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138 of 148 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely fantastic genre-crossing novel
Ex-Heroes, the debut novel from Peter Clines, offers a new spin on the typical zombie story. Set in modern times, a zombie outbreak has ravaged the earth and only a handful of superheroes have kept the situation in Los Angeles from deteriorating into total chaos. Reeling from losses in their own community, a band of heroes has established a fortified safe zone in...
Published on March 11, 2010 by Justin G.

versus
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad
I just bought Ex-Heroes tonight and proceeded to read it all. I couldn't stop. My opinion of Ex-Heroes grew the longer I read it.

The biggest problem I had at the beginning was the notion that a Superman-lite-type character, an Ironman-type character, and a superhero who is comprised entirely of energy and can melt anything he touches would have such a...
Published 20 months ago by S. Olivares


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138 of 148 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely fantastic genre-crossing novel, March 11, 2010
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This review is from: Ex-Heroes (Paperback)
Ex-Heroes, the debut novel from Peter Clines, offers a new spin on the typical zombie story. Set in modern times, a zombie outbreak has ravaged the earth and only a handful of superheroes have kept the situation in Los Angeles from deteriorating into total chaos. Reeling from losses in their own community, a band of heroes has established a fortified safe zone in Hollywood to help whatever survivors they find. Unfortunately so has a much larger group of gang members, who have some deadly tricks up their sleeves.

Now, mixing superheroes and zombies isn't an entirely new concept, but unlike Marvel Zombies, Ex-Heroes takes the idea seriously and is a story you can actually believe. Ex-Heroes reads like a mix of Watchmen (or maybe Heroes) and Land of the Dead. It's more of a big screen movie type story than the typical tale of survival horror, but I mean that in the best possible way. Clines's story of very human, very flawed heroes trying to maintain order in a post-apocalyptic situation seems very realistic and would make a terrific movie. I love how the book is split between "then" and "now" chapters, with the "then" chapters told from the perspective of a different hero and chronicling the developing crisis.

Clines has come up with a fascinating cast of characters who, despite being superheroes, all seem like real people. I also loved the pace of the book, the believable dialogue, the black humor (a running contest to see who bagged the most famous zombie, for example), and the unexpected plot twists that never seemed forced or clichéd. I'm already anxious for a sequel.

Ex-Heroes is a fantastic superhero novel, a fantastic zombie novel, and just a great story altogether. You know those books where you're only a few pages in and you realize "oh yeah, this author knows what s/he's doing"? They're few and far between, but Ex-Heroes is definitely one of them. If you're a fan of superheroes or zombies (or better yet, both), Ex-Heroes is a must-read.
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41 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Genre Cross-Over that works extremely well, March 20, 2010
This review is from: Ex-Heroes (Paperback)
It's always potential fun when someone tries to tie two popular genres together, but often time the fun ends once you get to see the end result and realize that what you have is a mishmash of ideas that never really mixed well. Not so here, with Ex-Heros. Peter Clines has created a very plausible set of superheros facing the zombie apocalypse and doing what they do best: saving the world. Its certainly a struggle for them, as there is no way to stop the zombie menace, but they've focused on creating a safe haven in Los Angeles at Paramount studios, aka The Mount, which is the most easily defensible place where they could bring hundreds to thousands of survivors. Opposed to them are the Seventeens, an old LA Gang that essentially controls the rest of LA, with their mysterious leader.

The story is told by switching back and forth from the present to the past, with each flashback done in first person and told from the perspective of a particular superhero. The story is given the opportunity to slowly reveal itself this way and had a flavor of Watchmen to it that really worked in this setting. Our superheros aren't perfect-often they are sullen and none too happy with the people they are protecting, who don't necessarily trust them. In addition to this, some of the superheros have fallen to the Ex virus, which started the zombie apocalypse in this story, and while they are not quite as powerful as they once were, they still present a sizable threat to both the human and superhero population in the story.

Clines does an excellent job of creating unique and believable hero's for this tale, with The Great Dragon leading the pack. They may be studs physically, but there are plenty of warts that are revealed during the story, giving us some surprises along the way that impact the story dramatically.

