"Ex-Communication" Book Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Broadway Books
Written by Peter Clines
2013, 345 Pages, Fiction
Book released on July 9th, 2013
Things are finally starting to get to a bit of normalcy for the heroes of Los Angeles. No longer stuck within the boundaries of the Mount, the community has grown much larger thanks to the completion of the Big Wall, which surrounds several blocks of the city. This allows the survivors to live their lives without the worry of a sudden zombie attack. Of course, that still happens occasionally due to the possessing power of Legion, the closest thing the group has to a super villain. This is where Ex-Communication, the latest in Peter Clines' series of novels, picks up.
Legion is getting smarter. That's saying something considering the fact that he's kind of a moron. He has the power to possess any zombie within a certain radius, jumping from body to body as the undead fall. Instead of just rushing the walls, he's started to plan a bit more. He's outfitted the corpses with body armor and helmets. They have crude weapons. It makes for a tougher battle. Yet, this ends up being the least of the survivors' worries.
A major part of Ex-Communication is devoted to the return of a very minor character from Ex-Heroes, the first novel in the series. This hero was not even alive during the initial book. He was already a zombie and Clines had explained the backstory well enough to fill in the details. I didn't need anymore. As a result, the resurrection didn't mean anything to me. Super heroes come back to life all the time in the comics, so when it happened here it wasn't a big deal. The reaction of the other survivors is far more interesting though - specifically the regular humans. If the heroes can bring this guy back to life, why can't they bring others back? How do you explain to someone that you can resurrect your fellow hero but you can't do the same for their sister, brother, mother, father, etc? That's tough.
This aspect of the novel forces Ex-Communication to become the most comic-book-like of the series. Where Ex-Heroes and Ex-Patriots were more firmly grounded in the real world, despite the fact that it featured characters like Zzzap, a man made of electricity capable of powering the entire area within the Big Wall, the novels don't get too out there when it comes to the villains or the action. If you buy the premise, it's believable. Clines dives head first into some big funny book clichés, which expands the focus of the Ex series but also puts it into a new arena that it's not entirely ready to play in.
The Ex series was initially outlined as a trilogy, so at first Ex-Communication looks to tie up some loose ends that were left dangling. Unfortunately, some of those threads weren't loose to begin with; the aforementioned resurrected character being one of them. Other plot points that are picked up, such as the hero that caused the zombie outbreak to begin with, are tied up, in a very haphazard way. If the novel focused more on this hero instead of the one that was brought back to life, it would have been a far more interesting read, especially if they brought the man to trial as the heroes intended to do. Can you imagine putting a super hero on trial who was responsible for the deaths of most of the world's population? That would be brutal.
Ex-Communication is a solid addition to Peter Clines' series of novels, but it's one that relies heavily on the previous two books. Do not under any circumstances read this one first. The characters continue to grow and mature. St. George, the Superman-esque leader of the bunch, feels like a hero I've been following for years in comics. I would have liked a bit more time spent with Cerberus, especially after the amount of time she received in Ex-Patriots. This is really St. George's story, as he literally puts his life on the line in a big way. It just shows you how this character could easily stand toe-to-toe with members of the Justice League or the Avengers and he's never even appeared in a comic book.
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