Ex-Patriots


by Peter Clines

Review by Nu Yang


This is the second book of a series being marketed as “The Avengers meets The Walking Dead.” Having read the first book by Peter Clines, Ex-Heroes, I felt the story picked up nicely. It had good story continuity and if you didn't read the first book, I think you can still follow and catch-on easily.

Saying that, zombies or “exes” (as in ex-humans) are still roaming around Los Angeles. The superheroes and the human survivors are still barricaded behind the Mount, but soon, a new group is introduced into the realm: a U.S. Army battalion. The superheroes and the rest of the survivors are more than happy to bring them into the fold, hoping to strengthen their numbers, but then we learn this battalion also holds super-soldiers.
   
I was worried that Clines might have written himself into a hole. How can you keep a zombie sequel fresh (no pun intended)? Also, I remember TV viewers complaining during the second season of  The Walking Dead that the characters had been stuck on the farm for too long. In other words, keep the characters moving, change the environment, don't let the reader get bored.    
   
By introducing the super-soldiers, Clines brought in a new storyline. Here, we have superheroes teamed up with super-soldiers. Pretty cool. We also have a new character named Captain Freedom, which I enjoyed, but I felt Clines threaded too closely to Captain America.
   
The new characters also bring in new conflict. One thing I learned from anything related to zombie apocalypses—don't ever trust the government, especially the army! Of course, these new “allies” hold their own—especially when it comes to these super-soldiers and what happens to them when they become exes. I don't want to spoil the book, but I liked the twist and the reveal. Again, Clines brought something new and different to the table and made it work.
   
Like the first book, Clines relies on flashbacks to tell backstory. I'm still not a fan of how he goes back THEN (in first person) to NOW (third person), but it looks like Clines is sticking to this format for the series.
   
I like the new characters, but John Smith (yes, that's his name) from Homeland Security came off too much like Agent Smith from The Matrix movies (same name and persona). I wish Clines would have played around with him some more, make him more unique (starting with a more memorable name) and not write him like a typical run-of-the-mill shady character.
   
The female superheroes play a bigger role in this story and it's always refreshing to see that in this genre. Even the cover has a female superhero (I believe it's Danielle in her Cerberus armor—think Iron Man).
   
Another thing I noted this time around is that Clines seems to be playing with the term “Ex” as seen in the titles (the next book is Ex-Communication). That’s kind of interesting since that is what he calls the zombies in his series.
   
So, if you're looking for some crossover action, I recommend checking out this series. It was fun and entertaining. Clines' background in television and film really comes through in his writing.