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Ex-Heroes #1


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The first in a spectacularly genre-mashing adventure series that pits a small group of courageous, flawed, terrified superheroes against hordes of undead.

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.

336 pages, Paperback

First published February 20, 2010

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About the author

Peter Clines

36 books4,014 followers
Peter Clines is the author of the genre-blending -14- and the Ex-Heroes series.

He grew up in the Stephen King fallout zone of Maine and--inspired by comic books, Star Wars, and Saturday morning cartoons--started writing at the age of eight with his first epic novel, Lizard Men From The Center of The Earth(unreleased).

He made his first writing sale at age seventeen to a local newspaper, and at the age of nineteen he completed his quadruple-PhD studies in English literature, archaeology, quantum physics, and interpretive dance. In 2008, while surfing Hawaii's Keauwaula Beach, he thought up a viable way to maintain cold fusion that would also solve world hunger, but forgot about it when he ran into actress Yvonne Strahvorski back on the beach and she offered to buy him a drink. He was the inspiration for both the epic poem Beowulf and the motion picture Raiders of the Lost Ark, and is single-handedly responsible for repelling the Martian Invasion of 1938 that occurred in Grovers Mills, New Jersey. Eleven sonnets he wrote to impress a girl in high school were all later found and attributed to Shakespeare.

He is the writer of countless film articles, several short stories, The Junkie Quatrain, the rarely-read The Eerie Adventures of the Lycanthrope Robinson Crusoe, the poorly-named website Writer on Writing , and an as-yet-undiscovered Dead Sea Scroll.

He currently lives and writes somewhere in southern California.

There is compelling evidence that he is, in fact, the Lindbergh baby.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,519 reviews
Profile Image for mark monday.
1,645 reviews5,107 followers
June 7, 2012
superheroes + zombies should equal neverending delight for undiscriminating nerds such as myself. admittedly there was a little bit of delight. the action sequences were pretty well-done. the author can write action, check. and one hero in particular - a fellow by the name of Gorgon - was pretty nifty. he wears cool goggles that when dilated open allows his gorgony eyes to drain energy from anyone who looks at him, increasing his strength and martial ability to higher levels, depending on how many people are looking his way. cool super-hero, check. Clines has a bit of fun with gender (see below), which i appreciate; he also has a couple situations that had me feeling a wee bit tense. check and check.

unfortunately the debits outweigh the credits in Ex-Heroes. sub-par "cheeky" dialogue is one problem. another is the delusion that celebrities in Los Angeles are so plentiful that various characters can joke about taking out a dozen or so of the subspecies. not only did this running joke become annoying, it is entirely unrealistic. okay, i understand that saying something is "unrealistic" within a novel about superheroes protecting normals from zombie hordes in after-the-fall america is a bit laughable. but come on already, author-from-Maine. i've lived in So-Cal for a good number of years... celebrities can be relatively commonplace. relatively. but not so commonplace that random characters will be able to take down dozens of them. at times i felt like i was back traveling in Turkey and being asked yet again if i actually knew or had at least seen this or that celebrity... because L.A. must be such a small town, right? just too naively goofy a supposition.

but the problem that actually offended me is that the "good" L.A. of this novel is overwhelmingly, ridiculously WHITE AND NORMAL. perhaps it is actually based on Maine. all the normals are white, except for one repulsively characterized asian bitch. all of the superheroes are white, except for one dead asian superhero (a Korean who takes on a Japanese moniker for chrissakes) and another superhero who is black. and everyone is straight-ahead normal normal normal. on the other hand, the villains are characterized by their crazy hair, tattoos, oh and they are all LATINO gangbangers. the dearth of imagination when it came to race really aggravated me. hey Clines, having crazy hair and being inked AND BEING LATINO doesn't mean you're a bad person who wants to cause trouble. has the author actually ever been to L.A.? for all of its flaws, it is a racially diverse city full of people who pride themselves on looking different. as a once non-normal looking person and as an asian who is often confused with being latino, i was triply taken aback on behalf of all three demographics. boo! offensive lack of imagination!

the "Superhero Novel" is a gutter subgenre only slightly enlivened by the likes of Chabon and Soon I Will Be Invincible. this novel is not helping matters.


Super Template Action!

* Superman: St. George (formerly known as "The Mighty Dragon". not as clever an idea as it thinks it is)
* Batman: Stealth (a chick! i like)
* Iron Man: Cerberus (another chick! i doubly like)
* Captain Atom or perhaps Firestorm: Zzzap
* The Demon: Cairos

and a few who seem like original creations, which was nice. Gorgon, Regenerator (healing powers that are at the root of a surprisingly effective plot reveal), and Midknight (he has an EMP field! interesting).
Profile Image for carol..
1,537 reviews7,880 followers
March 28, 2015

Ex-Heroes, or a novel about a graphic novel about a comic soon to be a movie coming to a theater near you!

I have only two problems with Ex-Heroes.

Characterization and theme.

