I re-read this for review purposes because, let's face it, my memory sucks and there's no way I can remember enough details to review it years later. It's also just a good book and worth that re-read.
What Works -
Clark - I have a soft spot for stories that focus on the Clark Kent persona over the Superman one. Of course without the alien part we'd never look twice, but I dig the confused double-identity awkwardness.
Clark shows up for the book after taking a girl out on an unsuccessful date, discovering some of his powers during a botched rescue that ends with a guy dead. Ricochet isn't something to mess around with. He likes to write stories that are all rejected - pulpy sci-fi stuff - and instead of crying over his father's death, he's despaired at his mother's demise from cancer.
We don't get the fortress of solitude yet, but we do get a small-town farmboy who is unsure of the world and himself. The book takes a long time to get him out of Smallville - there's his father, a great man who refuses to attend church because of hypocrisy of the local Methodist congregation and who turns some of the town against him because of taking in a black man as an assistant. Their bond is close but realistic. He does some small time reporting in that town and finally meets up with an escapee from Metropolis, Willie.
Clark/Lex enemies - When he finally gets into the Superman role, he's great as a bumbling hero. His meeting with Lex is priceless as Lex is quick to point out the lack of brains apparent. The meeting isn't a hatred for the villain, but rather an excitement Lex was craving. I loved the showdown and their relationship in this book, although sadly they're scenes aren't until the end. Lex even is responsible for a certain costume...
Lex - Lex is perfect in this book for this alternate reality type. I loved his character. He's a mob boss who acts as the cities alderman (not sure what that is, neither are some of the characters...) while blackmailing scientists to help him make robots and busily coming up with other schemes. There's of course the serious darkness and villainry from him, but there's also that quirky humor that makes the book work. He's obviously the brightest man in book and he knows it. He's sleek, powerful, suave, sarcastic, his character was one of the best things the book offered, if not the top thing.
The ending - I fangirl how the ending ties together the story - not so far fetched that it's an alternate universe, but a different telling on the detailed start, something other books haven't done to my satisfaction before. There's so many made up details but most of them are interesting and it plays like a noirish 30's story. But in the end it wraps it up by then saying, let's allow the general fandom and canon to take over now..."And here, at last, is the point where our version of the story merges with all the others, the point at which Lois Lane (with one shoe on and one shoe off) peers up at Clark Kent (whose glasses are once again back on his face) with a dawning but already deep suspicion that feels strangely gleeful, almost like affection."
Not shying away from realism - The story has accidental deaths on the part of Clark, swearing from other characters, funny bumbling - bravo.
Lois - Lois works pretty well, even if I got bored sometimes with her POV. She's written with strong backbone and backstory, showing her go from one man to another, putting aside conscience for story.
What Doesn't Work -
Povs for people we don't care about - There's several side stories thrown in that grew stale and drug the book down. The plot was detailed (win), imaginative (bigger win), but it veered off too often into made-up character's heads for the invented story. An example is Willie; he works for meeting Clark and getting stuff rolling but he was another I grew bored with eventually. If the writer had reduced some of his viewpoint a bit, it would have helped
Clark/Willie journey - Sure, the journey helps show them explore the world before deciding what to do eventually, but it drags on much too long and, while having some fascinating adventures, holds boring ones as well.
Overall it's a great book for fans, it's different and fresh, and the major characters shine as stars. On the negative side sometimes the book just gets dull in between the worthy stuff. Because of some dullish sections I couldn't give this book a five star, but I loved it enough for it too stay a favorite.