Superheroes and zombie novels appeal to the fourteen-year-old boy in me, and when I read one, I am usually disappointed because I am no longer a fourteen-year-old boy. Ex-Heroes
is the ultimate superheroes+zombies mashup, with the Earth's surviving superheroes (okay, Los Angeles's surviving superheroes) protecting what remains of the living human population from the undead hordes after the zombie apocalypse.
This very "high concept" premise makes for a fun story that would make a pretty entertaining comic series, and Clines delivers plenty of gonzo superheroic action combined with gonzo zombie gore. You can really see he is trying to describe multi-panel superhero slugfests and gut-ripping zombie action in full four-color spectacle just as it would appear on the pages of a comic book, which is why the fight scenes are prolonged and detailed and full of roars and screams and sound effects and people getting knocked through walls and blasted about, interspersed with hero/villain banter and the occasional monologue. So Clines has the feel of the genre for sure.
But that's all this book is: a novelized comic book. The characters are interesting insofar as we get flashbacks to their origins, a description of their powers and major personality quirks, and then their current doings in post-zombie-apocalypse LA, but no one really comes alive as more than a comic book illustration accompanied by a list of vitals. Cerberus is the chick in the mecha suit, Stealth is the emotionally detached mastermind who dresses in leather lingerie, Gorgon is the guy whose underage girlfriend got zombified and now he is muchly angsted, the Mighty Dragon is Superman with fire-breath, etc. The Big Bad, when he finally appears, is only mildly threatening since we're pretty much told he's an idiot, which means he'll rack up a few casualties and then be defeated.
Clines delivers servicable action, but his writing is not great and his characterization is about par for a comic book. This is a fun but eminently forgettable romp, though I might listen to book two the next time I need some entertainment only slightly less mindless than a zombie movie.