EX-Patriots is the highly anticipated sequel to Peter Clines first zombie book, EX-Heroes. Clines has created a world decimated by the Zombie Apocalypse where humans turned zombies are called “Exes” and the comic styled superhuman’s fully loaded with special powers who failed to save the world are called “EX Heroes.” What is interesting is that this is a true novel and not a graphic novel featuring humans with super powers. In fact the only picture you will see is what is on the cover.
Liking comics and superheroes isn’t a prerequisite to enjoying these books. This is key for me, as comics have never help much interest for me outside of Wolverine or The Punisher, but even those were passing interests.
If you’re wondering why the superheroes doesn’t just launch into the air and fly through a few billion zombies solving the world’s problems, you should know that these aren’t immortal heroes. Clines has even created fascinating concept where if a superhero takes too much of an ass kicking and dies, he/she will turn into a zombie while still holding onto whatever superpower they had while alive.
Aside from a few EX Heroes turned undead, the rest of the zombies are your shambling ever-moaning type who attack en masse. Clines takes the traditional zombie style even further by touching the voodoo element, which is a part of the original undead lore I was ignorant of until I read these books. Hopefully this topic is further explored in future works.
The base of operations in the series is a safe zone called “The Mount” set inside LA and part of a movie production studio. Within this safe zone the EX Heroes have corralled as many survivors as they can to give humanity a chance at continuing on.
From guards on the wall who keep score killing EX celebrities, to growing their own crops, The Mount is an attempt at a self-sufficient community. Unfortunately supplies and ammo have run low, so groups must continue to forage outside LA and stretching their search areas further afield. On one such mission a military drone is spotted, which is the first sign of an active military operation since Earth fell to the Exes two years ago.
Once initial communication has been made, the military sends a group of Blackhawk helicopters out to The Mount where we learn that, before the apocalypse, the US military had created their own group of super muscle-bound humans. This setting creates an action packed story where the lines are blurred on who the true enemy is, and stays unpredictable the entire book. With the US military seemingly back in place at a previously unknown location, it leaves the EX Heroes questioning their own actions as the fate of The Mount is being decided and the mantle of responsibility is taking its toll The Mounts leadership.
The story shifts in and out in of timeline titled “Then” and “Now”, where it backtracks various story lines and characters, giving context to the current situation in the “Now” chapters. There was a few times where I felt like the “Then” back stories hurt the flow of the story more than it added depth or cliffhangers to keep you anticipating what’s next. It’s not that going back to “Then” didn’t add anything, because it did; I just found that it backtracked too much, especially in the first half. At times the “Then” chapters would have done better as a short paragraph rather than a few pages, as the new information wasn’t worthy of so much time spent away from the progression.
Other than a few momentum disrupting back stories, and being mindful of spoilers, I can’t go into detail on my other issues here. Suffice it to say, I felt like the Heroes were a bit too powerful in EX Patriots compared to the first book, EX Heroes. Hopefully these two fairly minor issues will be toned down a bit in the upcoming third installment EX Communication, which will arrive in 2012.
EX Patriots is a worthy sequel to the wildly popular EX Heroes. It gives us some much needed creative variety to the apocalypse genre, which can easily become repetitive without authors like Peter Clines pushing themselves to take a well-known genre and do something wildly different with it.