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 got this title due to an interview with Peter Heller that I heard on the radio. I've always had a soft spot for "End of the World as We know it" stories. I read "Earth Abides many years ago and many times since and love it. "Dahlgren" by Delaney, while freaky as all get out, kept me riveted even though I didn't understand half of it. And of course, there's "The Change" series by S.M. Stirling. If you're looking for something along any of these stories lines, forget it. The plot is pretty basic but it's the presentation of the characters and setting the I found remarkable. Heller's love for poetry saturates his writing. It's like he can't help it. The book reads like one big poem with lots of stream of consciousness thrown in. Don't let that turn you off though. Mark Deakins, the reader, goes through this book so smoothly that it took me a while to realize exactly what Heller was trying, and succeeding, to do. The book is entirely written in the first person from the viewpoint of the main character named Higg. Heller conveys Higg's thoughts, feelings, emotions and motivations beautifully without being overly verbose. Like poetry, it is language stripped down to it's barest essentials but with full meaning. No small feat.
It may be that this could be a difficult book to read. I'm glad that I listened to it on an audio book.
A fascinating tale told by the slightly fever-addled brain of our narrator. One of those gritty realistic apocalypse tales with a lot of survival details, but not quite as dark as The Road. It was suspenseful and excellently written.
How the character of Bangly was developed and revealed throughout the story. He was such an unlikeable character at first I was almost rooting for him to die, but that changes through the book. Also he is just your typical gun nut waiting for the apocalypse to really shine, so that was interesting to see played out.
This is not a PG-13 book. Definitely rated R or worse due to sexual content more than violence, so not good for kids. (Which is a shame)
A pilot's bird's-eye view affords him a unique perspective on the life of the land below, and Heller's novel, with a pilot at the center of it, provides readers with a unique view of the post-apocalyptic story. I was touched by Hig's (the main character, and a pilot) stubborn refusal to give up hope and decency in the face of the aftermath of the end of the world.
I appreciated that the story was in no particular hurry. We get the chance to know Hig, his dog, their past, hurts, triumnphs and ambitions. When the action starts, I was invested in Hig's success, and this is where the novel soars.
Loses a star due to the relatively thinly drawn secondary character--apparently all surviving men are stoic, western-style, military trained survivalists with a grudging sense of humor and a hidden soft-side (yes, I'm commenting on the hard to believe similarities between Bangley and Pops.) Also, the luck of the heroes strained credulity at times, in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, we would expect risky decisions to have at least some consequences.
But these flaws feel more like nit-picking, and are completely forgivable. Heller's prose (and occasional rhapsodic poetic passages on the beauty of the outdoors) soars with Hig and his iconic four-seater plane.
This book is a great character driven drama set in a post apocalyptic world that is utterly believable. The author wrote this as if it were poetry, and poetry plays large in the pace of the book and the ultimate outcome of the story. Lots and lots of people have complained that this book is really hard to read as it takes great liberties with punctuation. Mark Deakins does an outstanding job reading it and you get to enjoy all the great things this book has to offer without the hassle of trying to figure out the prose.
Higg is my favorite character, he seems real. I feel like I understand him, and he grows as a character while driving the story forward.
** Spoiler alert ** there is a very sad moment when Higg's dog dies. It is the moment when the story changes, when Higg is driven to find meaning and search for hope in a hopeless world.
living life and happy about it
It would depend on the friend. But I think most people would enjoy this book. The writer creates a vivid would with an interesting dystopian future where the 1 to 2 % of the population that survives aren't that great. I don't want to spoil the book but it does end with some hope and there is plenty of action.
I liked how he made all the characters very real. His voice conveyed the desolation of the ruined world very well.
Say something about yourself!
While there is violence, there is a lot more isolation. The set up was believable. I related to the tension between needing to be safe and the need to know if there are others out there like the protagonist. l enjoyed the book and recommend it.
This was an interesting story. I purchased it because of the reviews, however, it wasn't a great story. I enjoyed the book, taking us on a journey through the world after most of the population has died. The author made all encounters with other humans, violent, which I don't think would actually happen in such a time. Each person was only in survival mode, killing anyone that ventured near. I would have liked to see more interactions with survivors instead of just killing. I know that there would be factions of survivalists, but except for the main characters and the Mennonites, everyone was out to kill each other.
I enjoyed the relationship with the two main characters, that made things interesting, to have such different men, but who really had a friendship. I think the entire part of the story at the Grand Junction airport was a little weird, didn't seem to fit well. The writing was well done, narrator was excellent, but I just didn't like the story as much as I thought based on previous reviews.
I'm sure that there will be a second book, as even though the ending was good, there were a couple of possible stories waiting to evolve.
A beautifully-written book, very well read. I love the balance of interior monologue (like poetry - every word counts) with occasional bursts of action. So much to think about -- love, loss, friendship, how would I act if the world as I knew it ended? When are we truly alive and when just putting one foot in front of the other? I look forward to this author's next book.
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