Zombie Book Review: EX-Heroes

Shortly after a few individuals discover that they have inexplicably acquired super powers, the shit hits the fan and the zombies take over the world. The last human survivors of the Los Angeles area find refuge in a former movie studio – “the Mount” – that has been turned into a fortified compound defended by these newly designated heroes. This is, in a nutshell, the starting point of EX-Heroes. A story packed with action, nasty undead monsters, bad guys, and super heroes. Why the “EX” you might ask? Well, in this story the zombies are called “exes” as in “ex-humans”. Despite their supernatural abilities, our heroes are not immune to the virus. This element will of course bring an interesting twist to the plot.

Zombies enthusiasts and super heroes fans alike are spoiled by Peter Clines because he’s doing a great mash-up here, but one that confused me a bit at times. The fact that it was intended for the English reader probably did not help either. I am well aware that I sometimes read too fast and miss some details, usually it does not prevent me from getting the big picture but here I was a bit lost sometimes. In the end I found myself rewarded to have given it a chance; the final scene only made it all worth it, a sort of “Helm’s deep battle” à la Zombie sauce that was truly epic.

EX-Heroes is the first book of a trilogy (book three is in the works) and I believe this novel also happens to be the first ever written by Peter Clines, the quality of the story clearly outweighs the technical flaws that I found. I’ll definitely read the sequels, and I’m sure that if you give this one a try you’ll want it too.

Clines does a great job at writing about both aspects of the story. The zombie apocalypse is hard, scary and dangerous, just like we like it. I’m not an expert in superhero stories, but I found Pete’s character to be original in view of “the classics”. They are strong but not invulnerable, and most importantly they remain human in their actions, meaning they are fallible and they make mistakes.

Most principal characters come with an elaborated back story and this is, in my opinion, the best part of the book and what makes me want to avidly read the sequel. Unfortunately, and despite the great character development, I do have a couple of grudges against EX-Heroes that almost made it an ex-book on my night stand but I’ll get there in a bit.

I found myself rapidly caring for these heroes and I wanted them to succeed and kick some undead ass. Of course, there’s more to it than just that because let’s be honest, facing the undead hordes with super powers is only fun for so long. Fortunately enough, Pete also threw some super-powered bad guys into the mix to even the odds. So, after giving this story the big thumbs up why am I also disappointed by it?

Well, it’s from a purely technical point of view that I had a bit of a hard time with EX-Heroes. Peter Clines drops the reader in the middle of the story without any preamble and keeps confusing us with flashbacks and interconnected plots. This made it very arduous for me to get into the story during the first half of the book. I don’t like to be given all the keys of a story but I think the author has been pushing the principle a bit too far here. The fact that I’m not a native.

Grade: 4 zombie heads out of 5

Second Look review by Evan (aka ZombieMutts)

I was a bit confused when I started reading this as well. Although for different reasons than Yatkuu, as I don’t have the non-native speaker excuse.  I went into this book as I do for most books: cold.  I try to know as little about a story as possible before I read it.  I had no clue this book was about superheroes in the post apocalypse so I was pretty thrown off at first. Perhaps a preamble – as Yatkuu suggests – would have fixed that? I am not sure. Part of the confusion stemmed from the fact that I honestly wasn’t too sure what a movie studio compound looked like. I had the basic idea of course but didn’t get the full picture until later on.

However, once I got into rhythm of the story, I was thoroughly enjoying it.  Obviously, since I did the MOC you see below this review.  As you can tell by the creation, the story is pretty wild and fun. The best of stories are the ones that let your imagination free in the ungated amusement park.

Check out Peter Clines blog on writing and his publisher Permuted Press.


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