Monday, 20 February 2012

Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines

Summary -Stealth. Gorgon. Regenerator. Cerberus. Zzzap. The Mighty Dragon. They were heroes. Vigilantes. Crusaders for justice, using their superhuman abilities 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. -GoodReads

Review -I read this book more than a month ago, and originally someone else was going to write the review, so I haven't thought about the book since finishing it, and unfortunately until sitting down to write this review, I had mostly forgotten it. I guess that says something about how engaging the book was for me. This review will be pretty basic, as I've forgotten most of the details.

The beginning of the book is spent watching our heroes wandering though the wasteland that used to be Los Angeles, salvaging supplies and killing zombies. This is cool, at first, but it drags on for pages and pages of description of blowing up body parts and occasional celebrity zombies. Once we do get to the plot the book is half over and we find out much of the information we got in the beginning was irrelevant to the point of the story anyway. This was my biggest complaint, so much of the book (and my time) was wasted on vivid descriptions of zombie destruction, which sounds great, but in actuality, it got old really fast.

The book alternated between telling the back story of the individual heroes and what's happening in present day. I'm usually not a huge fan of flashbacks, but in this book the flashbacks were some of the most interesting parts of the story. It's the only time the characters seem at all real. Unfortunately, the author included too many characters and provided very little back story for each one. We are left interested, but ultimately unsatisfied in our curiosity about them. The book could have been greatly improved by giving us twice as much history on half as many characters.

These things being said, I get that character development and emotion were not what the author was going for when writing this book. The book reads like a script to an action movie, which is most of what the book was, action of some sort or another. Sometimes all action with very little substance can be appealing, but it's tough to do this well. As an author, if you're going to make your book all action, you should bring some originality, this book isn't original, it isn't particularly well written either. This left me skimming pages with only a mild interest on how the story ended. The most disappointing part is that it COULD have been so much better. The idea and the set up are great, it just fell flat quickly after getting started.

Bottom Line: Ex-Heroes is basically zombies vs. superheroes, without bringing anything new to the table. There's a lot of action, a lot of description of zombie destruction, but not a lot of character development, which is okay if unoriginal action is all you're looking for. Grade: C-.