Ex-Heroes (Ex-Heroes Series #1)

Ex-Heroes (Ex-Heroes Series #1)

by Peter Clines

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The first novel in Peter Clines' bestselling Ex series.

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. Billions died, civilization fell, and the city of angels was left a desolate zombie wasteland. 
Now, a year later, the Mighty Dragon and his companions protect a last few thousand survivors in their film-studio-turned-fortress, the Mount. Scarred and traumatized by the horrors they’ve endured, the heroes fight the armies of ravenous ex-humans at their citadel’s gates, lead teams out to scavenge for supplies—and struggle to be the symbols of strength and hope the survivors so desperately need.
But the hungry ex-humans aren’t the only threats the heroes face. Former allies, their powers and psyches hideously twisted, lurk in the city’s ruins. And just a few miles away, another group is slowly amassing power . . . led by an enemy with the most terrifying ability of all.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781934861387
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Publication date: 02/25/2010
Series: Ex-Heroes Series , #1
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 92,642
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

PETER CLINES has published several pieces of short fiction and countless articles on the film and television industry. He currently lives and writes somewhere in southern California. Ex-Heroes is his first novel.

What People are Saying About This

"I loved this pop culture-infused tale of shamed superheroes struggling to survive a zombie apocalypse in the ruins of Hollywood. It's The Avengers meets The Walking Dead with a large order of epic served on the side."
—Ernest Cline, New York Times bestselling author of Ready Player One
"Zombies? Check. Superheroes? Check. Awesome? Check. Ex-Heroes has it all. You’re in for a treat!"
—Mira Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Feed


A Conversation with Peter Clines

Author of EX-HEROES

You grew up in Stephen King territory in Maine, yes? Did that make you into a zombie fan at an early age?

Well, I was at the southern edges of Mr. King's fallout zone. It's a little town called Cape Neddick, a little tourist place on the coast, and someone told me once that the population was ten times bigger in the summer than in the winter. And to be honest, I was terrified of everything as a kid. Land of the Lost gave me nightmares. Heck, there was an episode of Fantasy Island that gave me nightmares. I was right there when King's career really exploded, but his books terrified me. I finally worked up my courage to read one of his short stories, “The Boogeyman,” when I was twelve or so, and to this day I can't sleep with the closet door open. The original Ghost Rider comics were my first tentative steps into horror, and even some of those freaked me out. My love of the genre really blossomed in college.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Well, to quote George Carlin, not in the womb, but right after that . . . yeah.
I can remember making scenes with my Star Wars figures and adjusting them all each night as their story progressed. In third grade I hand-wrote a “novel” that I called Lizard Men from the Center of the Earth, which was about . . . well, guess. Once I discovered my mom's old Smith-Corona typewriter it was all over. I spent all my free time writing comic books and some truly awful Boba Fett fan fiction before there was such a term. I even made some early attempts at novels. One of the great tragedies of American literature is that our garage flooded in high school and all of that was destroyed.
(It's not really a tragedy . . .)

It sounds like you were—no offense—kind of a comic geek when you were a kid?

When I was a kid, yeah. And a teenager. And a college student. To be honest, writing comic books was my big goal when I was little. My first rejection letters are from Jim Shooter—then Marvel's editor in chief—because I would send him some of those (in retrospect) really God-awful stories every other month. With cover art. This is back when I was maybe ten or eleven. He was amazingly polite to a stupid kid. On one level, Ex-Heroes was my chance to finally write the kind of heroes I grew up with.

Do you have a favorite superhero?

I'm a long-time Spider-Man fan. I started collecting The Amazing Spider-Man when I was about nine or ten and kept with it for years. I've got one of those big longboxes just filled with issues. I finally got so frustrated, though, with Marvel's big “Civil War” promotion, and especially how they resolved it. When Spider-Man made a deal with the devil to erase half his life, including his wife and best friend . . . well, I was done.

It sounds like you're not really interested in comics now, though. What do you think about mainstream comics these days?

