Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines

Fantastic, pulpy action. I mean, it’s zombies vs superheroes, how could I not read this?

The writing is sharp and moves along at a good clip, with a cinematic feel. Clines' use of flashbacks lets him bounce back and forth across the zombie apocalypse divide, deepening the characters and the world without slowing the action.

Three things about writing I learned from this one:

  • Even in an ensemble book, focus on no more than half a dozen characters. I couldn't tell the non-superheroes apart in this one, and gave up trying to keep track of them all. The heroes were all well-fleshed out, but the regular humans were extras, and who watches a movie for the extras?
  • Using flashbacks in short, quick bursts can let you jump in to the interesting part of the story immediately, building and keeping momentum behind the main storyline. Clines could have used the first third of the book to work through each heroes' timeline before the zombie apocalypse happened, but it would have resulted in a much slower book.
  • Don't be afraid of writing what you want to write. I'm sure there are plenty of people that would look down on the zombies + superheroes concept, but I'm glad Clines ignored all of them and wrote something this fun and entertaining.
Ron Toland @mindbat