I think this is one of the best genre cross-over stories I have read in some time and Clines, who indicated that many of the superheros created here came from his and friends childhood visions, clearly has a passion for both genres, and has created a very unique genesis to the zombie in this story that makes perfect sense and lands like a sledgehammer on the reader towards the end of the story.

There is no doubt that Clines could make this into a series, or just pull off a sequel, if he chooses. The characters are rich and involving and there is certainly much more to be revealed about all of them. Definitely recommended for the zombie and superhero fan alike.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best I've ever read..., November 7, 2011
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This review is from: Ex-Heroes (Paperback)
LIVING DEAD CORNER REVIEW

Ex-Heroes is one of the best zombie books that I've ever read. This story is a great example of how you can cross genres and do it right. There have been many other "mashups" that were just plain bland, throwing in factors from two different elements just to do so. Ex-Heroes is not the case.

Peter Clines weaved, in my opinion, a very plausible apocalyptic scenario here. Granted, suspension of disbelief is tested greatly when it comes to zombies, but it runs the gamut with a plot such as this; where you have superheroes thrown into the mix. That said, I never once found this book to be unbelievable. The heroes are flawed. The humans are flawed. The best part, to me, is that the zombies are plentiful, but not the main focus. They exist in the background, which allows character development to be at the forefront. And, on top of that, dark humor is thrown in there (who's killed which celebrity zombie), and it just adds to the vast pleasantries Ex-Heroes has to offer.

The plot is rather enjoyable. Humans are holding up in the Mount in the middle of the city, and the superheroes watch over them and do what they can to protect everyone, always thinking about the betterment of the majority instead of the minority. But this isn't the only group of survivors. A local gang is expanding, and they want what's within the Mount. This faction is led by a man who has a special power himself, and it is one for the books. I'll not give that away, however. You'll have to discover that treat on your own. One of the more enjoyable parts for me is the tension within the Mount. Not everyone enjoys having the superheroes around, and quite a few share their distaste.

Ex-Heroes reads more like Watchmen, with the jumping between past and present. This sets a good pace for the story. You get a few chapters of the present, then a first-person account from one of the heroes, and each tale told through the heroes' perspectives provides you with the origin of their powers/abilities, as well as keeping a timeline, of sorts, of the zombie apocalypse as it begins.

The heroes are all drawn out vividly. You know exactly what they look like. But what's more, each one is full of life -- and human. They make mistakes, they have feelings. They're not just perfect killing machines. My favorite character was Gorgon, a hero with vampire-like powers. I really enjoyed following his part of the story, which the plot seems to have the main focus on - though the story doesn't follow his perspective much. It is indeed a grand cast of characters, and each one will be hard to forget.

The zombies in this story are called "exes," and when I found out the origin of the Ex-virus, I was pleasantly surprised. I honestly didn't see that one coming until a page or two before the grand reveal. Peter Clines went with originality with this one, and he did a superb job of achieving it.
There is quite a bit of action as well, and each scene is depicted as if you were actually watching it as a movie. From the actions to the trash talking, it is fun ride.

I would honestly recommend this book to anyone, not just fans of superheroes or zombies. It is rich with great character interactions and development, which we don't always get to see in this genre. My only complaint is that I didn't write it. So, if you're in the mood for a page-turner, I'd buy this book.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent genre blending debut, November 7, 2011
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This review is from: Ex-Heroes (Paperback)
Mixing zombies with superheroes in a desolate Los Angeles. Peter Clines's world of Ex-Heroes is George Romero's Dawn of the Dead meets David Gemmell's Legend meets The X-Men. All chapters are either divided into "Then" or "Now" sections. Narration is in the first-person for all "Then" chapters and in third person for all the "Now" sections. The POV's both first person and third person are via Stealth, Gorgon, Cairax, Regenerator, Cerberus, Zzzap, The Mighty Dragon, Lady Bee, Banzai, St. George and a few minor characters. The author has quite cleverly divided the book into the past "then" and present "now" sections and thereby maintaining the tension in the story while going forward as well giving us the crucial back story. The "now" begins in the current where a sizeable portion of humanity is holed up in Paramount Studios which has now been renamed "The Mount". The humans within are surviving from the horror outside wherein zombies freely roam and look for fresh human meat, the zombies in this world are called "Exes" as in Ex-humans. The human population though has an upper hand with the super heroes who are protecting them.