Tough question. I am a bit disillusioned with the big two comic publishers. To be clear, I don't think there's a problem with using the medium of comics to tell more dramatic, adult-themed stories. The Sandman, The Walking Dead, Unknown Soldier—these are all fantastic stories by great writers. My problem is when this sort of storytelling gets pushed onto characters like Spider-Man or Superman or Captain America, because “dramatic” becomes shorthand for “really messed up.” I think it detracts from these classic characters to push them into molds they weren't meant to fill, and those stories tend to just come across as pointless melodrama. Characters have six-page soliloquies about the nature of heroism rather than just doing something heroic. I've seen people try to do “realistic” stories with the Hulk . . . a character who got his powers by standing next to a nuclear bomb when it went off. These elements can be a nice polish on a story, but there's also a point where they have no business being used. I don't think it's a coincidence that the industry has been struggling so much since this type of storytelling became the norm.

When you moved to California you ended up working in the film industry for almost fifteen years. What kind of work did you do there?

I was a property master—the person who deals with hand props—on a lot of television shows and movies. I worked on a lot of cult things like one of the Beastmaster movies, Veronica Mars, and a bunch of lesser-known stuff. I'm actually the murderer in Psycho Beach Party for most of the movie. I prop-mastered Helen Mirren's directorial debut, and she told me I looked like the type of person who should be sitting on the porch of a southern plantation writing novels.
Also, I was writing scripts on the side. People looked at some of my feature scripts and television episodes, and I made the final round in a bunch of screenplay contests. All this industry experience led to a job writing articles for Creative Screenwriting magazine, which I did for several years. I interviewed George Romero, Kevin Smith, Sylvester Stallone, Orci & Kurtzman, and dozens and dozens of other writers and directors.

So how did all of this come together to form Ex-Heroes?

Ex-Heroes was some random stuff I'd been thinking about for ages, and also kind of a response to a superhero-zombie miniseries I read. I started thinking about how I would've done the story, and that might've been the end of it, except a few months later my girlfriend and I got a place together. I unpacked some boxes I'd been lugging around and found a couple of sketchbooks filled with superheroes I'd made up as a kid. They were all standard comic book archetypes, and I realized if I updated and polished them a bit (and gender-swapped two or three of them), a lot of them would slot into that story I wanted to tell. So I ended up writing and rewriting this book between magazine interviews and reviews all that summer, usually nervous and worried because I was turning down assignments to work on a novel.
So that's where Ex-Heroes came from—born of nerd-rage, childhood creativity, and some blind panic.

Gender-swapped characters?

Yeah. Oddly enough, when I was eleven I didn't really see the point of female superheroes. Who'd want to see women in spandex beating up bad guys and being kick-ass? That's just silly, right? So in all those old sketches Cerberus was a man, Banzai was a man. So was Night Stalker, the character I renamed Stealth.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

I don't know. If I could actually pick? I guess we've all wanted to fly at one point or another. I remember being obsessed with super-speed at one point as a kid. Maybe teleportation. Yeah, I hate traffic, so teleportation would be fantastic.