I understand that this is a book about superheroes, which lend themselves to stereotypes. Except in a genre full of them, Cline seems determined to use them all. There is the 'Boy Scout,' who is working for the greater good; the 'Anti-hero,' who is the bad boy that flaunts authority; the 'Radioactive,' who developed powers after being exposed to radiation (actually, Cline explains a couple superheroes this way); the 'Gifted Female,' whose sexuality is her dominant image; the 'Demon,' who has bonded with evil; the 'Teenager,' the normal kid who develops superpowers; the 'Bestial,' who has part animal in his nature. In a nod to Ironman, there is a female engineer in an iron suit. Whoops--I almost forgot the 'Woman in Refrigerator' character--the dead woman that moves the superhero's plot forward through grief/guilt/etc.(1) Oh, and for those who are aggravated by such things, at least two Supers are Mary Sues.

Extra negative points for stereotypes--first, the bitchy Asian council-woman; second, transforming a Korean girl into a Japanese hero; and third, making a Latino gang into the antagonists. What, you couldn't find any Nazis or Russians from 1960? Oh wait--the nickname of the Latino gang was abbreviated 'S.S.,' which almost counts. (For mark's insightful commentary, see (2))

Faint attempt to give cookie-cutter superheroes depth by giving introducing a 'past' and a 'present' narrative were insufficient. 'Nuff said.


The zombie apocalypse is about a loss of organized society as the individual struggles against the horrific; they become about survival, transformation and the meaning of humanity. The best apocalypse stories focus on rebuilding order out of chaos while struggling to survive. Ex-Heroes is pretty much the exact opposite.

After retreating to a movie studio, the supers essentially form their own oligarchy, or perhaps dictatorship, since Stealth makes all the decisions. The supers don't call it that, of course. But they are the ones strategizing, setting goals, deciding, protecting, and leading. Sure, normal humans help in some of these roles. But you don't hear humans participating in the process, except to fulfill the stereotypical role of antagonistic-suspicion-of-well-intentioned-superhero. The humans are the mirrors for the heroes, the pets, the sheep to lead and direct; the only agency they have is that of poor decision-making. Ultimately, while that may be a prevalent theme in superhero mediums, it is the antithesis of zombie apocalypse fiction.


What did I like? It was quick and readable. While the language was not ornate, it was coherent and focused. The "Then" narratives that gave background on the heroes were interesting and told well, even if they weren't particularly unique stories (ah, to be a beautiful genius--the troubles I would have!). The section I enjoyed the most is the one few zombie books concentrate on--recognizing the outbreak and attempting to curtail the viral invasion. Cline's analysis was likely spot on in the official reaction, and was creative when Stealth was sending Zzzap out on a mission to locate the living dead. Although some of the explanation of the virus was eye-rolling pseudo-science, but at the end it was combined with an impressive twist that made it worth the effort.

On the borderlands of my normal reading material, I appreciated the challenge. In regards to rating, it hits squarely in my 2.5 zone, but I imagine it is decently done for its genre.

Interesting but spelling-challenged analysis of superheroes:
(1) http://www.comicvine.com/comicbook-st...
mark monday's thoughtful review:
(2) http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...
Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,608 reviews1,481 followers
July 26, 2019
Sale Alert: Kindle Daily deal 26Jul19 $1.99

3.5 Stars (It seems to be my default rating)
It doesn’t matter. I don’t care what you believe in. The Loch Ness monster, Bigfoot, faked moon landings, the 2000 election results—you can believe in whatever fairy tale you want.

Before you read this book you have to ask yourself:

1. Do I like Books that read like summer blockbuster movies?
2. Do I like Flawed Superheroes that aren’t completely altruistic?
3. Do I like Zombie Books?
4. Do I like dark humor that also includes pop culture references?
5. If Joss Whedon and J.J. Abrams had a son that only wrote books would he be Peter Clines?

If you said yes three or more of the above questions then Ex-Heroes is probably right up your alley.

I really enjoyed how this book took two genres and really combined them together seamlessly. It could have become extra cheesy with Superheroes and Zombies but I really enjoyed the moments that were serious and the others that made fun of the zombie apocalypse itself. I alternated between the Audio (which is fantastic and I totally recommend if you listen to Audiobooks at all) and the ebook.

The story is set around a group of Superheroes who have come together Avenger style to protect a group of people inside a former movie studio. The story is revealed in a past/present multiple POV telling much in the style of LOST. From the POV of the Superheroes there are a few chapters in the present and then a chapter from the past and the beginning of the zombie apocalypse. In the collapse of society it isn’t just the Zombies that our Heroes have to face. They are also in a turf war with a gang from LA who wants the guns and ammunition the Heroes have stockpiled.
People could say a lot of negative things about the apocalypse, but there was no arguing the air quality in Los Angeles had really improved.

With the way the story is told the reader gets a sense of the decay of society and how it all went downhill so fast. Plus Peter Clines did something that no other Zombie book I’ve read to date has done. He actually showed us how the Zombie virus got start and who was Patient Zero. It was done in such a great way that I thought it blended in with the story perfectly, so bravo on that.

There are plenty of times to be serious throughout the book and well not everyone makes it out alive (it’s a zombie book I don’t think anyone should be surprised by that) there is enough dark humor to keep me engaged in the story. Clines even included a game of your top 5 celebrity kills to kind of show how in the aftermath people are trying to keep spirits up. What an interesting take on the fall of society and there is even the new additional problems of former superheroes as Zombies.

