I first read Ex-Heroes almost a year ago when it was first released. I really liked it, but just never found the time to do a write up, so when I heard that Clines was working on a sequel, I figured it would be a good time to give it another go.
Ex-Heroes is ostensibly a zombie apocalypse novel, but it’s got something that sets it apart, or really many somethings. Things with names like The Mighty Dragon, Stealth, Gorgon, Cerberus, Regeneraor and Zzzap, or to put it another way, superheroes.
Clines didn’t invent zombies vs superheroes (was Marvel Zombies the first?), but this may be the first time in novel form, and regardless, what he did invent was a pretty darn good book and a very interesting universe.
Ex-Heroes begins about a year after a mysterious virus spreads across the country, killing nearly everyone infected, and causing them to rise again as “exes”. Several hundred survivors are holed up in a walled compound they call the “Mount”, protected by the aforementioned Heroes who use their powers to keep the hordes of the undead outside the walls. But when they’re threatened by a force even more dangerous than the exes, even the Heroes’ abilities might not be enough to save everyone.
The book alternates chapters between the current day and a series of flashbacks that show us not only the early days of the ex outbreak, but also the origin stories of the Heroes. Those stories reveal a lot of detail and motivation for what’s happening now, and really contribute to the overall arc.
It’s got enough action and gore to satisfy any zombie enthusiast, and more hero on hero battles than you’d find in several comic books, but what I enjoyed most about it was the depth of the characters, particularly the Heroes, and their humour. It’s chock full of quips and one-liners and conversations along the lines of arguing which is the best celebrity kill “Alex Trebek, or that hot asian chick from Battlestar Galactica”.
I would love to see someone make movie out of Ex-Heroes, or even a graphic novel. But until that happens, one thing we can look forward to is the upcoming sequel, Ex-Patriots. I traded some emails with the publisher, Permuted Press, and found out that it’s going to be released first as an Audible.com audio book this summer, and then later in the fall in print and ebook.
They promised we’ll see not only more zombies, but also new Heroes. What we don’t know yet is if those Heroes will be fighting for the good guys, or against them. I guess we’ll just have to wait to read the book to see, and you can bet I’ll be one of the first ones in line to get it.