous events fresh in the reader’s mind, I heavily recommend reading them in chronological order.

Six months have passed since the events of Double Down, and Lois Lane is itching for a story; life in Metropolis has been boringly uneventful, and what good is a reporter who has nothing to report upon? What’s she supposed to do if mad scientists aren’t trying to bring the city down around its citizens’ ears? It’s not like she’s going to memorize bus schedules so she can get to school on time. Luckily, the universe has a sense of humor, and dumps not one but two mega-stressors into Lois’ lap: a group of four teenagers has been stalking Lois and using strange abilities to attack people, and it’s up to her and the other members of the Daily Scoop to figure out who this group is and what their goals are while minimizing public panic or damage. And SmallvilleGuy (whose real name she still doesn’t know) and his parents are making a cross-country trip up to Metropolis so that he and Lois can finally meet in person. When it rains, it pours…

Lois is her usual brash self in Triple Threat, doing her best to maintain a near-flawless façade of fearlessness and determination whether she’s interviewing a crime boss or introducing her father to a boy she likes. Bond provides plenty of smaller, but no less important, moments in between the big confrontations where Lois gets to cheer on her family members or when she tries to be a loyal friend to Maddy, despite her lack of experience in that arena. When she makes mistakes, she owns up to them, and does her best to fix the situation. Maddy, herself, is becoming an excellent character in her own right, sparking Lois’ interest in American female spies and potentially sparking some deeper interest in readers who don’t know what Julia Child did before she wrote cookbooks, or how clever Josephine Baker really was.

As in previous books, Lois relies on her friends’ areas of expertise and interest to get to the bottom of the four mysterious teens and their remarkable powers. Unlike Fallout and Double Down, however, which read as self-contained novels within a larger interconnected universe, Triple Threat is the first book to feel like part of an ongoing series. Each of the strange teenagers is wearing a piece of silvery armor on a certain part of their body, and each has a specific ability which seems to be granted by the armor: super strength, heat vision, super speed, and flight. The initial groundwork is set up well, and pieces begin to move into place, but the resolution is weaker than I was expecting and points toward further details to come in subsequent books. The balance of the novel as a whole is a little off-kilter, since much of Lois’ attention in the first half is devoted to the stress of meeting her online companion for the first time; in the second half, Clark’s presence in Metropolis complicates Lois’ attempts to find out more about the teenagers and why they’re interested in her. The entire novel is enjoyable, but it loses just a touch of focus in the second third, and doesn’t quite stick the landing as well as it could have.

As far as The First Date goes, well… The best SUPERMAN writers have understood that the romantic angle isn’t just about Lois falling in love with Superman, it’s finding out why Superman would fall in love with her. Superman, as a character, represents qualities that an alien would find appealing about humanity: honesty, compassion, the desire to see justice fairly served, the ability to know when to be strong and when to be gentle. Multi-faceted examples of Lois Lane express all of those, and in Bond’s hands, she’s also respectful, headstrong, and has her fair share of flustered self-doubt. The real-world interactions between Lois and Clark are as sweetly awkward as I could have hoped, and Lois’ inner monologue is outright hilarious at times.

The beauty of working with an established setting is that Bond can rely on familiar DC Comics locations like Stryker’s Island Penitentiary, where Boss Moxie Mannheim is currently cooling his heels, while incorporating her own plot-specific places like a youth homeless shelter and the Metropolis Monarchs baseball stadium as she needs to. It contributes to the idea that this is a large city, one with enough distinct neighborhoods and buildings to prevent any locale from getting too familiar or repetitive. Lois has only been in town for a short while, and it’s easy for the reader to imagine that there are still huge chunks of the city that she hasn’t explored yet, and therefore endless opportunities for journalistic adventure (and further novels).

Triple Threat is an excellent continuation of the LOIS LANE series, and opens the door for Lois Lane to have a richer and even more complicated life in Metropolis than previously imagined. I’m thoroughly enjoying Gwenda Bond’s handling of beloved characters along with her own original creations, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing where she goes from here.

Published May 1, 2017. She’s cracked down on a mind-melding gang of bullies and saved the ex-mayor of Metropolis from the double who framed him. But now, Lois Lane embarks on a case even she isn’t sure she can solve . . .

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JANA NYMAN, with us since January 2015, is a freelance copy-editor who has lived all over the United States, but now makes her home in Colorado with her dog and a Wookiee. Jana was exposed to science fiction and fantasy at an early age, watching Star Wars and Star Trek movie marathons with her family and reading works by Robert Heinlein and Ray Bradbury WAY before she was old enough to understand them; thus began a lifelong fascination with what it means to be human. Jana enjoys reading all kinds of books, but her particular favorites are fairy- and folktales (old and new), fantasy involving dragons or other mythological beasties, contemporary science fiction, and superhero fiction. Some of her favorite authors are James Tiptree, Jr., Madeleine L'Engle, Ann Leckie, N.K. Jemisin, and Seanan McGuire.

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