Book Review: Ex-Heroes (Ex-Heroes #1) by Peter Clines
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.
I’m not big on the zombie craze. I didn’t watch The Walking Dead, I didn’t play The Last of Us, but I did play Zombicide (but only because my brother loves that game). Anyway. Me + Zombies = Meh.
I picked up this book because, while I’m largely ambivalent to the walking dead, I do love superheroes. And when I saw this book in the bookstore, I was drawn to it like a moth to a flame. I mean, look at the cover! And don’t lie when you tell me you aren’t intrigued!
This novel, largely, is a superhero story. Sure, there are zombies, and the post-apocalypse scene does play a major role in their characterization and actions but, at its core, I felt like this was still a superhero narrative. We have one hero that feels largely useless and struggles with his place in society. Another one with the weight of their survival refuge, The Mount, riding on his shoulders. And another one terrified of the world they live in. Each of the superheroes in this story is struggling with a fundamental problem that could just as well take place in a pre-apocalypse world.
The characters sold me this story. Yeah, it was fun to watch them bash in zombie brains, but it was the people that really drove this story forward (and home, to be honest). I could resonate with their fears, their struggles, their dreams, and I think that’s the core essence of a great superhero narrative: humanity. How the hero reconciles being placed on this pedestal, and the responsibilities it entails, while navigating what it means to be human.
Ex-Heroes was witty, charming, and action-packed. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and I’m giving it a well-earned 5 out of 5 stars because of it. I definitely recommend picking up a copy!