Thursday, October 27, 2011

Book Review: Ex-Heroes

Wow, where does the time go? Already five days till Halloween!! And then we skip Thanksgiving and go straight to Christmas.

I have to admit, this is a recycled book review (with some revising), originally posted on Amazon, but it fits the mood of this season, zombies and superheroes -- oh yeah!

The set-up:  It's post-apoc LA where the undead outnumber the living, and only the superheroes manage to keep some sanity alive, protecting the remaining humans in a fortress. But of course there's gotta be super villains, right?

The ultimate highlight of Peter Clines' Ex-Heroes, for me, was the kick ass ending where the heroes duke it out with undead heroes (ex-heroes). There's at least three battles going on and all of them have you on the edge of your seat. You really can't stop reading when you get to the last 50 pages, which I love. And can I just say a much cooler ending that King's The Stand; I'm still disappointed that there was never big clash between good and evil in that book. 

But as much as I love intense action scenes, this book does has its flaws. Two of the heroes are basically knock-offs of more famous heroes:
Stealth = robot Batman
St. George/The Mighty Dragon = fire-breathing Superman

I would have appreciated a little more originality in those heroes, especially since we see them the most. I REALLY didn't like Stealth, though. I get it, she's got a mind like a computer, but does she have to be devoid of a personality and all morals? What's the difference between her and a villain? Perhaps she'll become a villain in the next book, that would be interesting. And if she doesn't like being objectified, why does she run around in a painted on body suit? You can't see her face but she'll show you her curves. *facepalm*

Then there's Zzzap. He is the most powerful of the superheroes and yet, he does the least of all them except be a battery for the community. Can you say 'lame'? I think the author realized at the end that Zzzap could take out all the zombie hordes and ex-heroes in 5 minutes tops, so he gave Zzzap the piss poor excuse that he didn't like burning up zombies (it felt icky). Now if Zzzap had been too busy fighting MidKnight (another ex-hero) that would have given us another cool battle, and nothing to complain about.

As you can see, the characterization was rather weak all around. We only get one chapter into each of these characters' lives, and as much as I appreciate not getting dumped with tons of backstory, we don't get to see enough of these characters' thoughts. This is where limited 3rd-person would have helped a lot in getting in touch with the characters as both superheroes and humans. Of course, to have done this, the book would had to have been twice as long, and as a debut novel, I know authors are hard pressed to make their books as skinny as possible because it's not cheap to print a book. So I'm not too sure if it's the author's lack of ability to create 3D characters, or that the editor was an idiot and cut out all the characterization.The 4-5 pages of advertisements (for other books) in the back of the book makes me wonder...

There are a few overused phrases, like Cerberus constantly saying "her arms ached for her cannons," which I think came up 3-4 times. Once again, a little variety doesn't hurt.

I also see this book becoming severely dated ten years from now. Clines' makes tons of references to movies and TV shows that are popular now, which makes sense since these characters are stuck in Hollywood. But who's going to recall half this stuff years from now? Or what about the younglings who haven't even heard about it? We may not even have TV in ten years! (I hope not, because cable prices are ridiculous)

Now, I originally gave this book 4 stars, but after some thought, I'd say 3 out of 5 stars is more appropriate. Three stars isn't necessarily bad, but I'll be honest, this is a popcorn novel. It's fun to read, and doesn't take long to get through, but it certainly isn't anything deep or thoughtful. I may get around to its sequel Ex-Patriots, though I've already bought a bunch of books, and don't feel like shelling out another ten bucks.  

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