Ex-Patriots by Peter Clines
Read by Jay Snyder with Mark Boyett, Kristine Hvam and Elizabeth Rodgers
Genre: Zombie Apocalypse
Quick Thoughts: This highly satisfying sequel to Ex Heroes plays out like a Graphic Novel in your head, with highly visual action and some cool new characters.
Ex-Patriots is the sequel to the zombie vs. superhero apocalyptic novel Ex-Heroes. I like zombie apocalyptic sequels, particularly for planned series. If the author follows the formula of zombie series, the first novel tends to be a more intimate tale, surrounding a select group of survivors, and how they managed to survive and live in a world overrun by the undead. With the basics set up, and the characters established, the second novel in a zombie series gets to do something I always love, expand the world. Sure, you could leave the same survivors in the same locale basically fighting the same scourge, perhaps in greater numbers, but what’s the fun in that. We want to see what’s happened to the country, whether there is a government struggling to maintain order. And we want new bad guys. Whether they be some crazy religious cult or a gang of bandits, we want some new human threat to add to the zombie plague. Sure, we want interesting new twists on the zombie mythos, but, we also want a bit of that old formula for us to grab onto. Peter Clines knows this. Peter Clines has a strong grasp on the pop culture of the zombie apocalypse. So, of course, ex-Patriots gives us what we want, shadowy government figures, enhanced super soldiers, and the greatest of all apocalyptic enemies, the power hungry military establishment. Yep, this should be all sorts of fun.
Again, Peter Clines has created a highly visual zombie apocalypse novel that reads like a Graphic novel, except that your brain is the artist. He adds a cool new hero, a surprisingly frightening new nemesis and mixes in some dire straights in this satisfying sequel to Ex-heroes. Clines revisits the formula from ex-Heroes of slowly developing his new characters by jumping from past to present so we often see the consequences before understanding the reasons behind how the characters got to where they were. This plays out well over the course of the novel offering twists and surprises so that even the most perceptive readers will find themselves caught off guard, Clines uses the old apocalyptic nemesis of a rogue military unit in a new and interesting way, which makes the novel have a comfortable feel without becoming overly predictable. Add to all this his crisp, well plotted action scenes and listeners should have a lot of fun with this latest edition Cline’s Ex series.
Ex-Patriots uses the narration style of its predecessor, with multiple narrators handling different character POV, and two women narrators handling the female dialogue. This gives Ex-Patriots an almost Graphic Audio feel without the annoying sound effects. Personally, I am always skeptical of this approach. I believe adding in female dialogue into male narrated POV’s often leads to bland characterizations. Narrators need material to help build characters, and I think it’s a struggle for them to truly embrace and differentiate characters when only doing snippets of dialogue. Kristine Hvam does a good job and is helped by the fact that she worked on the previous novel, but you do feel some level of disconnect from the characters. Yet, the process works with this novel do to it’s almost comic book, visual feel. Any loss of female characterization is made up by the crisp reading of action scenes, and the excellent job on the male voices in their POV. I think this is a good narrating team, and only hope that Hvam is given more of a role in future audio versions, because her voice is fantastic and she does a good job with the material given. Jay Snyder is also excellent, using his "meanwhile at the Hall of Justice" voice perfectly. The whole production is well cast and an extremely fun listen for all fans of superheroes and zombies.