Broadway Books, 2016, 389 pages
The spectacular fifth adventure in the genre-busting Ex-Heroes series.
The heroes are overjoyed when they discover another group of survivors living on a manmade island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. But there's something very, very wrong with this isolated community and its mysterious leader - a secret that could put every survivor in the world at risk.
Peter Clines "Ex-Heroes" series has remained consistently entertaining popcorn genre fiction, full of in-jokes, pop culture references, and every superhero/zombie trope Clines can fit into the story.
Ex-Isle is the fifth book in this series about a handful of superheroes defending a small community of survivors in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. It's like The Walking Dead if it were a MCU movie. The heroes have built a fortified enclave in what used to be Hollywood, in previous books they integrated ex-gang members and a squad of super-soldiers (led by "Captain Freedom"), and now they encounter another band of survivors defended by their own superhero.
The new group is living on a floating island in the Pacific, made of ships all connected together. They are discovered by Zap, the genre-savvy super-nerd who can turn himself into energy and fly around the world. On a scouting mission, Zap finds the floating artificial island, and back home, they decide to send him, Saint George (formally The Mighty Dragon), and "Corpse Girl" (a teenager who thinks she's a constantly reanimating undead whose power keeps her from turning into a proper zombie, but who is in fact actually an android reconstructed every morning by nanobots) to make contact with the new group.
The oceanic survivors are protected by a superhero named Nautilus, who is kind of a Sub-Mariner type, complete with grandiose ego. Our heroes of course discover secrets and nefarious doings, there is an obligatory fight with Nautilus, and you know the good guys always lose the first fight in a comic book, before the rematch.
Back in Hollywood, there is some interpersonal drama as the former gang-bangers believe they are being treated as second-class citizens in the new community the heroes are trying to build. Danielle, builder of the "Cerberus" mecha suit, is dealing with PTSD, and a relationship with a guy who can animate her suit (and thus threatens to replace her). And something is up with the Unbreakables, the super-soldiers who are supposedly there to help defend the community.
After reading the last book, I thought this series was treading water a bit. I think this installment was actually a little better. It expands the world a bit (and adds to the cast), though it doesn't really change the status quo much. I don't know if Clines has a big finale planned, or if, like a comic book series, he will just keep pumping out installments as long as he can. So far it hasn't gotten stale, and I'm on board for the next one.
Also by Peter Clines: My reviews of Ex-Heroes, Ex-Patriots, Ex-Communication, Ex-Purgatory, 14, The Fold, and Paradox Bound.
My complete list of book reviews.