Peter Clines gave every POV a very distinctive feel and even changed the way the story was told in a few chapters to really change the voice of each. The way the chapter on Cairax was written in particular was my favorite.

There were only a few things I struggled with. There are a lot of characters and all the Superheroes have their secret identity name and then their Superhero name. I got a little confused keeping them all straight for a little while sorta like a George RR Martin Book I needed a character tree. But by the end I totally had the hang of it I hope. Because there are so many characters it was hard to get a really in-depth look at any. But since this is a series I’m sure that will be ultimately remedied.

The only other issue I had was with the action sequences getting a little bit repetitive that I lost focus. But I’m totally a girl and that would happen for me in a blockbuster movie as well. There are great moments in the action sequences too, like using one zombie to knock around others and such but I only have a limited attention span for fight scenes.

All and all this was a lot of fun and as I didn’t know anything about this book other than I liked a different Peter Clines book called 14 I wasn’t sure what to expect. I will just say that I’m pleasantly surprised and can’t wait to see what the next installment brings.
Profile Image for Eric.
427 reviews84 followers
August 11, 2011
How kickass is this book? I am currently sitting on toilet but not going to the bathroom at work just to try and get my thoughts out. I figure that if anyone does read this, enjoys the hell out of this book, and comes to thank me because of my review - they won't mind. Deal with it :p

Seriously I love the imagery of the entire thing. You would think that it's all just blood, guts, and load of undead and in one way it totally is but there is so much more. Epic. This book is totally epic. The way Clines tells the story with his then and nows is very well developed. It's like he's a master juggler putting on his best act just asking you to keep on watching. He's good. So good I'm starting the next part as soon as I'm done here. And after that I'm pretty sure I'm a fan and will read his other works ASAP. Update: I am a HUGE fan. No hesitation to speak of. Clines is a genius. Seriously though in an uncoordinated hand this story would be all over the place.

He takes you wherever you think you want to go, keeps the story moving along in real time, knowing where it's going shows you just a sliver to make sure you're paying attention all while the juggling act keeps going you didn't even see he's go the grand finale unloading on another part of the stage. You just can't believe there's fire, and more gasoline and a tiger and the Titanic (how did he get the Titanic on stage you may ask, YOU DON'T CARE AND YOU'RE GOING TO BE OK WITH IT!) all seemly like it's not big deal the fireworks are not going off indoors to blow the roof off over your head. One moment you're hearing exposition and you think to yourself ok I have a grasp of what's going on and then he shows you a new trick, taking you to a different time or place like it's meant to happen that way and you're left there just staring. Not trying to make sense of it but to wonder how did you get sucked in so deep, so quickly. Love it. Yes I know the act may seem like a bit much at times but when you get home later and your house has pimped out by Clines cause he got bored with his magic act you thank him. That's what I'm trying to tell you right now. I thank you Mr. Clines. I thank you for sharing your awesome with us.

Also I've had a couple of delusions of grandeur while reading this. One, making it into a blockbuster movie is inevitable and two, while I really liked the heroes portrayed I actually had a few favorites not just one and a bunch of sidekicks. I want them to all have their own films. I'm a fan. Just saying.

Its actually taking me a bit longer than I thought to get all this down on my phone and so without rising any suspicion in here I'm going to pause it.

Seriously though, have I mentioned how sweet this book is? It honestly felt like someone pumped some adrenaline into my veins. Work has moved quick with some books lately (don't get me wrong) but this one... hot damn the night was over almost as soon as it started AND we're in mandatory overtime. Yeah yeah I'm clearly out of the bathroom now ;-)

I'm recommending this to anyone who's a fan of the genre, anyone curious, anyone with a pulse really. I mean it's a totally different feel than Hold Me Closer, Necromancer (was that really last week already?) but it's just as worth it. Honest.
Profile Image for Lee  (the Book Butcher).
257 reviews67 followers
October 18, 2021
Given this by a friend based on me watching the walking dead. More like a comic book than a novel or a script of a walking dead season with superheroes. Have a confession to make i don't really like superheroes. for anyone that is keeping count that's superheroes and fantasy high elves in the dislike column. please don't unfriend me. If the walking dead or superheroes or 10 year old pop culture references are you're thing check this out. I for one found the writing subpar compared to my normal reads. think the screenwriters of the walking dead could have done better!
Profile Image for Lindsey Rey.
286 reviews2,705 followers
April 11, 2015
The concept for this is really cool. I certainly have never read anything with superheroes AND zombies before and thia book definitely surprised me. However, I find it kind of confusing to keep track of the characters and order of events and so I never really got into the story. I am not going to continue the series but if you want a superhero and zombie book, I would give this a shot!
Profile Image for Char.
1,638 reviews1,488 followers
October 17, 2012
3.5 star rating

I borrowed this book from another Kindler because someone chose it as our horror group read on Shelfari and to be honest, I didn't want to buy it. It's not the type of book that I would normally read. I like superheroes and whatnot but a couple of hundred pages worth? Yeah...I was wary.
I have to admit that I was surprised at how much I ended up enjoying this book.

