Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines, Ex-Heroes #1

The Mighty Dragon. Stealth. Gorgon. Regenerator. Cerberus. Zzzap.

They were superheroes fighting to make Los Angeles a better place.

Then the plague of living death spread. Billions died, civilization fell, and the City of Angels was left a desolate zombie wasteland

But the ex-humans aren't the only threats the heroes face. Another group is amassing power... led by an enemy with the most terrifying ability of all.  

Ok. Where to start. Who doesn't like superheroes? I am just a sucker for them and that was the reason I have been eager to read Ex-Heroes, I am always on the lookout for superhero books or something similar. It's just who doesn't want to have superpowers right. Ex-Heroes is a non-stop display full of action, humor and not to forget superpowers and yes: zombies. If you are looking for a quick action packed and thoroughly entertaining book to read, Ex-Heroes should be right on top of your list.

The beginning of Ex-Heroes readily puts you right in the state of mind for the story. Superheroes. The first introduction is that of The Mighty Dragon/St. George, the I think more main protagonist of the story. He able to fly, breath fire, has amazing strength, cannot be pinned down by a bullet . St. George is a bit a do good typical hero. Always helping out and saving the day in his tights. However not every superhero in Ex-Heroes has this type of personality. I can probably make countless of references towards superhero or mutant fiction and compare, but I won't. In creating his superheroes for Ex-Heroes, Peter Clines has come up with some unique concepts of his own that make up for some interesting heroes. There are quite a few in the story but some like Zzzap, Gorgon and Cerberus and from the bad guys Midknight. Zzap is just awesome being able to shift his body into a living mass of energy, think a solar flare sorta. But it doesn't there Zzzap is also able to tune into radio frequencies and commune directly to walkie talkies. Ow wait and yeah fly at speed of sound. Now Gorgon, who is able to suck live out of people by looking into them, I actually thought he was a bit of a letdown being a hero, his power only influences, the living and since the majority of the inhabitants of Los Angeles are ex-living well... however in the end of the book there is nice turn of events that really makes Gorgon’s character stand out, together with Zzzap, this is just the type of stuff I wanted to read about. Lastly there is Cerberus, and this is one hero that is quite different, more of a self made, self proclaimed cyborg hero, the operator invented the Cerberus system and kitted it out with a lot of guns... of course there are quite a few more heroes in Ex-Heroes and most of them all have their own introduction. It was good to see the  diversity in superpowers and how the individual superheroes acted.

The part of having their own introduction really helps to make the story more interesting and to establish each individual superhero into the storyline. I think everyone is always curious as to how a superhero got into his or her powers and what they can do. In Ex-Heroes you are introduced to the characters and later their individual stories are being highlighted in different chapters. Mentioning how they got it and what kind of impact it had on their lives. These chapters are themed "then" and the current storyline takes place in the "now" chapters. Like I said this alternating between the past and current events really produced a much more interesting and engaging storyline, especially given the background of several superheroes.

As for the zombie part. Ex-Heroes actually takes place not that long after the initial events of the outbreak, only a year or two. The zombies are referred to as ex-humans (ex-living), having lived and not living anymore. The government stated that zombies were pure fiction and wouldn't except that term. Peter Clines shows the ex-humans in a slow and dumb manner, getting stuck in closets and in showers behind the curtains, giving them on one hand quite a humorous take but when in some scenes several characters do get cornered by them it isn't quite all that funny anymore and Peter Clines manages to hit the right snares in his writing to produce that eerie and tense dark feeling of being surrounded with no possible escape. Furthermore it was good to see that we, as a reader, didn't have to take the introduction of the ex-humans on the fly. As the story progresses in Ex-Heroes you learn more and more about the events that earlier transpired with the virus, the efficacy of it, how it operates and that probably everyone does carry it. The ex-virus doesn't has the same mode of operation as many other often used pathogens in zombie fiction. Eventually reading about the origins of the ex-virus was a complete curveball, I wasn’t expecting that to happen!

The storyline of Ex-Heroes is starts off with only a small problem for our superhero, you see how they live their daily "normal" lives, scavenging remaining food stores while the city of Los Angeles is riddled with exes around each corner. The exes aren't their own problems as there is still the threat of the Seventeen, a gang that is holed up in Los Angeles as well and they don't have a keen eye on the superheroes. By this friction the story of Ex-Heroes takes a turn for a much darker side as our team of superheroes now have to take on a force even they will have their hands full of. In setting up the plot of the first book I really liked how Peter Clines took the zombie aspect even further, further than just showing the ex-human, the virus can do a lot more and the higher forces make it even more interesting... take a close look at the title!. With what Peter Clines has done for the ending of the book you are in for a surprise.

Ex-Heroes is a highly enjoyable read that tackles the superhero and zombie themes and mashes them up in one action packed, blockbustery story. Peter Clines has created his own set off cool superheroes that each have their own pro's and yes they have flaws as well, they aren't all the all omnipotent, all powerful but even they can succumb of mortal wounds. It's for them also a game to watch out for the ex-humans and this taken together with the mass of them does create a great tension when our heroes our cornered in various scenes. The characters in this book aren't explored in the deepest but they all do have their own history and part in the storyline which makes them individually stand out. The focus of Ex-Heroes is on the whole of the story, with the bad guys being beaten by the superheroes taken together with the threat of the ex-humans. And on this whole, Ex-Heroes succeeds. If you are looking for a fast paced, action packed book when no superhero movies are on TV, get this book, otherwise still get this book it's enjoyable, you will get your laughs but also that dark gritty and claustrophobic sense when the exes come knocking!

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