On a very rare occasion a book and the perfect reader connect. This is one of those books.
Yes. Yes yes yes. This book succeeds in every way The Road failed for me. Set in Colorado after disease has wiped out most of the population, Hig has learned how to keep a small bit of his humanity while reluctantly doing what it takes to survive. Others aren't so reluctant, including Bangley, with whom he's formed an uneasy partnership.
The story hooks you from the beginning and builds nicely to the end, and Heller does a great job of developing characters you really care about. Then there's Jasper, Hig's beloved old dog, who made me come home and hug Garth every day after listening on my commute. I was, at the end, amazed how much I cared about these people (and dogs) and the bonds they formed. The writing is superb. About the only negative I can think of is the writing style Heller uses: Somewhat fragmented, perhaps the way inner dialog streams through our protagonist’s head. I barely noticed it while listening, but did see some reviews that a few readers were somewhat frustrated by it in the beginning, but after they stuck with it for a while it flowed naturally and worked well.
Things for my own remembrance follow.
(On constellations): I name one for a scrappy, fish-loving dog.
I still dream Jasper is alive. Before that, my heart will not go.
My favorite poem, the one by Li Shang-Yin:
When Will I Be Home?
When will I be home? I don't know.
In the mountains, in the rainy night,
The Autumn lake is flooded.
Someday we will be back together again.
We will sit in the candlelight by the West window.
And I will tell you how I remembered you
Tonight on the stormy mountain.
This book has it all - outstanding writing, deep character development, a story that grabs you, great narration. While some elements of the story are a little over the top, this didn't bother me given the great writing and characters, it is fiction after all.
Big Hig (and Jasper of course). Big Hig is the person I would hope to be in a post-apocalyptic world. Savvy enough to survive but still with morals the ability to care for another living being with a fragile hope that things will get better. And Jasper, as his faithful, loving companion. As a dog lover, I appreciated the way that Peter Heller described the bond we have with our dogs and their importance in our lives.
I've listed to 100+ audiobooks and I have never heard a narrator so perfectly reflect a character as Mark Deakins as Big Hig. He IS Big Hig. For the written version, I've read some criticisms of the book's "stilted" language. This is not the case with the audiobook as this format helps convey his emotional landscape - that of a man who has lost everything, trying to take solace in the fact that he is still alive while slowly and painfully trying to move forward. I can't imagine enjoying the book as much in written form. The audio version brings such dimension to Big Hig's character and his broken world.
Big Hig's experience of grief. I made the mistake of listening to this while shopping and had to run to the ladies room before I seemingly cried for no reason in the middle of a Target. I have never have a heard such a perfect description of the experience. While the loss of the character saddened me immensely, it perfectly conveyed what each of us feels during these times - the joyful memories, tragic reality of loss and comfort that although they are gone, in spirit they are always with you.
Best Audible book of the year - BY FAR. You won't be disappointed. While listening, I was able to clean out 2 closets - a task I had been avoiding all year. I think that says it all!
Losing the most important person in your life can be very humbling, It fells like the end of the world. You find it difficult to make it through the day but if you are fortunate there is still something that keeps you going,
You look for the small joys in life. If you are very lucky you finally stumble into a day that makes you glad you persisted. The sun shines again and you find yourself smiling and the world goes on.
This story is not about the end of the world but rather about loss and survival.
Yes. This story was well told and had just the right amount of character development to draw you in and feel connected. I really enjoy the dynamic relationship between the main characters. Many post-apocalyptic stories are cookie cutter stories that can become indistinguishable from each other. The setting of this story adds a new twist to an old tale.
Mark Deakin's reading and interpretation of the story was fantastic. If I had to pick a favorite character based on Mark's performance, I would say Bangley. He made the character come to life and the voice he chose to use seemed very appropriate. However, the best character in the book was not a person but the relationship that grew between Higg and Bangley.
I really connected with Higg. His struggle to maintain his sanity and humanity in such a desolate and depressing environment touched me. The emotion attached to this story is precisely what I look for in a good book. I want to feel the character's sorrow, anger, and happiness. I want to connect with them and root for them. This story did this well.
A frequent listener with a taste for a little of everything.
It has been a couple of months since I read this, and it still sticks with me. It really illustrates the brutality and bleakness of a post-apocalyptic world without completely losing it's humanity. I was really impressed with that. I will probably come back to this book at some point. Well done.
I loved this book, especially the writing. Short declarative incomplete sentences are so very masculine and Mr. Deakins did a great job of reading them. Seemed like you were hearing the main character's thoughts because people don't really think in complete sentences. The story kept moving, expecially through the first half of the book. However I did think that the author resorted to a very improbable plot line (trying not to spoil things here) in order to wrap things up. Regardless, I listened a second time and would definitely purchase a sequel.
the way you can sometimes only appreciate someone when they're gone
the search for Bangley
Tell us about yourself!
This was worth the time spent listening. I am not a fan of post apocalyptic fiction as it usually involves horrors that I do not find entertaining.
This book, however, is believable. The characters have substance, their need to protect themselves ongoing, and the tedium of little or no change in their microcosms is palpable.
Hig's decision to break the 9 year pattern is a do-or-die move. It has more than one consequence and a new equilibrium is established at the end.
This is not an action packed adrenaline fueled book. It does, however, portray human adaptability and the will to survive. Needless to say some think individually, some on the group level, and some are just evil.
The narration is appropriate for this book; it is not too emotional nor too flat.
Every reader will find his or her private place in this book. The basics of life are examined and carefully aligned.