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.
Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines tells a tale of super-heroes vs. zombies switching between the past (Then) and present (Now) — also switching between first-person and third-person POV’s. We see the lives and the origins of the heroes, and the rise of the zombie apocalypse. Exploring the life of living within Paramount Studios (the Mount), confined with death banging at the doors each day and night, Ex-Heroes was a story with a lot of potential to be something great.
As a bit of a geek myself, the idea of a novel with a battle between zombies and superheroes seemed like it could have been a lot of fun. However, the story failed to live up to my expectations and getting through it was a struggle. Clines’ writing style seemed to lack lustre, and there was very little incentive to go from one page to the next, besides for having agreed to write this review.
It could be that my love for zombies and superheroes are restricted only to comics and movies, however the characters seemed flat and had very little that made them stand out, or having anything which showed character development — unless comparing the characters between then and now. Though, in terms of continuity of now, character growth and development is next to non-existent, and there heroes seeming to be entirely over-powered.
Some of the characters such as Cerberus (a superhero reminiscent of Ironman, with a full outfit and cannons) did have some growth, and were at least interesting to read, or to spot out their parallel — St. George (aka: The Mighty Dragon) was akin to Superman,
In terms of plot development, the story was at least laid out in a way which made sense, though the execution could have been better, with the flashbacks detracting from the story at times. The first few ones were especially jarring to read.
I do see how this could be a fun read, there’s a lot of action, magic, and interesting concepts — I have seen mostly positive reviews for it, most people do seem to disagree with my opinion. However, this story just wasn’t for me, and I’m not sure I would go so far as to recommend it to anyone, even lovers of dystopia novels. I couldn’t make myself like it at all.
Ex-Heroes can be read as a standalone, though it is also the first in Clines’ Ex Trilogy. Originally released through Permuted Press in 2010, Ex-Heroes is being re-released through Crown Publishing Group on February 26th, 2013.
I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.