Stealth, Gorgon, Regenerator, Cerberus, Zzzap, Lady Bee, St. George and a few others have shepherded humanity and are doing their best defeat the zombies while also searching for a cure. The "then" sections focus on each superhero separately and we are given a clear look into their beginnings, this leads to a very precise picture about each of them while differentiating their personas in the reader's minds. The story then begins as the heroes forage on almost a daily basis and try to retrieve as many tangible goods as they can with a few normal volunteers however they have been noticing that some one is competing with them and also leaving booby traps which creates further problems. The story then escalates as the people of the Mount find out who it is that has been hindering their survival and what do they want which leads to the question "what will they do to survive?"

I completely loved this book and while it was a debut book, it didn't feel so at all. With a very clever but not wholly original premise, the author unleashes a very exciting story which grabs the reader's attention and then proceeds to charm the reader in a variety of ways. Firstly the plot is a great one as the story begins with a scenario which should appeal to most zombie/apocalypse enthusiasts. From then on the author keeps the story moving forward with some great twists as well as the past recollections of each superhero. This tactic keeps the twin story strands; the past and the present constantly entwined while delivering the clues about the enemy and also illuminating the mistakes of the past. I was thrilled with the way the story was presented and how in the end the author managed to pull it off by coalescing all the threads and resolving all the questions arising in the readers minds.

The author has also aced the characterization department as we are given access to many characters and all of them have vastly different personalities and agendas. This was what differentiated the characters from being comic book clones. And even though most of heroes have their own issues a la the X-men, the author has conveniently provided the back stories which clue the reader in to these issues. Another tremendously exciting point was the humor which is present in all forms through out the story, from the black humor laced conversations to the celebrity zombie hunts; the author manages to make the darkness of the situation a little lighter. There also tons of references to various comic book characters, movies, SFF shows, books etc. making it an interesting read in addition to all the previous plus points.

Lastly this book's climax draws parallels with David Gemmell's classic debut Legend, in the sense, the reader gets a sense of claustrophobia as the holed up survivors try to defeat an enemy who has massive strength in numbers while also facing problems from within. Granted that David Gemmell's book was built on that single premise whereas over here the book's climax is a one long drawn out fight which will have the readers flipping pages to see who survives & who doesn't and what is the final outcome. For me I got that overall Legend-like vibe and kudos to the author for making the climax that much exciting.

I really loved this book for all of its good points which made it such a fun read, however the parts combined together make it an excellent book all together. I would have point that I really couldn't find any deficiencies or things to nitpick. One can point out that the author utilizes various tropes among the superheroes like the all invincible hero with the heart of gold, the secretive hero who stays alone even among the hero ken, etc. But with all the tropes being utilized Peter has still managed to put his own spin to these characters and the story thereby making it his own and one which can stand all amongst other wonderful debuts. After all almost all SFF novels utilize tropes in one form or the other and it is up to the writer to make them seem seamless within the confines of the plot. To his credit Peter Clines passes with flying colors in his debut by giving the readers a tale which they can cherish for a long time to come.

CONCLUSION: An excellent debut which spans many sub-genres and has a little bit of everything to satisfy most of its readers. Ex-Heroes is a standout debut in the superhero and zombie genre. Simply put I was completely floored by this book's ingenuity and charm; I definitely hope that Hollywood never ruins this one by making it into a movie. Heartily recommended for all fantasy, thriller, horror fans who would want to read a book which best exemplifies the real meaning of a page-turner. Peter Clines's debut easily makes him the most under-appreciated author of 2010 and now I can't wait to read what he has done next in Ex-Patriots.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly enjoyable and easy to read, April 13, 2012
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This review is from: Ex-Heroes (Kindle Edition)
Zombies and Superheroes. I failed to see the appeal and went into the book unsure of what to expect or whether I would like it, so I mentally shut off the part of me that would stop and ask questions. Surprise, surprise, that was unnecessary and it ended up being an easy and enjoyable read!

