I’m an easy target for some publishers. Zombie novel? Yes, please. Superheroes fiction? Where’s my debit card?
Wait… what did you say? Zombies AND superheroes? Are you kidding me? Novels, not comic books? I mean don’t get me wrong… Marvel Zombies is a favorite of mine and always will be, but some of those stories seemed to take forever to unfold, waiting month to month for the next issue. But now Broadway (Random House) has released the latest novel in Peter Clines’ EX-series that started with EX-Heroes, and it’s over 400 pages! Yep, if you enjoyed EX-Heroes, you are going to absolutely LOVE EX-Patriots. I read it in two days and now I can’t believe I’ve got to wait again for EX-Communication. Argh.
Not familiar with EX-Heroes? I envy you. You can read it and enjoy all the surprises and twists for the very first time. Because I’m not going to ruin it for you, I promise. No hints or spoilers if you stop reading now. Well, no hints or spoilers beyond what you can probably guess from the back cover blurb — a zombie-filled planet that also just happens to have some superheroes that survived and are fighting for survival along with a very small group of non-superhero survivors. So, stop reading right now if you don’t want any advanced knowledge.
Still with me? Okay, here’s EX-Heroes in a nutshell. Superheroes are rare to begin with, okay? There’s just not that many of them. The world has fallen apart as the zombies (called EXes, as in EX-human, EX-living… you get the picture) have grown in numbers. Not much is known about the rest of the world, but a small group of non-superheroes have managed to hole up in Los Angeles inside a movie studio. Watching over them are a small number of superheroes with names like St. George, Stealth, Cerberus, Zzzap and Gorgon. As you might imagine, there’s some animosity between heroes and the regular folks — the normals are more susceptible to the bites of the EXes than the heroes, and they’re always a bit nervous that the heroes will just up and leave them. Not only are the superheroes having to deal with the humans they are protecting, but they’re also having to deal with the Seventeens, a huge LA gang that has also survived and is growing in numbers. The Seventeens know about the movie studio that is protected by high walls and gates, and they want in to take what they can get of the food, medical supplies, and other items. To tell you anymore would venture into dangerous major spoiler territory, so just be aware that there are a couple BIG secrets lurking and preparing to pounce before you finish EX-Heroes.
As for EX-Patriots, well, if you haven’t finished EX-Heroes, stop reading now. Once again, I’ll try and avoid spoilers, but the events in EX-Heroes lead directly into EX-Patriots.
EX-Patriots finds the superheroes (that survived the battle against the Seventeens and their super-powerful leader, Peasy) once again roaming LA with the non-heroes, scavenging what they can and trying to fortify their positions. Their numbers have grown quite a bit, too, and the non-hero humans are still worried the heroes may up and leave at any moment. Tensions get higher when the US Army shows up with helicopters and requests that some of the heroes return with them to a base in Arizona. The US Army hasn’t been sitting still while the EXes have increased in number… they’ve been doing experiments and creating their own super-soldiers. And as Zzzap likes to remind his fellow superheroes, in the movies the military is always a bit crazy when an apocalypse rolls around. Strange things are going on at the military base, and some of the LA superheroes must make a decision about who they will serve, the US Army or the people back in LA they’ve chosen to protect. Once again, there are some big secrets revealed in this book, and to tell you much more would risk ruining the surprises.
Peter Clines has done superheroes versus zombies right. In this world, the superheroes are rare. There’s just not enough of them to solve the EX problem on their own. And many of the superheroes are just as vulnerable to an EX’s bite as a regular human. There’s an even smaller number of heroes who are truly invulnerable, so keep that in mind when the heroes find themselves surrounded on all sides. You’ll discover you have favorite heroes, and that’s okay… just as with the comic books, readers are likely to gravitate to one or two particular heroes.
If you’ve got questions early in either book, just be patient… most questions will be answered. I particularly enjoyed Clines’ explanation for the zombie apocalypse in EX-Heroes — its origin story. Did. Not. See. It. Coming. Thank you, Mr. Clines, for a superb and well thought out origin.
(Of course, I have one BIG nagging question that still hasn’t been answered and I’ll ask it here — Why did superheroes all of a sudden just appear around 2008 and not earlier? Something must have happened to trigger this, but I’ve yet to discover an answer… maybe it’ll come in a future book.)
These are great stories. I simply cannot wait for EX-Communication (scheduled for a July 2013 release) to see where the next story takes this group of survivors. If you’re a zombie novel fan… you’ll really enjoy these books. If you’re a superhero fan… there are some really original and fantastic heroes here.
As I said, I enjoy the Marvel Zombies comics, but the stories told in the EX-series of novels are so much more believable (if that can be said of superhero-zombie crossover stories).
And you don’t have to wait another 30 days for the next chapter.
Two things before I wrap this up — first, we’ve got a giveaway. Broadway is giving away two copies of EX-Patriots to two lucky commenters. Leave a comment and tell us which celebrity zombie do you think would be the toughest to take down and why? (This is a very relevant question in the EX-series!) Two random winners (USA only — sorry, international readers) will be selected on Saturday, April 27th — get your response in by Friday, April 26th, 11:59pm PDT. Winners will be notified via email.
Second, I’ve got an excerpt from EX-Patriots. You can download and read it by clicking on this link. Be aware that it does have a minor spoiler or two — it’s actually Chapter 6 in the new book, so it’s not too far in to ruin the Big Surprises.
Note: I’d like to thank Lauren K. at Random House for providing the two giveaway copies as well as the excerpt.