For our first Outhouse Book Club, we take a look at the zombie super-hero novel: "Ex-Heroes" by Peter Clines.
I'm pretty sure you already know who I am. As for everyone else... I don't think there are enough people left to make a secret identity worth the effort.Stealth. Gorgon. Regenerator. Cerberus. Zzzap. The Mighty Dragon. They were heroes. Vigilantes. Crusaders for justice, using their superhuman abilites 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.
My overall feeling about the book was pretty good. I liked the pace, the many 1st person narrative perspectives, and the characters were fun. The goods and the bads of the are story are mixed together.
1. The flow of the story reminds of a box of puzzle pieces not put together, but you know it'll all come together in the end. I like the way the chapters take you from the "now" and "thens, but I found myself having to push through the first 4 chapters or so before feeling a groove for it. Once I got in it and saw the pattern of characters being introduced and later explained in another chapter, I was then able to understand what to look forward to.
2. I found it clever that the heroes abilities were in a way linked to their human character. Stealth wanted nothing more than to be not seen, Josh wanted to doctor people, That Ape guy (forget his name, C something) had split personality disorder, Barry wanted to be free of his human body, and so forth. Kinda neat to see the whole "mind over matter" mutations mentality rather than just random abilities of a freak accident. I suppose Cerberus technically wasn't a mutation, but she still belongs with transforming herself with the use of her mind.
3. Why didn't he just cut his damn arm off? Did I miss something somewhere or wouldn't have Josh been able to cut his arm off and get rid of the infections? Even if he couldn't have grown in back, why couldn't he have Buzz amputate it? I don't know. Kinda bugs me. I guess it could be his badge of guilt in the story?
4. I kind of saw it coming. When they showed lack of development in the earlier part of the book regarding Josh's wife's death and how it kept being brought up. And with his ability to heal and mentioning he couldn't heal the dead, I wondered how far did he try and if he pulled a frankenstein trying to reanimate. Plus I knew that Gordon's involvement with the 17's was too personal than to have one of them be patient zero. At first I thought maybe he cursed someone after fighting them and could have said "you'll live with this guilt forever", but then it would have stopped at death as the mind went away. Confused anyone enough?
~Alima~ wrote: 3. Why didn't he just cut his damn arm off? Did I miss something somewhere or wouldn't have Josh been able to cut his arm off and get rid of the infections? Even if he couldn't have grown in back, why couldn't he have Buzz amputate it? I don't know. Kinda bugs me. I guess it could be his badge of guilt in the story?
SPOILERS: I remember thinking the same thing AFTER I found out the virus didn't cause the turn. His arm being stuck like that due to the virus thinking it caused the turn made sense to me, but when it was explained that it was already in everyone and various infections are what caused the death then it didn't add up. If he can heal a gun shot to his head, he can heal a bunch of infections from a bite.
Also regarding zzap, very cool character. I liked him.
SPOILERS: He had the same problem as every superman like character though, it's hard to not have him solve everything for everyone and create drama with him around. The excuse of him not liking the "feel" of incinerating zombies by flying through them is a pretty weak excuse when we are talking about them attacking and killing everyone.
I really enjoyed this book. When I first heard about the premise (zombie apocalypse with superheroes), I thought it would be predictable and trite, but I was proven wrong. Clines pulls a hat trick many times by making these superhumans seem like they belong in that context, and equally share with everyday people in the mixture of desperation and hope for survival.
Clines's writing style is so visceral, but not in a reliant-upon-gore manner. While he doesn't get into the mundane details of b.o., crotchrot or canker sores, he does give us a glimpse of the grime that would be present in that scenario. We also get a glimpse into these characters' sex lives--not in a voyeuristic manner, but in a human/relatable manner. I think all of that helps us identify with both the heroes and the humans, so we can invest more in their story and not feel so distant from the action (not unlike the age-old problem DC has had in relation to Marvel).
I have some spoiler-ific questions/comments, but I'll reserve those for a bit. Some have already been asked by Alima (especially why Regenerator didn't cut his arm off).
Funny, when I first ordered this since it was for the club I didn't bother reading any of the blurbs or reviews on Amazon, I just ordered it. With the title I thought it was going to be a fantasy story. First page it said something about St George flying over and I was like huh. Then I looked at the cover and was like, oh those are zombies down there. Thinking St George was in a helicopter or something. A few sentences more and I flipped it over and read the back b/c I realized there was no helicopter he was flying in.
I really, really enjoyed this book. It was such a nice mix of zombie horror, human relations and super hero action. I could relate to all the characters bc they had a very human feel to them. I loved the flashbacks as well, without them I think the story would have lacked a real connection. Normally flashbacks can take you out of the flow of the story but these were perfectly placed within the book. I liked all the pop culture references as well. My favorite being the Aliens line by Zzap, that was really funny.
One of my only gripes was I wanted to explore Gorgons past a bit more and find out what really got the 17's to hate him to much.
Great read! I’m glad I took part in this. Much better super hero story with zombies than Marvel Zombies.
The super heroes really made me mad during the big battle in the end, they did some really dumb things:
Gorgon: Fighting the big bad one on one, why did he do that? He had nothing to prove, they should have just gotten Zzap to blast him away.
Cerberus: All that targeting software and she doesn’t shoot the bad guy in the head.
St. George: For getting his ass kicked for so long and not taking the demon’s necklace off in the first place. But he did seem to get a power boost after the fight so I guess it worked out for the best.
Zzap: For being a big baby. He could single handedly have killed all the zombies surrounding the Mount and the big bad but he doesn’t like how it felt. What a terrible super hero!
Stealth: She’s the leader and the brains so she’s to blame for some of the stuff above. She should have told Zzap to man up and kill all the zombies surrounding the Mount or worked on some other way of getting rid of them beforehand.
Banzai: For getting herself killed. She’s three times faster than a regular human so she’d be four or five times faster than a zombie, and still she got killed. Should have worn something more practical.
Other than them pissing me off I really did like all of them. Zzap started as my favorite and would have been but being a big baby is unforgivable.
I ended up liking the girls the most, Cerberus being my favorite. I also really liked the younger woman that went scavenging (I can’t remember her name), I felt like she could be Robin to Stealth’s Batman. St. George also grew on me.