Customer Reviews

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Ex-Heroes 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 138 reviews.
sortofstealth More than 1 year ago
Having spent the last few years reading mostly non-fiction, this was the best escape from reality that I have had in a long time. I found the characters as compelling and fascinating as I remember the X-Men being during the Claremont years. Superheroes and zombies have not been a big draw for me since my teen years, but I loved this book and could not put it down. The way the story unfolds is gripping. This book also broached a topic I am very interested in, how do people respond in the face of disaster. Clines handled this beautifully with the complexity of his characters conflicts. As soon as I finished reading the last page, I was ready to pick up the sequel. I hope there will be a sequel!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a really fun read. I recommend it along with the sequel Ex-Patriots which I'm currently reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a fan of the zombie genre and this novel adds a nice new twist. I was a little skeptical at first but quickly changed my mind as Clines developed the characters and their assorted histories. You might think the super hero factor seems out of place but I was amazed at how well the two genres blended together to form a cohesive story. I would definitely recommend reading this novel.
Cheese74 More than 1 year ago
Skeptical before I read, but now I am a believer. Great twist on the zombie genre that might be getting a bit over played.
brennells More than 1 year ago
Thoroughly entertaining, this is a light read with some entertaining twists on the superhero genre.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have been out of the reading routine for far too long, and I am so glad I picked this title by Peter Clines to make my return to reading again. I absolutely loved this book. For me, it has everything in a book that I like. Heroism, zombies, post-apocalyptic setting, and even a hint of romance. I recommend this title to anyone remotely interested in SF/Fantasy. An easy read that I found exremely hard to put down. Can't wait to read the sequel!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Normally the whole zombie thing is not something that interests me. This is my first book about zombies to be honest. When I saw it was about super heroes and zombies my interest was peaked, and by no means did this book disappoint. If you like super heroes, zombies, and/or both this is a great book. Characters felt real, back stories were great and no useless bs to bog down the story. Only complaint I it is to short.
cmwilson101 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines is a surprisingly good post-apocalyptic novel. Surprising, because the plot in essence is superheroes v. zombies, which quite honestly sounds too comic-booky to be a good story. However, the author does a beautiful job of making the story & characters plausible. The superheroes are all normal people who have changed genetically in some way, but they retain their essential humanness; certainly, they have human failings, desires, convictions, and emotions. The bulk of them have dedicated their lives to helping out normal humans, and when a plague causes things to go horribly wrong, the superheroes lay their lives on the line to protect what's left of the human race. The bulk of the story occurs after the US has fallen to the zombies, with the back story occurring in the form of "then" chapters interspersed within the "now" chapters. The superheroes have created a safe zone for the humans in an old movie studio in LA, but their survival is threatened by another group of humans, led by gang members, who want the heroes resources. The story moves quickly, the action is snappy, and the heroes are fleshed out as the story progresses -- they become more likeable as they become more complex. All in all, a very good, entertaining read. I am looking forward to the sequel.
peterdarbyshire on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A small band of superheroes try to save the last of humanity from the zombie apocalypse by holing up in the former Paramount film studios -- only to face an even worse threat from a Mexican street gang who wants their territory. So can I buy my ticket for the film adaptation now?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Zombies are everywhere. Super powers. Yes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I cannot praise this series enough. It has riveting characters, excellent writing, and a compelling and original premise. Read this. You'll love it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good story overall! am going to order the next in the series as well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So I bought this book like two years ago and it just sat on my shelf. After I finished my last book, and didnt want to go to the store to get a new one, I snagged this one and sat on the pot. Two hours later my wife was telling at me to get off and I realized I was hooked. The writing style is great and the story is pretty in depth. I'm on book two now and I can honestly say I love this series. It can be pretty cliche but, it takes the best of current pop culture trends, comic books and a realistic view of an apocalypse mindset and merges it into the ex-series
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought I would love this story. There were parts I really enjoyed but I feel as though there was not enough. I wish Peter Clines would have done a book building the world with the super heroes first or gave more time in this book to the back story. I connected with the characters but I want to know more about them. Only a few of the heroes actually describes the cause of his abilities. That being said I am excited to read more into the world and see what happens.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had so many people recommend this book to me I decided to give it a try. Zombie books are not my usual taste, but everyone said this was a good zombie book. Sorry I found it to be dribble, 100 pages in and I had to give up and find something better written and more interesting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You like zombies? You like super heroes? Mash up! A lot of post said this was boring but I found it thoroughly enjoyable. Let's face it the dystopian zombie genre has been lame and boring for a while. This book really brought the genre alive again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Drewano More than 1 year ago
An interesting take on the current zombie craze. Not only are there zombies, but there are super heroes in our world, and they’re working to help keep the world alive. The book probably falls into a more guilty pleasure type since there really isn’t much character development just a lot of fun zombie action. The author jumps back and forth from before the outbreak to the current post apocalypse time. By doing this he gives a good back story on each of the heroes and how the current predicament came to be. The story’s fun and interesting with enough action to really make it a good ride.
Breadboy22 More than 1 year ago
I love superheroes, who doesn't? But write a book on how they would deal with the threat of a zombie apocalypse and you have a fun, exciting, nerdy read. The author has great character backgrounds and gives each hero their own unique personality. A great sci-fi read