There were several superheroes, all original creations. At least I think they were because I have never heard of them. As the story progressed, there where chapters labeled 'Now' and 'Then'. Each 'Then' segment spent a bit of time with a superhero and filled in the gaps about them-as far as how they were created and how they came to be in LA fighting zombies.

Yes, superheroes fighting zombies...I know it sounds silly (and it was a little bit silly), but it was also well written, gory, bloody and just good fun. I will be buying the second book, just to see what happens.
Profile Image for Mike (the Paladin).
3,145 reviews1,820 followers
October 19, 2012
I hate this! I gave 14 a 4...now I'm giving this a 4, but 14 is better. It's just that I think this is better than a 3. Curse you 5 star rating system!

We'll have to call this one 3.5 as, like I said 14 is better, but this one is good.

I think this is first Zombie Apocalypse book I've ever made it all the way through (though I could be wrong). Anyway as ubiquitous as these books...and movies and video games and short stories and so on...are you might be temped to think, "ayah another zombie book. What's the big deal?"

Well yeah...but this is zombies vs. superheroes...and even some zombie superheroes (or would that automatically be a super-villain? Oh well) I mean...come on you've got to admit that's just coolness on wheels!

So...what's the story here?

What do you mean what's the story here??? Zombies have over run the earth, they always do that. There's nobody more inconsiderate that a bunch of undead flesh crunchers. I mean these things are so predictable. No matter what anyone else wants their only interested in one thing...food. And you're food.

Then you're one of them and all you're interested in is eating other people. Well, that and keeping your rotting parts from falling off.

So, kinda fun (if a story that assumes the death of the majority of humanity can be called "fun") lots of action, smash bang super folks and monstrously powerful undead...things.

Any down side? maybe a couple but since this is pure unadulterated brain candy that doesn't try for any depth or redeeming value what do you want? Okay I'll put the one thing that annoyed me under a spoiler warning below. Still, while I wasn't enthralled and my mind wandered off a few times it's still a good book, enjoy.

There's more, but nothing major. I've got X-Patriots waiting so hopefully I'll get to it soon...and hopefully the writer will do more stuff as good as 14.

Recommended for those who like things you know, spelled out.
Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
2,034 reviews2,605 followers
February 23, 2016
A rather quick "fluff" read, with a very simple story. It doesn't take itself too seriously, so I wouldn't either; just sit back, don't think too much, and enjoy the ride. Be prepared for loads of pop culture references and humorous dialogue, and just an all all-around fun time especially if you're into superheroes...fighting zombies.
Profile Image for Mihir.
645 reviews296 followers
November 7, 2011

Review originally at Fantasy Book Critic

Overall rating = 4 & 1/2 Stars

FORMAT/INFO: Ex-Heroes is 261 pages long divided over a prologue, twenty-six numbered/titled chapters, and an epilogue. 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. Ex-Heroes is self-contained and is the first book in the Ex Trilogy.

February 25, 2010 marked the paperback and e-book publication of Ex-Heroes via Permuted press. Cover art is provided by Garret DeChellis.

CLASSIFICATION: 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.

ANALYSIS: I had been noticing Ex-Heroes since last year however it kind of got lost in my “Books-to-be-checked” list. However Amazon’s recommendations made sure that it was never really out of my mind, as it always used to pop up every now and then. After the release of Ex-Patriots the sequel to this book, I contacted the publisher for review copies and they graciously sent both the books over promptly. I was hugely excited to see that it was focusing on superheroes coupled with zombies and I was hoping that it would not disappoint.

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.
Profile Image for RG.
3,090 reviews
April 14, 2018
Very easy book to read. Flows very well. Just not the most amazing take on superheroes and zombies combined. The plotting is ok with some decent twists. My biggest issue is the characterisation. It just seemed a little flat, and to be honest, I didnt gel with anyone. I also kept comparing it to Sandersons series, which I think does a much better job of characterisation and story telling. If you want a very easy read, wont take you long to finish, about superheroes fighting zombies then give it shot, but maybe check Sandersons series first.
Profile Image for Ash Wednesday.
441 reviews524 followers
October 9, 2013
"You can't be Banzai!" cried Mom. "Banzai is a boy. It was in the paper."
"Yeah, I know. It helps hide my identity."
"That name," shouted Dad. "How could you pick a Japanese name for yourself? You're Korean!"

I shouldn't lulz over that exchange, but I did.

I could easily hype this book up with big, all caps, and bold proclamations of each heroes' abilities on this one (okay I may have to indulge The Mighty Dragon because holy hell, A FIRE BREATHING HOOMAN!) but I should probably start with a disclaimer that my knowledge of comic books is severely limited to whatever fodder Hollywood decides to feed me. Which speaks as well for the limited range of zombie books I've read.

Shuddup, comic book guy.

