A riveting, powerful novel about a pilot living in a world filled with loss - and what he is willing to risk to rediscover, against all odds, connection, love, and grace.
Hig survived the flu that killed everyone he knows. His wife is gone, his friends are dead, he lives in the hangar of a small abandoned airport with his dog, his only neighbor a gun-toting misanthrope. In his 1956 Cessna, Hig flies the perimeter of the airfield or sneaks off to the mountains to fish and to pretend that things are the way they used to be. But when a random transmission somehow beams through his radio, the voice ignites a hope deep inside him that a better life - something like his old life - exists beyond the airport.
Risking everything, he flies past his point of no return - not enough fuel to get him home - following the trail of the static-broken voice on the radio. But what he encounters and what he must face - in the people he meets, and in himself - is both better and worse than anything he could have hoped for.
Narrated by a man who is part warrior and part dreamer, a hunter with a great shot and a heart that refuses to harden, The Dog Stars is both savagely funny and achingly sad, a breathtaking story about what it means to be human.
©2012 Peter Heller (P)2012 Random House Audio
"Richly evocative yet streamlined journal entries propel the high-stakes plot while simultaneously illuminating Hig's nuanced states of mind as isolation and constant vigilance exact their toll, along with his sorrow for the dying world.... Heller's surprising and irresistible blend of suspense, romance, social insight, and humor creates a cunning form of cognitive dissonance neatly pegged by Hig as an apocalyptic parody of Norman Rockwell...a novel, that is, of spiky pleasure and signal resonance." (Booklist)
"In the tradition of postapocalyptic literary fiction such as Cormac McCarthy's The Road and Jim Crace's The Pesthouse, this hypervisceral first novel by adventure writer Heller (Kook) takes place nine years after a superflu has killed off much of mankind.... With its evocative descriptions of hunting, fishing, and flying, this novel, perhaps the world's most poetic survival guide, reads as if Billy Collins had novelized one of George Romero's zombie flicks. From start to finish, Heller carries the reader aloft on graceful prose, intense action, and deeply felt emotion." (Publishers Weekly)
"Leave it to Peter Heller to imagine a post-apocalyptic world that contains as much loveliness as it does devastation. His likable hero, Hig, flies around what was once Colorado in his 1956 Cessna, chasing all the same things we chase in these pre-annihilation days: love, friendship, the solace of the natural world, the chance to perform some small kindness, and a good dog for a co-pilot. The Dog Stars is a wholly compelling and deeply engaging debut." (Pam Houston, author of Contents May Have Shifted)
I had to return this. I made it through the first 2/3s, though I confess I was hitting the fast-forward button pretty frequently. This author has a weird idea of pacing--he's in the middle of some action, and suddenly he starts drifting off to describing the scenery. Or feelings, or whatever--but he loses the thread of the story. Speaking of the story. . .look, I know not everybody is a pilot, but could anybody be as stupid as this pilot? Let's see. . .apparently the last plane left on earth, and for nine years, all he can think to do with it is go retrieve Cokes? He sets off on his big adventure--without pre-positioning gas or other supplies--drills along at low altitude so that his fuel consumption goes way up? Let's see. . .other technical errors include getting blasted by a shotgun--just how frickin' low was he flying??? The hero just doesn't seem like a realistic representation of a person to me; not believable. I'm all for survival stories, but a world where you only shoot on sight and never attempt to gain allies or friends, is just not anything like the humans I've grown up with. I'm surprised this got as many good reviews as it did. Maybe I was expecting more--especially after reading The Martian, which was an outstanding story of a man struggling to survive. This story. . .is just stupid.
The narration made the book really come to life, so yes.
This was a first time with Mr. Deakins. I will definitely look for him again.
Bangly was well written. I had a very clear sense of him and where he stood, although it was not clear just in the words.
Good concept and well told but with very annoying quirks of the author. Too often the author leaves out the pronouns which grated more than anything. I persevered and did enjoy it enough to get the author's next book. But I doubt I'll get anything else he writes. I just don't like his style enough. Based on other reviews I expected this to be visually stunning but the stunted narration style and the funky sentence structure didn't work for me. What I did like was that every detail of how the world "ended" wasn't spelled out.
A much better version of The Road by Cormac McCarthy...not to knock CM....I loved some of his other novels.
When Hig is walking into the perimeter with the villians on his tail, and Bangley uses the radio to get him through.
Yes. It made me pay more attention to my dog, Sonny. It made me realize how much I appreciate him as a real companion.
Not a plot driven book...but really...Such great writing and narration.
audio book junkie
This book has such great reviews I worry that there was something I missed. The good: This is a quiet story, a simple story. I really like that. There are some great characters in the book that are flawed yet lovable and draw you into this world. But for me there were a number of things lacking. There is very little dialogue in this book. I love dialogue and I kept finding myself, hours into the auidobook, thinking, "OK, when is the story going to begin?" When there actually was conversation between the characters, it created the best, most memorable parts of the book, for me there just wasn't enough of it. Also, without giving away any spoilers, the end of this book is too perfect for me. Peter Heller tied up an apocalyptic story and put a bow on it.
This book was my first by Peter Heller. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was well-written, with good a good plot. I did not see how, from the book summary, I would stay alert as I listen while commuting but I did not want to shut off my ipod. Kept me involved from beginning to end.
The significant scene when he goes out with his dog up the mountain.
I enjoyed the entire book.
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, A hoper, a pray-er, a magic-bean buyer. If you're a pretender come sit by my fire
...which is unfortunately pretty boring. The author does a really good job making you feel the isolation and despair and the joy in the really small, everyday things. The narration is also really slow, which probably aids in the feel that this book was going for? But I had to listen to it at 2x speed. Parts of this books were amazing, but for the most part the action felt cursory, the shocking grotesque scenes felt out of place, and the interesting authorial style seemed to dissipate as the story progressed. All told, though, it's an interesting story of the apocalypse that focuses not on fending off zombies or fighting the elements but just on living. I recommend this if you like pastoral novels or don't appreciate the fast-paced hollywood-style of story-telling.
Peter Heller writes such sweet, lyrical prose that it almost takes you out of the horror his characters are living. I loved that Hig, the story's teller, was still able to see so much natural beauty all around him even though the world had ended and been replaced with a nightmare. He also finds loveliness and a familial connection in the people he happens to meet who decide not to kill him just be cause he might be a threat to them, but wait to see if he might be worth trusting, worth saving, worth forming a bond with. He remains positive in a dark world and he finds light where it still exists, even when it might be hiding. Mark Deakins' narration was perfect. I look forward to more from this author and this narrator.
I like to read reviews, so that I can find books like this and new authors!
Never heard of Peter Heller, I never saw this book before, and if I had seen this book I would have passed on it purely because of the title. "The Dog Stars" title is a reference made by the main character near the end of the story that has very little outward importance to the contents of the book. It is the kind of title that shows the author's propensity for the 'subtle or poetic' in his writing.
I enjoy reading PA Stories when they have a modicum of good writing surrounding a plausible storyline. "The Dog Stars" is what "Survivors: A Novel" wanted to be, but wasn't.
#1 Aud Bks: T Help,T Darling, All D Sedaris,Prayer for Owen M.All G Flynn ,Secrt Lang of Bees, Bel Canto, 11/22/63 H2O fr Elephants Dog Star
Apocalyptic stories are not really my style ( I asked for a refund real quickly for xxxxx), but this story was wonderful . I have to admit that there is a real dog central to the story, for which I am often a sucker for. Anyhow, it is done well. Other reviewers are more articulate about writing style (sparse, but great) and plot development. I was swept away.
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