Monday, September 27, 2010

Review: Ex-Heroes

Peter Clines, 2010, Permuted Press

Folks had really only just come to terms with the existence of genuine superheroes when the dead began to rise. Now, Los Angeles is a wasteland. Thousands of survivors shelter in a converted film studio, under the protection of the remaining superpowered individuals, while millions of hungry ex-humans roam the streets. Now, however, there's something worse out there than the zombies. Across the city, another group of survivors has grown and gained power. And they are not heroes...

If ever there was a novel that I'd give just about anything to see turned into a movie, Ex-Heroes would be it. The plot - which, far from rehashing Marvel Zombies territory, offers a fresh and engrossing take on the superhero/zombie mash-up - storms along at white-knuckle speed, boasting a superb blend of action, intrigue and survival horror, while somehow finding breathing-room for some major character insights and development. The superheroes (and humans) of the tale are all wonderfully flawed, in ways that generally serve to drive the plot rather than simply complement it, and the reader is constantly reminded that human nature doesn't always vanish with the onset of superpowers, for better or worse. Add to the mix Clines' ability to create stunning visuals in the mind's eye of the reader through masterful use of prose and dialogue, and the resulting package is one of the very best zombie novels I've yet to read.

Ex-Heroes is a must-read for genre fans who demand so much more than just another zompocalypse. Hell, I'd read Clines' laundry list if that happened to be the only other thing he ever wrote, but I'll hold out hope for another novel, and soon.

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