Full review.
Profile Image for Becky.
827 reviews155 followers
June 6, 2016
I loved Cline’s “14”. 14 was a great, easy, fast-paced, and fun read. It hit all the right notes for reading pleasure. Ex-Heroes had a fun premise- people with super powers that are turned into zombies still retain their powers as they now hunt for human flesh. Sounds interesting right? The execution of weaving multiple stories was good, showing each currently serving hero before and after the zombie apocalypse, and how the world came to be the way it is. So what went wrong? For me it was definitely the characters. Cline wanted to hit all the hero tropes- the sexualized heroine, the gunslinger who’s ends justified the means, the boy scout…. You get the picture. The problem was that they never progressed beyond being just tropes. They were flat, and to me, unrelatable. I listened to the whole story because it was fine, and it passed the time as I weeded my garden, but at no point was I desperately waiting to hear what happened next, or trying to “solve” the puzzle along with the heroes. I wasn’t bored, but I wasn’t engaged either. I lacked the energy I had had when reading 14. Stealth, the hyper-sexualized female dictator of the superheroes, was to me the most boring, ah woe to me, genius of the beautiful face and bounteous bosoms, but even St. George, arguably the *most* main character, had all of Captain America’s goody-two-shoes attitude but not of the struggle, fervor, or heart to make the character work for me. Ultimately a 2-star read, which is just okay. Night of the Living Trekkies was more fun and The Girl With All the Gifts is a legitimately great book.

Also- when I think superheroes and zombies I automatically think scifi. Why is that? I mean, it depends on the mechanism by which the superheroes and zombies get their powers, right? There is a fine line between superhero and wizard, and zombies are fantastical creatures more than scifi creatures if the mechanism is a curse, or the dead just rise. Now I want to read a book about necromantic science. Really blur those scifi and fantasy lines. Authors, go forth and write!
Profile Image for Gergana.
227 reviews391 followers
Shelved as 'zzz-books-not-for-me'
January 27, 2016
Read from May 28 to 29, 2015

Ex-heroes was not meant for me, but I still recommend checking it out!

You don't have to love stories about zombies in order to enjoy this book, but you have to be tolerant towards them. The sole reason I lost interest in EX-heroes was the annoying sense of deja-vu that I some times get when I watch a movie, a tv show or play a video game featuring a virus turning everyone into brainless man-eating monsters. And yes, I know it's a genre on its own, so I don't really have the right to complain about the similarities.

Ex-heroes goes one step further by adding people with super powers who are trying to protect whatever's left of humanity. Surviving an apocalyptic future might sound easier if you have heroes on your side, right? Don't get your hopes high, they are more powerful than any human, but not powerful enough to save everybody and that is exactly what makes this book unique and worth checking out- how do you deal with the sense of responsibility, the struggles knowing that all this power you posses is not making as much of a difference as you wished. Loved the angst, loved the heroes' POVs.

Unfortunately for me, I think I am getting tired of the zombie-survival genre. Even if it features super-heroes.

Has anyone noticed how big zombies have become for the past 5-10 years? Talk about:
1. movies (World War Z, I am legend, 28 days later, Shaun of the Dead, Warm Bodies, etc.)
2. TV shows (The Walking Dead, iZombie, Z nation, The Strain, etc.)
3. Video games (The Last of Us, Resident Evil and many others)
and so on.
Profile Image for Shamus McCarty.
Author 2 books75 followers
May 12, 2013
I really liked super heroes as a kid, but as I got older I started liking my fiction a little darker. So I got more into Stephen King and zombie stuff, then “The Watchmen” came out. I liked Watchmen because the heroes had a dark side to them. They were not all good, they were flawed, I liked that.

So when I met Peter at a con and got his book I was curious to read it.

Super Heroes AAAAND Zombies! Sign me up!

My favorite parts were the origin stories, the heroes and zombies are both relatively new to this world.

To keep this brief I’m just going to talk about one.


Maxwell Hale is a magician. Not like that D-Bag Chris Angle, but like a sorcerer. He had a theory, if demons can possess people… Well that’s a two way door right. So he experimented with some spells, gathered some artifacts, waited until the stars lined up just right, and hijacked a demons body from another dimension. The only problem is, when he steals the demons body, he THINKS like a demon. He’s still himself, but his thoughts are ‘filtered’ so to say.

So, after the outbreak happens and Cairax (Maxwell’s demon skin) is out saving humanity, it doesn’t seem weird to ‘have relations’ with Jessica Alba’s zombified corpse. To Cairax it’s more like jerking off than anything else. And besides, so far he’s proven immune to the virus.

WRONG! Should have worn a condom you dumbass demon. Now the rest of us get to fight a zombified soldier from hell.
Profile Image for Dawn.
326 reviews102 followers
December 23, 2015
I really liked both 14 and The Fold, so I thought I'd give this series a try as well. Unfortunately, I was pretty disappointed with the first book. It was ok, but just ok, and I was hoping for awesome. I don't even know what else to say about it. It wasn't anything in particular that bothered me, the story just wasn't that good. Disappointing for sure, but since I like Clines I'll go ahead and try book two at some point. Hopefully it gets better!
Profile Image for Lauren Stoolfire.
3,572 reviews259 followers
August 21, 2017
Not quite as good as either The Walking Dead or The Avengers (that's a very tall order, anyway), but still a good combination of zombies and superheroes. My main issue was keeping track of who's who and who can do what - it's easy to get the characters mixed up, especially right off the bat. I'm not sure if I will be continuing the series, but I do think that Ex-Heroes could be awesome on the big screen.

