Fans of Peter Clines’ Superheroes vs. Zombies series of novels are undoubtedly walking around with grins on their faces right now The fifth book in the series, Ex-Isle, was released on February 2nd and it delivers exactly what fans of the series have come to expect: zombies galore, survivors pushed to the brink, superheroes striving to protect the remaining human population as best they can, and tension… pure tension… in every chapter.
The survivors are still holed up in the The Mount, an abandoned movie studio, but they’ve managed to expand their territory a little bit by coordinating with the superheroes to clear areas and build up fences. They’ve even managed to get a fragile garden going that’s separate from The Mount–food is a priority, and this endeavor has huge potential for providing a steady source of food to the survivors. But, as always, every area that survivors find themselves in seems to find itself under constant attack by the ex’s (zombies) that fill the city streets. There are two major storylines going on in this new book, and this is one of them… and it has some major revelations in store for the surviving super-soldiers who have joined the superheroes in Los Angeles.
The second storyline involves the discovery of a floating island made of a variety of ships that have been pulled together out in the middle of the Pacific. When a small group of superheroes attempt communication, they discover they are unwelcome… and actually treated as enemies in many ways. They have a mysterious leader who has convinced the survivors that the rest of the world has been destroyed and that these superheroes have arrived with a hidden agenda.
Clines continues to branch out and offer up bits and pieces about what has become of the world outside of Los Angeles, and this new installment makes it quite clear that the zombie outbreak hasn’t weakened despite the actions of the superheroes. Feel-good endings aren’t a mainstay of the Ex series, so don’t get comfortable thinking Clines is going to offer up a nice little happy wrap-up. This series is about survival and loss, and in a world filled with the undead, all that survivors can do is deal with problem after problem and keep fighting.
Ex-Isle deals some new challenges to the heroes and normal citizens they are doing their best to protect. What I like best about the series is that superheroes are not always the saviors. They might have powers, but they are survivors and must deal with the complete loss of civilization, too. Clines has ratcheted up the tension with Book 5, and I can only wonder what he might have in mind for the survivors next. Whatever it is, readers can be reasonably certain that the survivors’ numbers will continue to shrink and that while The Mount is keeping out the ex’s for now, that’s no guarantee that the fences will hold tomorrow.
Note: Ex-Isle is out now. I was provided a review copy by Broadway Books.