Peter Clines brings us the latest installment of his Ex series in Ex-Purgatory. With a thrilling setting of post apocalypse Los Angeles, Clines brings to life a world full of geek mashups- most notably mixing zombies with The Matrix. Clines delivers an interesting read with a quest that is unexpected.
When he’s awake, George Bailey is just an ordinary man. Five days a week he coaxes his old Hyundai to life, curses the Los Angeles traffic, and clocks in at his job as a handyman at the local college.
But when he sleeps, George dreams of something more.
George dreams of flying. He dreams of fighting monsters. He dreams of a man made of pure lightning, an armored robot, a giant in an army uniform, a beautiful woman who moves like a ninja.
Then one day as he’s walking from one fix-it job to the next, a pale girl in a wheelchair tells George of another world, one in which civilization fell to a plague that animates the dead…and in which George is no longer a glorified janitor, but one of humanity’s last heroes.
Her tale sounds like madness, of course. But as George’s dreams and his waking life begin bleeding together, he starts to wonder—which is the real world, and which is just fantasy?
I must preface my entire review with noting that it somehow evaded me that this was the fourth installment of a series until writing this review. So as you can imagine, I was initially approaching this review with ‘why is the middle so confusing’. I think much of my indifference with Ex-Purgatory came from the fact that I felt as if I had no idea what was going on. Despite this, I enjoyed the trapped superhero plot.
Due to my lack of reference, I really could not get into the book as a whole or more specifically the characters. I thought it was nice how Clines played with stereotypes, sometimes breaking them and others emphasizing them. This was true in the supermodel, who was stealthy and intelligent, named Karen Quilt and the janitor who was stronger than he looked.
Pushing aside all of the confusion, I did find some great touches such as no one knowing the word zombie, and a time stop which manifests itself in outdated cars and phones. Ok, I was extra excited because the outdated phone happened to be Android. In the end, these small touches couldn’t do enough to make me like the book but I wonder if much of it was simply due to lack of context. At no point did I find myself invested in the characters or the storyline but still, I can neither recommend nor speak negatively about this book. Instead, I was just left thinking I would like it if I had more background information. My one suggestion is simply don’t read Ex-Purgatory if, like I, you have not read any of the others in the series.