Profile Image for David Church.
110 reviews37 followers
June 4, 2015
Man this book was a fanboys dream. It took my two favorite genres horror & super-heroes and smooshed (or is it smushed? Or should I say smashed?) them together to make this novel that reads like a blockbuster movie coming out. Peter Cline does a great job on fleshing out the characters with flashbacks ala Lost with then & now segments of the book. Some characters like Stealth you associate with a Batman knockoff or the Mighty Dragon – Superman (sorta…maybe not so much) but Clines comes up with some really unique ones as well.
Does this book have flaws? Yes. But that is ok. It’s like eating at a restaurant with a “B” rating that serves really good food. As long as you don’t try too hard to find out what the B rating is for, the food still tastes exceptional.
Profile Image for C.T. Phipps.
Author 73 books586 followers
November 16, 2019

Having recently purchased Ex-Heroes on Kindle, I tore through it and decided to post my review of the work. I'm a big fan of both superheroes and zombies, so I figured this would be a natural fit. I admit, however, I was initially leery of the combination.

Marvel's Zombies was a story that I felt never reached its full potential (in fact: I actually preferred the Army of Darkness/Marvel comics crossover for zombies + superheroes). Overall, if you need any more thoughts about what I think of this story, it boils down to this: it's much better than Marvel's Zombies and is well worth the cover price. It did, however, have some areas that I think could be improved.

The thing I enjoyed most about Ex-Heroes is the use of archetypes. One reason I never got into Heroes or many independent productions is that appeal of superheroes for me is actually the stories told about the most famous of them: Superman, Batman, Iron Man, the Question and so on. Ex-Heroes doesn't just insert copies of these characters but it does have enough analogues that the question of "How would superheroes react to zombies?" is answered in sufficient detail to be enjoyed on that level.

The heroes are not nearly so flawless as the ones in DC comics, though some of them come close. Also, their transformation into heroes has occurred only within the past few years. I'm not sure it helps the believability, so to speak, that a dozen superheroes of varying types of origins appear from different circumstances all in the past few years before the Zombiepocalypse. Still, it helps free the world from requiring an encyclopedia-sized backstory like Astro City or Wild Cards. I personally appreciated that Peter Clines kept the flaws from being remotely similar to the Watchmen, aside from being sexual the majority of them are genuinely selfless and noble people.

The premise is somewhat similar to Land of the Dead in that it is an isolated fortress-like community (a refurbished Paramount Studios) being protected against an ongoing siege of seemingly endless numbers of zombies. The heroes, so to speak, have to make routine dangerous raids into hostile territory (in this case the greater Los Angeles area) in order to gain supplies. It's one of my favorite premises for a zombie movie and one that I enjoy a great deal. It shows the heroes are doing their job, even if they are faced with overwhelming odds. I never much cared for the "individual survivors" premise because I liked being able to see the bigger picture.

Really, the biggest part of the book's appeal is the lead characters: Gorgon, Saint George, Stealth, and Cerberus. I'm especially fond of Stealth, who is an amusing case of being a heroic sociopath and a Defrosting Ice Queen at once. My second favorite character is Cerberus, who I hope will have an equally prominent role in later books. While the only romances in the book are highly dysfunctional ones, the story of Banzai and Gorgon being especially interesting, I hope that we'll see more in Ex-Patriots.

The book neatly avoids the problem that many zombie movies possess, which is that such stories rarely have intriguing villains. Zombies, being the mindless force that they are, require a Herbert West or an Umbrella Corporation to provide drama. This book has the Los Angeles Seventeens, a street gang which is possessed of no redeeming qualities whatsoever. I'm not sure, honestly, if I quite bought that any street gang could be quite as deadly as this one is depicted as. Still, I was willing to believe the almost tribal brutality depicted in the story by the end so that's all I needed to end my objections.

I do feel like the book has some issues. There's some nastiness with one character who decides to do some unpleasantly sexual things with a celebrity zombie (that has consequences any idiot could predict). Also, the only Latin characters (in LA) are part of the street gang. The author himself admitted some of these problems and corrected the imbalance in future books but it's still present in the original. Still, this is a somewhat hard-R take on superheroes with the heroes mostly good people but a few being scumbags that turn villain.

In summary, I was very interested in the world and pleased by the fact that the Zombiepocalypse is not resolved by the end of the book. There's plenty of stories left to tell in the universe and ones that I am eager to see. I hope to see more of the characters and more hook-ups within new volumes. So, I suppose that is the best measure of a story review that can be shared.

October 6, 2010
This could have been SO HOKEY. But it wasn’t – it was absolutely fabulous. For the record, I do not like comic books, superheroes, or comic book superheroes. When this book first showed up and was tagged as “zombies”, of course I looked into it. I LOVE zombies. But I read the description and I thought, nah, that’s not my thing and doesn’t sound interesting to me - the summary of the plot read like every young boy comic book lover’s wet dream, and didn’t spark any desire for me to purchase it, being that I am a *cough* well-past-my-teens aged woman.

