Series: Ex-Heroes, #1
Author: Peter Clines
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Rating: 4 Sugar Cubes
Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound
Summary: Stealth. Gorgon. Regenerator. Cerberus. Zzzap. The Mighty Dragon. They were heroes, using their superhuman abilities to make Los Angeles a better place.
Then the plague of living death spread around the globe. Now, a year later, the heroes struggle to overcome their differences and recover from their own scars as they protect the thousands of survivors huddled in their film-studio-turned-fortress, the Mount.
But the hungry ex-humans are not the only threat the survivors face. Across the city, another group has grown and gained power.
(Summary from Goodreads)
Review: As much as I love zombies, I have been a little over them as of late. I had heard good things about this book though so I figured, why not? I am always up for superheroes. While zombies play a major role in the plot of this book (there wouldn’t be any stakes if the zombies couldn’t kill you at any time), it is more about the characters which is what ended up winning me over.
These are not your average, glorified heroes, so don’t expect that. This is more akin to The Watchmen, flawed heroes with just as many problems as the next person and just as many weaknesses (mostly). As apparent by the cover, this book focuses on one hero in particular, The Might Dragon a.k.a. St. George. Each book of the series centers on one particular character and gives more backstory for them than everyone else. That being said, since this book is the first in the series you get a taste of each of the main heroes histories.
The layout of this book was interesting. Chapters jump between “Then” (1st person) and “Now” (3rd person), following the events of life in The Mount – the now-fortified block that was Paramount Studios – and the events leading up to and after the viral outbreak that turned most of the population into “exes” (ex-humans). The change in POV helped to make the jumps more distinct and keep the story moving along without getting muddled up in the timeline. I really enjoyed the “Then” chapters for the different voices of each character. Clines did a great job of letting the their individual personalities shine through so you knew who was narrating.
The world building in Ex-Heroes was well done. The story is set in Los Angeles, so there is much talk of landmarks in the area, but Clines manages to paint a pretty clear picture of how the world has changed in the year since the outbreak occurred — and the consequences of living in this new world.
While out on patrol for supplies, several heroes and guards come across deliberately placed road blocks and run into trouble with exes. Clines approaches scenes like this with a lot of action and just as many characters to deal with in a decisive, clear-cut manor that allows you to focus on what is happening instead of how many people are involved. For this particular type of story I think this was a good choice instead of getting bogged down with the details of what each person was doing when. It made these scenes easy to follow while clipping along at a nice pace.
Another highlight of this book is that, besides wanting to know more about the characters, the book does not end in a cliffhanger and could technically be read as a stand-alone, though I would not suggest it. The plot starts and wraps up neatly while managing to open up the story into the rest of the series.
If you have any interest in flawed superheroes, zombies, or action, check out this book. I enjoyed it enough to pick up the next one in the series — it is about Cerberus and she was my favorite, how could I not?