New Review: Double Down (2016)

Gwenda Bond

Switch Press (2016)

ISBN: 9781630790387

Lois Lane #2

Teen Lois Lane is settling into school, her baby-journalist job, and a new, somewhat unexpected friendship group, all of which is a bit new for her. But Lois wouldn’t be Lois if she didn’t have a nose for disorder, and between that and her loyalty to those she cares about, the scene is set for mystery, adventure and imminent danger. When her friend Maddy’s twin sister starts experiencing odd turns, Lois is drawn into investigating the source of the problem. Uncovering some weird science and a link to their other friend James’s father’s past disgrace, the situation quickly escalates. On top of everything else, Lois’s online confidant, who she knows only as SmallvilleGuy, has concerns too – and what concerns him, naturally concerns her. It’s a recipe for trouble, and Lois is in the thick of it, where she likes it best.

My favourite part of this book is the sweet unfolding relationship between Lois and SmallvilleGuy (who, duh, is clearly Clark/Superman) – I like the way Lois approaches the friendship and her maturity in discussing it with him. It’s nice that they look out for and support each other, even if it’s isn’t in the real world, as such. I also enjoyed Lois’s friendship with her sister, which is far more believable than the one she has with her parents…

Believability is my biggest issue with this book, and indeed, the series so far. Possibly it’s because I’m not really the target audience. This is definitely a young adult novel – it’s written that way and it hits the beats for it. YA is usually my thing but these ones don’t have the usual appeal – I’m hoping it isn’t because I’m ageing out of the field, because YA is where most of the interesting stuff is! I think that more likely, it’s to do with the medium. What can work in a graphic form, in comics, doesn’t always translate into fiction. While these are written as original novels, the source material is comics. Teenage heroes (be they super or otherwise) are generally unlikely, in any shape. The way Lois interacts with the adult authority figures in her life is bordering on bizarre. She is sixteen but thinks nothing of the way she wrangles her parents, her boss (Perry White), her principal, and in this book, the mayor and plenty of others. It strains my credulity too far, and just doesn’t work. And I don’t think the worldbuilding of the book quite supports the extent of the suspension of disbelief we need – the “science” of this story, while feeling quite natural in the comics, doesn’t quite gel for me within the context of the otherwise fairly realistic setting of the story.

Having said that, the mechanics of the story are fine, although I think it perhaps takes a little long to get to the point. There’s lovely character development among Lois’s merry band of teen journos, and enough action to keep things going. While I didn’t love it, I’m on board to find out where Bond takes Lois and SmallvilleGuy in this iteration, and I’ll happily pick up the next book.

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