And finally the last books of 2020, making the total count 40 (I really should've found a better use for all my free time).
Continuing this year's theme of digging up old books I haven't read in a while, I pulled out the Ex-Heroes series by Peter Clines (surprisingly I didn't have to dig that far). If there's one book series I want to suggest to everyone to read it's The Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks, but if there's one book series that I can recommend that people might actually read it's this one as, like the back of one of them says, "It's The Avengers meets The Walking Dead" and who doesn't love those things.
Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines
After the ex-virus decimates the US population causing a zombie apocalypse, St. George, Stealth, and other emerging superheroes are left to care for the survivors of Los Angeles. Holing themselves up on the Paramount Studios lot, the superheroes try to keep the peace within their walls as well as going out on scavenging runs amongst the horde of zombies. They are just trying to survive as millions of the undead stand at their gates. What they don't know is the world outside has changed and a new supervillain is looking to not only take their territory but also for revenge against one of the superheroes' own.
Ex-Heroes is your standard superhero story with the twist that a zombie apocalypse has struck and wiped out most of humanity already. It raises the stakes in that the people they are protecting are almost all that is left. The story jumps back and forth to give more insight into who these heroes are and what they are capable of. This first book is the standard Heroes vs Villain storyline with the climax being the assault on The Mount by the Big Bad. In regards to book recommendations this is one that I'd recommend to anyone who is a fan of superheros stories and is looking for something relatively easy to read (I think I breezed through it in about a week, week and a half). The heroes are the standard set people are used to seeing in superhero teams though with Clines own twist on their names and powers. The story itself has everything you'd expect from a superhero story (superpowers, funny one-liners, etc) as well as from a horror zombie story (gruesome descriptions, people being bitten, the constant fear).
Ex-Patriots by Peter Clines
St. George, Stealth, and the other superheroes are getting back into their regular routine after an attack on their home by a supervillain. Mysteriously, a drone flies overhead, a drone piloted by the US military. The military base in Yuma promises the survivors a wealth of resources and security as well as several enhanced super-soldiers designed to take on St. George himself. However, the superheroes discover things are not quite what they appear. They'll need to take on a practically invisible enemy as well as an old nemesis from the past to get home.
Ex-Patriots plays on the hidden-villain storyline, usually the Big Bad being smart and savvy and hiding themselves since they aren't able to physically go toe-to-toe with the hero in a standard fight. Like the previous book, this one also jumps to the past, this time to give backstories on a couple of the individual super-soldiers as well as other people still alive on the base.
Ex-Communication by Peter Clines
After the events of the last book, things are starting to settle back down on The Mount. As much as possible, anyways with hordes of ex-humans still at their gates and Legion setting them into coordinated attacks as well. That is, until Zzzap finally explains the voice he's been communicating with is the ghost of Maxwell Hale, also known as the magician superhero, Cairax. With Zzzap's help, Hale manages to reincarnate but brings with him a new threat to The Mount, the demon Cairax Murgen, the same demon that Hale would possess with his own consciousness when he transformed into a superhero. Now the superheros must figure out how to exorcise the demon back to hell before he possess one of the strongest heroes of The Mount and kills everyone.
It's inevitable, but eventually most stories that pit good vs evil will get to the ultimate Good vs Evil showdown and introduce God or Satan or Heaven or Hell. This one goes into Hale's power and the demon he possessed to do good for the city.
Ex- Purgatory by Peter Clines
George Bailey is a normal, everyday college groundskeeper. In his dreams though, he can fly and is extremely strong, and the world is filled with monsters. But those are just dreams. Until he meets a girl that tells him that the real world is the dream and he really is a superhero fighting against monsters to save the people of Los Angeles. As his dreams start to invade his world as visions, he sets out to find the other heroes to awaken them from their perfect nightmare.
I'm not a big fan of the "everything was a dream" type stories. Personally, my least favorite type of stories because they 90% of the time end with the characters just waking up back in the real world with no real consequence as everything that happened so far didn't really happen. I remembered when I finished the previous book, I thought "ugh, maybe I can skip this one." Out of the 5 books, it's my least favorite but I do have to say that I didn't hate it as much as I thought I would having to reread it again.
Ex-Isle by Peter Clines
The superheroes discover a group of survivors floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, a floating island made of ships and vessels chained together. At the same time, a fire rips through part of The Mount and destroys a large portion of their crops. The group decides to split up: St. George, Zzzap and Corpse Girl will investigate the new group of survivors, and The Cerberus Team (Danielle/Cerberus, The Driver, and Gibbs) as well as some of the Unbreakable super-soldiers head to secure The Mount's new farmland. St. George's team find another superhero ruling over the survivors, brainwashed into believing the rest of the world is dead. At Eden, Danielle suspects the Unbreakables might be leading a coup to establish their own colony.
So far, the last of Clines' Ex-Heroes series books (I really, really hope he'll write more). Along with the great superhero action and creepy zombie horror found in the rest of the series, this book also explores the nature of leadership. Who should be in charge in a crisis, how should a leader hold power, what makes an effective leader, etc. Not only does St. George discover a hero that rules his people through fear because they've got no where else to go, but the story also jumps back into the early days of the zombie apocalypse to look at other characters and how they've either established or held on to their power and authority.
I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell by Tucker Max The Art of Living Other People's Lives by Greg Dybec
As the year came to an end and after rereading a bunch of old series this year (and after such a strange, and somewhat harried ending, year), I thought I'd end the year with something funny. So, I dug under my bed for I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell by Tucker Max. If you don't know, this book as well as his other two (Assholes Finish First and Hilarity Ensues) are Max's hilarious stories of drunken nights, picking up women, and other dumb shit people do in their twenties. I probably hadn't read it or any of his other books in many, many years but it seemed like a no-brainer that if I was looking for something funny, this was that book. Instead, I got through three or four stories into the book and it just wasn't the same. The crazy, insane stories just didn't hit me the way that I remember. I'm not saying I don't find the stories funny anymore, they're just not as hilarious as I remember. I would find myself smirking at stories I remember before needing to stifle a laugh or risk looking like a crazy person. It's the weirdest thing because it's not as if I've grown up a whole lot after all these years (at least I don't think so). I still love drunkenly reliving memories of other drunken nights when I'm hanging out with friends, so why should reading about someone else's drunken nights be any different?
Anyways, so I put the book back and went looking for something else. I ended up with The Art of Living Other People's Lives because I remember it not only being funny (what's funnier than finally catching a mouse in your apartment by getting it high?), but also relatable as Dybec recounts trying to fake his way as an underwear critic to secure a job; eavesdropping on strangers for story ideas and finding much more; and watching his grandparents get older. If this book sounds familiar, I know I read it before and I probably wrote a review of it a long time ago. It was a good book to end 2020 with, not just because it provided laughs to a year that really needed them, but also to remind me that there are people out there that understand, and you're not the only one out there going through theses struggles.