As time passed and the reviews for this book kept coming in, I had to take another look. A book about superheroes and zombies with ALL 4 and 5 stars?? REALLY? I bit the bullet and decided to take a chance on a writer I’ve never read who had a book that didn’t pique my interest.
Yes, there’s superheroes. The heroes are well written and have human failings, just like the rest of us, though they are larger than life. And zombies…zombies with a twist. They’re shamblers, as zombies should be, except the “special” ones who are not sprinters but they are oh, so much more!

I loved the relationship between the humans and the superheroes, though some of the humans should have been snuffed out like bugs….ungrateful bustards. Yeah, I said bustards.

This book was extremely well written, plot well thought out, well planned, well executed and well edited.

This may well have been the best surprise purchase I have made all year. Way to go, Mr. Cline - and thank you! Another really great book from Permuted Press.
Profile Image for Erin Dunn.
Author 3 books88 followers
November 9, 2016
No thanks. I can't finish this one. The characters are very stereotypical superheroes and it reads as if it's for a prepubescent boy, which I'm not. I don't think this is a horrible book, it's just not for me at all.
Profile Image for Neil.
121 reviews30 followers
December 3, 2014
You don't have to like zombies or superheroes to like this book its just a very good read with a lot of interesting characters.
Profile Image for David.
Author 18 books336 followers
January 14, 2012
Superheroes and zombie novels appeal to the fourteen-year-old boy in me, and when I read one, I am usually disappointed because I am no longer a fourteen-year-old boy. Ex-Heroes is the ultimate superheroes+zombies mashup, with the Earth's surviving superheroes (okay, Los Angeles's surviving superheroes) protecting what remains of the living human population from the undead hordes after the zombie apocalypse.

This very "high concept" premise makes for a fun story that would make a pretty entertaining comic series, and Clines delivers plenty of gonzo superheroic action combined with gonzo zombie gore. You can really see he is trying to describe multi-panel superhero slugfests and gut-ripping zombie action in full four-color spectacle just as it would appear on the pages of a comic book, which is why the fight scenes are prolonged and detailed and full of roars and screams and sound effects and people getting knocked through walls and blasted about, interspersed with hero/villain banter and the occasional monologue. So Clines has the feel of the genre for sure.

But that's all this book is: a novelized comic book. The characters are interesting insofar as we get flashbacks to their origins, a description of their powers and major personality quirks, and then their current doings in post-zombie-apocalypse LA, but no one really comes alive as more than a comic book illustration accompanied by a list of vitals. Cerberus is the chick in the mecha suit, Stealth is the emotionally detached mastermind who dresses in leather lingerie, Gorgon is the guy whose underage girlfriend got zombified and now he is muchly angsted, the Mighty Dragon is Superman with fire-breath, etc. The Big Bad, when he finally appears, is only mildly threatening since we're pretty much told he's an idiot, which means he'll rack up a few casualties and then be defeated.

Clines delivers servicable action, but his writing is not great and his characterization is about par for a comic book. This is a fun but eminently forgettable romp, though I might listen to book two the next time I need some entertainment only slightly less mindless than a zombie movie.
Profile Image for Lizzy Lessard.
327 reviews88 followers
July 24, 2013
When EX-HEROES mixed super-heroes and zombies, I didn't realize how dumb un-scary zombies would be if there is no threat of dying. Besides the fact that three of the main characters are immune to zombie bites, zombies are incredibly slow and dumb, they’re developing a vaccine to cure everyone of zombie bites so eventually everyone will be immune. Yay. . Zombies are only cool when there's a high likeliness of the entire world's population ending up as zombies. Zombies are not cool when some guy in flashy underwear man-handle zombies like zerglings.

This has to be one of the most difficult reviews I've written, because I have almost nothing to say about the book. Why? Because the scenes are repetitive and the set-up for character introduction are redundant.

How EX-HEROES unfolds:

- Introduce character
- Lengthy background
- Scene involve the character killing zombies
- Introduce next character
- Lengthy background
- Scene involving the character killing zombies
- Repeat 6 more times
- Introduce plot for next book
- BAM! The end.

One thing is for sure. I've never read a zombie novel quite like this one. I would say that at least 80% of the novel was outright zombie killing (zombies are known as ex-es). It's awful that I had not a single ounce of empathy for any of the characters throughout the story. I was shocked by how often little kids were killed, mutilated and/or zombified. It didn't add to the story and it felt like a ploy to get the reader's heartstrings moving.

The plot doesn't kick in until the final couple of chapters. If the next book picks up where this one stops, then it stands a good chance of being a decent read. But, EX-HEROES is not a standalone book. It's an introduction to a series. There's a huge character cast and it really kills the pacing of the book (along with several thousands zombies). If you are committed to reading the second book, then you might not mind this. If you'd rather a book that can survive on its own, then feed this one to your pet zombie.

(I received a copy of this book from the publisher/Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.)
Profile Image for Thomas.
1,940 reviews59 followers
January 25, 2022
I've dug Clines's work so far, since even when his stories are a little less exciting than the others, I still have a lot of fun reading them, and they go by crazy fast. Ex-Heroes was his first novel, and while it's still mighty impressive as a first novel (especially one that he states in the acknowledgements was finished in just a few months), it still reads like a first novel. It's clunky in places, and feels a little forced in others, but I still had a lot of fun reading it, and it went by crazy fast.

