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September 30, 2013 / minusbar

Book Review: Ex-Heroes, by Peter Clines

Book Review: “Ex-Heroes” by Peter Clines

I wasn’t expecting much when I picked it up at the bookstore. Seriously? Superheroes and the zombie apocalypse? No way that would be anything but ridiculous. It was, too. However, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would and have both positive and negative things to say about Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines.

Stealth. Gorgon. Regenerator. Cerberus. Zzzap. The Mighty Dragon. They were heroes, using their superhuman abilities to make Los Angeles a better place.

Then the plague of living death spread around the globe. Billions died, civilization fell, and the city of angels was left a desolate zombie wasteland.  

Now, a year later, the Mighty Dragon and his companions protect a last few thousand survivors in their film-studio-turned-fortress, the Mount. Scarred and traumatized by the horrors they’ve endured, the heroes fight the armies of ravenous ex-humans at their citadel’s gates, lead teams out to scavenge for supplies—and struggle to be the symbols of strength and hope the survivors so desperately need.

But the hungry ex-humans aren’t the only threats the heroes face. Former allies, their powers and psyches hideously twisted, lurk in the city’s ruins. And just a few miles away, another group is slowly amassing power . . . led by an enemy with the most terrifying ability of all.

 

I really enjoyed reading about each of the main characters, all superheroes, in one-chapter flashbacks throughout the book. It provided a good backstory without having to tediously explain it while the real action was going on. The characters themselves were interesting and believable, except for Stealth, the ninja lady. I could have thrown her out the window head first and been even happier with the book. Supposedly the leader of our little band of survivors, I found her character to be awkward and unnecessary. Forced, even. The rest, especially St. George (charismatic hero with dragon-esque powers) and Gorgon (hero with energy sucking powers), were great and I would happily read another book about them. The first person viewpoint also helped me get into their heads.

The setting was…amusing, I guess. Personally, I’ve never been to San Francisco, so I had no idea if the author was portraying the places accurately. It read nicely enough, however, and really didn’t affect the story much. I can’t quite decide if the fact that the survivors’ home base was Paramount Studios (The Mount, for short) was fitting or  bit ridiculous. Maybe it was a bit of both.

Now for the plot. Whoo boy. It started out great. We have a bunch of people, superheroes included, hiding from the zombies (or exes) in a movie studio. Throw in some gang rivalry from the survivors outside the wall, and there we have it: action waiting to happen. The problem was it didn’t. Sure, we have some super cool zombie encounters and lots of shooting. We even have hints and clues towards a greater threat. I was almost 200 pages in (of 336) when the actual threat was revealed. I was also a little disappointed with what Clines decided to do with said threat. It could have been so much more gripping and emotional if he had gone one way rather than what he did. Confused? Me too. Still, if you plan on reading the book I don’t want to spoil it. Suffice it to say that a very obvious decision was made towards the end of the book to go with the run-of-the-mill villain instead of the alternative.

Overall the book was actually enjoyable, more so than I thought it would be. Hats off to Clines for giving this idea a chance. Another little note to add: there were several geeky references scattered throughout the book. I had fun trying to spot them all.

If you want to check it out for yourself, look here!

Thanks,

A Daily Dose of R&R

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