Aside from a not so easy to follow action scenes, Ex-Heroes kept me up by reading late into the night. It is fast paced with frequent speed bumps by way of flashback chapters. I think Clines could have worked it out differently so that nearly half the book wasn't a "then" chapter, but it eventually pays off as the past unfolds the few mysterious bits. I'll say it again, surprisingly enjoyable and easy to read.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Doubleshot Reviews book review, September 18, 2011
This review is from: Ex-Heroes (Paperback)
Set in modern times Ex-Heroes is an amazing cross genre read. Zombies and Super-Heroes...what's not to love, right? The setting created by author Peter Clines is fairly simple. It's located in an area of LA, so there are familiar landmarks all around. The Heroes have themselves a pretty good setup. They have managed to block off a good chunk of LA that keeps the Ex's out and thus keeps themselves and the surviving humans living with them safe.

I loved most of the characters Clines created for Ex-Heroes. Zzzap is a trip with all his pop culture references and the fact that he's essentially a small star when he's in his Hero form is pretty damn cool! Cerberus was probably my favorite character other than Stealth...there is just something about her that I love. Anyway, back to Cerberus. Cerberus didn't have any super powers...she was just an extremely intelligent woman who created this, essentially, robot suit that could be worn to kick major ass. While not a HUGE superhero person, I have always tended to lean toward the heroes who really don't have powers, but have the heart to do what is right. What I liked most about Clines' Heroes was that most of them seemed to be your everyday Joe who just happens to have some extra abilities and chooses to use those abilities for good. The Ex's are just what we would assume them to be. Mindless undead clacking their teeth, reacting more to sounds and smells rather than sight.

Like I mentioned earlier with Ex-Heroes you get Superheroes, Zombies and a great story all in one package. I really enjoyed myself with this one and think you will, too.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "At the squealing, shaking gate, someone else was screaming. But only for a moment.", July 31, 2010
This review is from: Ex-Heroes (Paperback)
"Ex-Heroes" is another great novel from Permuted Press. "Ex-Heroes" is a near future apocalyptic horror/action novel with a duel storyline in which a disease has swept through the world and people seem to be dying and coming back as flesh eating zombies, called "exes" here. I say "seem" because there will be a surprise here near the end of the book about this. Oh, they're flesh-eaters alright, but there is a surprise, but, I'll say no more about this.

So let's move on and mention the second part of this novel, and that's that at the same time the exes appear, so do people with superpowers. The superpowers range from invulnerability to the ability suck to the energy from people.

Unfortunately, even if they have superpowers, they are not always invulnerable to that which causes the dead to rise. Blockbuster, Midknight, Cairax, and Gorgon's lover Banzai are already dead , and the remaining superheroes Stealth, The Mighty Dragon (a. k. a.: St. George), Lady Bee, Regenerator, Cerberus, Gorgon, & Zzzap, all that seems to be left, have barricaded the Paramount Studios (a. k. a.: The Mount) and have located, have taken in, and are now protecting L.A.'s survivors there.

But they are not the only ones that are surviving in the city, there is also the street gang the South Seventeens (SS) who are also growing in numbers, and have destroyed or subverted all of L. A.'s other gangs, and have set their sights on wiping out The Mount, with a special emphasis on getting a hold of Gorgon.

Then another problem crops up. The exes seem to evolving themselves into something else, and yes, the superheroes will find that there can also be supervillains.

If you were a fan of Marvel's "Zombie" series of graphic novels, but found that, that series had a tendency towards cuteness and sloppiness, then this novel will be for you as it takes the idea much more seriously. We have some superheroes that are just plain invulnerable to the exes, and others that are smart enough to not get in the way of the ex's teeth. Unlike in the Marvel universe where EVERYBODY can be zombiefied, and there is no hope.

Clines also tells his story in groups of three chapters. The first chapter takes place in the past, and spotlights a superhero; their origin, their death, or their reason for joining the The Mount. The other two chapters take place in the present and tells the story of The Mount, and the upcoming war with the Seventeens. This is all very entertaining stuff, as I like superheroes, and putting them in an apocalyptic world where their powers just might not be enough to save them is a great idea.

