So you see, there’s this zombie uprising across the United States. Yep, not original. But then you throw in the fact that super heroes are trying to stop them (and mostly failing) and suddenly you have a whole new ballgame in Peter Clines‘ Ex-Heroes. Published by Permuted Press, Ex-Heroes takes place in the now, when the zombies have risen up mysteriously throughout the states and have begun to decimate the world population.
The story shifts around between flashbacks from various heroes with snazzy nicknames like Gorgon, Stealth, Zzzap and Resurrector and the now, while they’re struggling to protect an entrenched fortress in Los Angeles called “The Mount” (Paramont Studios).
I’ll be honest with you: I wasn’t expecting the depth of Clines’ characters when I started the book. I was thinking “Zombies and superheroes… only Marvel can screw this up and thankfully, this guy isn’t Marvel”. I figured lots of guns, decapitations and explosions would be the recipe of the day. I wasn’t disappointed, but was also rewarded with Clines’ quick wit, realistic portrayal of a group of regular Joe’s struggling to survive side by side with super heroes in a post-apocalyptic society and dark humor interspersed with real life situations.
The story starts out with the focus on the Mighty Dragon, a suddenly powerful man who can breathe fire, fly, and is invulnerable to bullets. He is reminiscing about how he became a super hero just before he is to lead a team out into the wilds of Los Angeles, scavenging for food and ammo, the narrative switching back and forth from third person “Now” telling and the first person reminiscing scenes. It’s rather seamless, and I was actually surprised when, 2/3 of the way through the book, I suddenly realized that the author had switched POV’s without me even noticing. THAT is the sign of a good story and a better writer.
But one thing in the story makes it all a terrifying “this is not the zombie apocalypse I was hoping for: the ex-heroes, the heroes who were bitten and now called “ex people” like the other zombies. Their powers still mostly active and, well, powerful, they wander around Los Angeles in a mindless state. They are dangerous but uncontrolled… or so we think.
The heroes and normals inside The Mount must battle the exes (zombies, remember?) and the normals of a street gang who are led by a man known only as Peasey. This culminates in a shocking revelation about one of their most trusted heroes, as well as the fate of the world.
This book is good. Very, very good. I enjoyed it thoroughly and was upset when I got to the end, because it was all over. I was also a bit surprised at how fast I read it, which is also a good sign. The more engrossed in a story I become, the faster my reading speed becomes. It’s weird, but it’s always a good barometer of how much I’m enjoying a book.
This book is a definite buy. It’s entertaining, fun and a very well-paced story. I’ll be reading Ex-Heroes again.
–Reviewed by Jason