Posted: 12/28/2011 in Books

Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines

Ex-Heroes is one of my very favorite zombie novels (perhaps second only to The Last Mailman by Kevin Burke: also available now through Permuted Press!). So naturally I was very excited to read the sequel, Ex-Patriots. But before I could properly do that, I thought I would sit down and get re-acquainted with all the fine characters from the original. So here, after a second reading, is my review of Peter Clines’ fantastic super hero, zombie mash-up: Ex-Heroes.

THE GOOD: I love super heroes. I love zombies. So why did I feel so disappointed after reading Marvel Zombies? I’ll tell you why: the zombies talk, the super heroes fight and eat each other. It’s not good zombie, it’s not good super hero. It’s all messed up. I was left feeling like a great opportunity was missed.

Peter Clines took a similar idea, but did it the exactly correct way. He took the best things about zombie stories and the best stuff that super heroes have to offer and married them in a beautiful ceremony. The heroes are (for the most part) heroic. They do what super heroes do, only now in the face of the zombie apocalypse.

Clines is an expert story-teller. Every main character gets a nice flashback chapter, helping to explain their motivations both pre and post apocalypse. The pacing of the book is great, with no lulls or dull spots. Both times I reached the end of the book, I was itching for more (as well as wanting some Ex-Heroes action figures!)

THE BAD: As well as all of the main characters (read: super heroes) are developed. The same can’t be said for the ordinary human characters. There are a number of ordinaries who are directly involved in major points of the book, yet they’re all pretty interchangeable. The only one with any distinction is a woman named Lady Bee, and she’s really only distinguishable because of her funny name. The character descriptions for the other 6 or 7 ordinaries with names would all read pretty identically. It’s a minor gripe, and one that does not take away from the overall enjoyment of the book.

In my initial review posted on Amazon, I also mentioned that I would have liked an explanation for the main villain’s power set. Luckily, Clines addresses this in the sequel. So if you read through and have a similar question, make sure you pick up Ex-Patriots.

THE UGLIES: All of the zombies in the Ex-Heroes world are referred to as exes (as in, ex-humans) For the most part, they’re classic shufflin’ zombies. You don’t have to get fancy with zombies as long as you have great story and great characters to kill off. Clines provides both. The one zombie twist here is the main villain, who has a zombie related super power.

THE VERDICT: Ex-Heroes is an absolute win all around. If you like zombies, you should read it. If you like super heroes, you should read it. If you like both, it’s an absolute no-brainer. In fact, I don’t know why you’re reading this right now instead of purchasing a copy.

BONUS: I actually won a (signed!) copy of Ex-Patriots by entering a Peter Clines-run contest asking for interpretations of the Ex-Heroes characters. Here is my award-winning work of art: Eggs-Heroes!

Clockwise from top left: Zzzap, St. George, Stealth, Gorgon, Regenerator, MidKnight, Lady Bee, Jarvis, two exes, Cerebrus


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