What bothers me though is this novel's loose ends. There are several heroes here whose powers are never really explained, like Stealth, who may be supersmart, but who doesn't seem to have any real superpower. Then there is a large body of mundane humans who are introduced, but whose ultimate fate is never reveled, it's as if they were used as filler, and then just forgotten about at the novel's ending. Then we never find out who "Peasly" is, and this is a prime mystery that is constantly brought up throughout the novel. And lastly, we never find out why the zombified supervillain was able to keep his intelligence instead of becoming just another mindless thing.

There was one other thing that ticked me off. There is a chapter where the survivors talk about the celebrity exes that they've killed. This was tiresome; did we need to have a parade of stars talked about this way? It instantly dates the book, and is too damn cute. There is even a revelation that a certain hero is bitten while trying to rape the ambulatory corpse of Jessica Alba. This just makes Clines seem creepy as person. What's the matter Clines, she turn you down for a date? "Ex-Heroes" gets docked a point for this.

In the author's bio, Clines is portrayed as a Hollywood writer, when he is looked up on IMDb it turns out he was property master for an extensive list of movies and television series. I don't knock this, but the truth is important, though he does seem to have an extensive résumé as an article writer.

"Ex-Heroes" also has a great cover by Garret DeChellis, and like all of Permuted Press' books, this is a really sturdy book that will hold up under many, many readings, and would fit well on your local library's shelf.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I wasn't sure, November 29, 2011
This review is from: Ex-Heroes (Paperback)
I picked up my copy of this book at a discount from the now defunct Border's chain because I wasn't sure how I would like it. I had "heard" mixed reviews from various forums where I lurk or visit. One guy had offered it to me but we got separated by the InfernalNet and so I took the plunge. I am sorry I waited. I thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Clines' "mash-up" (I guess that's what the hip kids say) of the superhero and zombie genre's. The characters drew me into their little piece of safety in the ZPAW that was Los Angeles. I read it straight through and only lost a few hours of sleep to this tense and direct world built by the author.
I am quite the fan of the zombie genre and have a pretty solid collection of older, but mostly newer works and believe this one definitely enhances that milieu. You see the heroes with their warts hanging out, humanizing them is the term I believe, right alongside the desperate and worried folks they are protecting. The story has a dark twist with the inclusion of the gang bangers and crew. Others here have already been extremely eloquent and precise in their dissections of this novel. All I can say is that, though I wasn't sure before, I am now and decidedly glad I went on a ride with Mr. Clines and his Ex-Heroes. I ordered his Ex-Patriots immediately after but that is another review.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If this is a debut effort, the future is very bright, November 18, 2011
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This review is from: Ex-Heroes (Kindle Edition)
This is a fantastic read. I haven't always been a sucker for Zombie stories, but this one is great.

I loved the fact that the superheroes were (mostly) still trying to be the symbols that they were before the outbreak happened. I really enjoyed the back and forth nature of the timeline that allowed the reader to understand the heroes better and it was done so well that it didn't interrupt the story flow at all; it actually enhanced it.

The explanation of how the infection started was fantastic, and unlike some other zombie tales there was some thought as to how long they can continue to exist before they fall apart etc.

The only downside that I have for this book is that I wish there had been a non-superhero character that stood out; it would have been nice to know that there was one "normal" person who really stood out and was able to shine.

Excellent work overall, I'm off to pick up Ex-Patriots now.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gem of the genre, September 30, 2010
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I have been incredibly surprised and pleased by Ex-Heroes. There has never been a great deal to expect from zombie fiction until the last few years. While I have respected the attempts made by Permuted Press, many of their offerings have been lacking in content and originality. This novel, in my opinion, is the jewel of their collective publishes. I would say that I enjoyed this book as much as World War Z which is, arguably, the best of the genre to ever make paper. I am not a reviewer who feels the need to tell you what the book is about, you can read blurbs else ware, but I can say this work is original, inspired, and very well written. It is not the armature drivel, about people barricading in a hotel and suddenly becoming Rambo's against the undead while exploring sophomoric scenes of sexuality. This, however strange it may seem, as a book about zombies and superheroes, is an adult read with some truly great character development. I give my highest compliments to Mr. Peter Clines and Permuted Press for bringing this work to light. I truly hope that Mr. Clines can find the will and time to make more stories like this. I for one will be sure to buy them.
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Ex-Heroes: A Novel
Ex-Heroes: A Novel by Peter Clines (Paperback - February 26, 2013)
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