Bane of Kings shares his thoughts on Peter Clines’ zombie/superhero novel, Ex-Heroes, which is just as fun as the premise makes you think it is.
“Superheroes and zombies in one novel? Peter Clines presents a very strong and entertaining novel that will keep you flicking through the pages.” ~The Founding Fields
I love any zombie fiction, and when you combine them with superheroes, I’m instantly sold on the idea. So much so that I didn’t even read the blurb before delving into EX-Heroes, as I already knew that this would be a combination of the two before downloading it from NetGalley. As it turned out, EX-Heroes was certainly an entertaining, action-packed read, and I can recommend it a lot to fans of either the masked crime-fighters or the Walking Dead.
Stealth. Gorgon. Regenerator. Cerberus. Zzzap. The Mighty Dragon. They were heroes. Vigilantes. Crusaders for justice, using their superhuman abilites to make Los Angeles a better place. Then the plague of living death spread around the globe. Despite the best efforts of the superheroes, the police, and the military, the hungry corpses rose up and overwhelmed the country. The population was decimated, heroes fell, and the city of angels was left a desolate zombie wasteland like so many others. Now, a year later, the Mighty Dragon and his companions must overcome their differences and recover from their own scars to protect the thousands of survivors sheltered in their film studio-turned-fortress, the Mount. The heroes lead teams out to scavenge supplies, keep the peace within the walls of their home, and try to be the symbols the survivors so desperately need. For while the ex-humans walk the streets night and day, they are not the only threat left in the world, and the people of the Mount are not the only survivors left in Los Angeles. Across the city, another group has grown and gained power. And they are not heroes.
As EX-Heroes is targeted mainly at geeks like myself, there’s a lot of references thrown to various pop culture elements in the novel, most of which I managed to spot. Whilst some people might enjoy the odd mention of other things, there comes a point when the line is crossed and it feels like too much references are being crammed into one novel and there is a chance that the reader will certainly not get all of them. (Just a quick question, for those who have read the novel – did you mind the amount of references to pop culture in here? I didn’t, but I can see that there might be a few who do).
The novel however, is a really quick read. Clines has managed to keep every single page a fast one and will have the reader, much like I did – going “Just one more chapter”, before it gets put down. As a result, there’s a lot of action in this novel, mainly between the superheroes and the zombies. It’s interesting to see somebody other than your average Joe battling the zombies, and for all of you who wondered if superheroes would be any good in a zombie apocalypse then EX-Heroes might just be the book for you. In fact, any fan of superheroes, zombies, or even sci fi will enjoy EX-Heroes, as whilst it may not be the most literary book out there on the market today, it’s certainly an entertaining one if you’re looking for a quick and fun read.
The author has used flashbacks to separate the novel between before and after the zombie apocalypse, allowing the readers to get a look into what roles the superheroes played before the end of the world. It also allows us to become more attached to the individual heroes, and whilst they aren’t the most memorable superheroes in fiction and nor do I think they will pose a threat to the A-Listers of Batman, Superman and the like any time soon, the cast of Stealth, Gorgon, The Mighty Dragon and the rest are all a fun cast of characters that you’ll be able to put up with over the course of the book. Peter Clines manages to utilize the superhero tropes in the same way that Joss Whedon utilized the character stereotypes found in his TV series Firefly, and make us not really care about the fact that they may be done before so many times over, for Clines has really managed to make us forget that they’re cliches.
Overall, EX-Heroes is a fun, entertaining read that will be very enjoyable for someone who isn’t looking for something too serious. As this was the first novel that I read in 2013, I have to say that it kicked the Year off to a promising start.