Alright, technically I could be doing a movie review about “Despicable Me 2”, since I saw that last weekend, but it really boils down to “cute! Funny! Watch it!”, which isn’t useful. Instead, I have decided to review the book I read today (released today…ish, time zones and all) called Ex-Communication
Ex-Communication is the third in a series that began with the book Ex-Heroes and continued with Ex-Patriots by Peter Clines. As a nerdy comic fan myself, I adore these books. The basic premise is that the world has fallen to the “ex-virus”, or zombies. Instead of calling them zombies, most people call them “ex-humans” or “exes” for short. Easier on the psyche I guess.
You start Ex-Heroes with an understanding that over the past few years, superheroes have started to rise in the world. Our primary narrator being one of those: George, known as the Mighty Dragon. He is based in Los Angeles, and thanks to George and other heroes like him, they’ve managed to create a survivor community inside of the Mount, or what was once Paramount Studios. (There’s lots of really good reasoning behind this, not the least of which is walls, lots of space, and tons of random usable junk.)
By book three, exes are still going strong, but no one is surprised at that. The general figure is that it will take at least a generation to clear things out. Controlled deaths in case someone has spread the virus inside quarters, etc. Book three takes place roughly 3 years after the infection got passed manageable levels and they entered the Mount. People are starting to settle some, which of course leads to people becoming more … ah, like people and not “stick together to survive”.
One of the things I like best about these books (besides the fact that they’re superhero, zombie books!) is that Clines is so clever with the naming. They never have only one meaning. At first glance Ex-Heroes might stand for people who were, but are not now heroes, and there are those. It also stands for exes who were heroes and who are now a part of the great hoard of the undead.
Ex-Patriots carries the double meaning of some new characters from the US military, and the fact that the survivors are (as I am now… but without the zombies or cool powers) an expatriot. An Expat. An American who is no longer in America. Clever, and somewhat moving.
Ex-Communication sticks with that, the title have multiple meanings including not being able to communication (a simple one) and catholic stuff (which was my first thought). Love this.
Clines’ writing is pretty simple, not verbose, not embellished, but then his characters and situations don’t need it. They need imagery enough to paint a picture of what you might see if you were reading a comic book, but not anything that would force you to think about the words over the story. Shakespeare it is not … well, except for the sexy jokes. That’s very Shakespeare!
Outside of George, who is sort of your Superman figure and very White Knight, Clines’ characters are pretty complex. He highlights no less than six characters in every book, but you don’t feel like you’ve been given too much or told too little. It’s not just the superheroes (or villains) either, the “ordinary” people are given a good amount of thought, even though they’re never standing as primary narrator (mmm, except maybe twice … I’m not sure if they count).
The setting, of course, Los Angeles, home to Hollywood, is very interesting. It’s sort of a city everyone knows (not everyone everyone, but you get my point). But it’s also spread out. If you’ve read World War Z, you’ll know something about the “urban warfare” they’re forced to do in cities. That’s still true in LA, but there’s a bit of space in a lot of neighborhoods because the congestion’s not as bad as it would be in NYC or London or Tokyo (to mention other well-known cities). It’s also got the miniature walled in worlds, the studios, something you wouldn’t find in any large sprawling cities like Dallas, Houston, etc. So the setting is both well-known, and very fitting. Provides a huge number of zombies (how many millions of people live in the LA area?), but gives our survivors a fighting chance.
Okay, so I haven’t done much of a review of the individual book, but that’s because I don’t want to give much away! I start sharing too much about Ex-C and then EX-H and P won’t hold any surprises, and I’d really like a few more people to pick these books up. They’re not world shattering literature that will change the novel as a medium or anything, but they are lots of fun.
Give ’em a shot, is where I’m going with this.