The way he presents his female characters is a little weird, though. He spends a lot of time talking about how they look and what their sex lives are like, enough that it just feels kinda skeevy. I mean, it's okay to show that two characters are dating, but it seems a little weird to get into what positions they prefer during sex to show that. That kind of thing kept appearing over and over again, and it felt out of place and, frankly, inappropriate. I'm no prude, it just didn't seem to fit what he was trying to do with the story (especially when the female characters were strong and self-sufficient).

This is really more like 3.5 stars, but I can't quite bring myself to make it four stars. I'll definitely be reading the rest of the series, though.

2022 Popsugar Reading Challenge: A book whose title begins with the last letter of your previous read (Bleed into Me)
Profile Image for David Katzman.
Author 3 books450 followers
April 11, 2017
Zombies are easy. I mean, they were old in 1999 as a metaphor. Romero is the original and no one since has really done anything too new with it. I'll admit, I liked the Walking Dead comics...to a point. The torture issue finished it for me, and I never went back. But I did appreciate the theme running through WD that no matter how brutal the zombies were, it was the cruelty of the living humans that was always the greatest. But zombies were old in 1999 when I mocked the gimmick in my first novel, Death by Zamboni, by having the main character riff on how fun it was to beat up zombies. You can tear 'em apart...or whatever...just for fun. See, no one cares if you kill zombies. It's the perfect excuse for violence. We can glorify the violence and excuse the heroes brutality...because they are dead things, after all. Just viruses controlling bodies for inscrutable reasons.

And that brings us to Ex Heroes, a mash-up of superheroes and zombies, which allows for R-rated superhero violence in that exact manner. No one can think badly of them for tearing apart a zombie, right? Well, actually. My gut reaction to this book was that it was racist. I gave it a chance because I thought, it might end up having a racial theme arise somewhere later in the story. But no. Two things made me feel it was racist. One, every time an individual zombie was described (gleefully) as being ripped apart, we were told what race they belonged to. Since this book happened to be set in LA, there were quite a few Asians. He'd also describe if they were blonde or brunette or old or young. But especially the race and especially Asian. Then second, there was the Latino gang that was portrayed as being lead by a single intelligent undead monster. Who could control zombies with his superpower. The gang members were portrayed as animalistic, for the most part, in the most old skool clichéd gang fashion. Like something from a 70s movie like The Warriors or Mad Max perhaps. Their humanity was not really acknowledged by the author.

The racism may very well have been unintentional, and I am not saying the author is personally racist. But I found his book to be racist and expressed joyful detail in tearing apart zombies. Once I noticed it, I felt that subtly, the Asian zombies got it worse than the others. I'm sure it was a...coincidence.
Profile Image for Zedsdead.
1,093 reviews65 followers
June 6, 2018
Ex-Heroes is a superheroes-vs-zombies genre mash-up. Los Angeles has been overrun by the living dead. A few heroes have teamed up with a couple thousand civilians to turn Paramount Studios into a walled compound. A large, heavily armed street gang with a grudge against one of the heroes begins making trouble for the good guys.

The group's leader is a Batman analog named Stealth. She has no true powers, just a mind like a computer, a strategic and tactical brilliance, and a knack for violence. Second in command is Mighty Dragon/Superman, who flies and is strong and bulletproof and breathes fire. There's also an Iron Man (Cerberus), Rogue (Gorgon), Wolverine (Regenerator), Human Torch (Zzap) and a few others.

First, the good stuff:

I like the effort Clines has put into the logistics of his heroes...Dragon sort of glides instead of flying like Superman, and if you hit him hard enough he actually bruises. Zzap can't carry anything in his energy form, and his full-spectrum perception is actually a hindrance when hunting cold-blooded exes (zombies). Cerberus has trouble with her battlesuit's power supply. Et cetera.

I like the plot construction. Chapters bounce back and forth between "now" and "then", with then-chapters combining hero-origin with zombie-outbreak stories. Clines rather skillfully uses the early "thens" to build his world, and later "thens" for plot twists and reveals while still creating character backgrounds.

I loved some of the details that went into the characters. A Korean martial artist chooses a Japanese codename (Banzai) because hey, she's just a dumb teenager with no sense of her cultural history. It works. Stealth is basically a high-functioning autistic. A former LA-councilwoman is a fear-mongering troublemaker and rabblerouser because...well, she's not a good person and expects everyone else to be like her.

Now, the bad:

Peter Clines no rite too gud. In spite of what I've read in some other reviews, I thought the action scenes were a weak point. Good Guy punch Bad Guy, Bad Guy throw Good Guy. Repeat until Clever Resolution.

There were disappointing lapses in logic. Zombies leap unconvincingly from nowhere to eat glaringly disposable characters who might as well be wearing red shirts. A squad of Marines gets off a military transport plane and engages in conveniently gory hand-to-hand combat with a flood of exes. They could easily have sent out the invulnerable battle-suited Cerberus to clear some space first.

Nevertheless, Ex-Heroes was entertaining and fast-paced, a worthwhile read.
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