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The Dog Stars | [Peter Heller]

The Dog Stars

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 exists beyond the airport.
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Publisher's Summary

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

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    James Ball Nevada, USA 10-28-12
    James Ball Nevada, USA 10-28-12 Member Since 2009
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    "Airplanes, a dog, post-apocalyptic survival"
    What made the experience of listening to The Dog Stars the most enjoyable?

    Heller clearly is a poet and he brings a dreamy, verse-like style to this book, which I'd describe as a mashup of "The Art of Racing in the Rain" with "The Stand." It hit all my buttons: airplanes, dogs, apocalyptic survival, a sap-free romance and middle age. Best thing I've read all year.Also worth noting: I have a hard copy of this book and the physical writing style as it's laid out on the page is a bit jarring. Sort of like looking at e.e. cummings' work for the first time. In this audio format, the book finds it's perfect home. Mark Deakins really is main character Higg.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Probably Pops. I won't say much about him in order to avoid spoilers.


    Which character – as performed by Mark Deakins – was your favorite?

    Higg, the main character.


    If you could rename The Dog Stars, what would you call it?

    "I, Aviator" or "The Omega Pilot" (Not really. It's perfectly named, as is.)


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joel NEWPORT BEACH, CA, United States 10-16-12
    Joel NEWPORT BEACH, CA, United States 10-16-12 Member Since 2011

    Joel Szerlip

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    "Masterful Use of the English Language"

    I loved The Dog Stars. I have a soft spot for post-apocalyptic tales, and this hit the sweet spot. Peter Heller did an incredible job of using some of the most eloquent ways to describe the end of the world.

    I did however find the first half of the book to be far better than the second. I thought the author took some interesting turns from the typical survival mentality of a post-apocalyptic book and made it feel far more human. However the second half of the book lost its way a bit and the ending sort of left me scratching my head.

    However I could not imagine not reading this book without the brilliant narration of Mark Deakins. Mark took the role head on and deserves some sincere accolades for his performance. One of the best performances I have heard in 2012.

    I loved The Dog Stars. I would highly recommend it especially if like me you enjoy a good post-apocalyptic tale.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. Altman 10-13-12
    M. Altman 10-13-12

    brokerma

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    "Couldn't Wait to Get in the Car to Listen"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, I would recommend this book to a friend because it was they type of story that is sometimes intense, sometimes thoughtful but always interesting and moved along at a nice pace.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Dog Stars?

    When the main character went into the woods with his dog.


    What does Mark Deakins bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Just the right inflections to make him believable as the main character.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The main character's relationship with his dog, like when they slept at night.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason Leawood, KS, United States 10-09-12
    Jason Leawood, KS, United States 10-09-12 Member Since 2007
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    "How a poet survived the end of the world"

    This is not the kind of book I listen to. It is melancholy (yet happy) and even tempo-ed and has a grand total of 5 characters, including a dog. Yet, I raced through the entire 10 plus hours in about 3 days, riveted and eager to learn what happens next. A character study written in a poetic style about a couple of survivors many years after a flu wipes out nearly everybody left on the planet. Sole searching and introspective and still able to pull off a fascinating story arc. One of the best books I've listened to in a very long time.

    Lovers of dogs, flying, Colorado and all introverts should read/listen to this story.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Edward Arvada, CO, United States 10-09-12
    Edward Arvada, CO, United States 10-09-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Poetically written post-apocalyptic fiction"
    What did you love best about The Dog Stars?

    The relationship between Hig and Bangley


    What did you like best about this story?

    The poetic prose style of writing


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The scene at the Grandjunction airport


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    When Hig's dog died


    Any additional comments?

    Didn't care for the end. Specifically the insinuation that some middle eastern country destroyed America.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    NColville 10-01-12
    NColville 10-01-12

    Nancy

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    "Loved this book!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I listen to Audible while I work, and this audiobook kept me engaged for the entire length of it. Mark Deakins' narration was so easy to listen to and so powerful, that I was engrossed from start to finish.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Dog Stars?

    Hig, the main character in the book, seems like a lost man and begins to give up after his best buddy - the dog that ties him to the world before it all but came to an end - dies. But he doesn't give up. He puts everything into one last shot at finding someone else alive out there.


    Which character – as performed by Mark Deakins – was your favorite?

    Hig - although the dog was pretty cool.


    Any additional comments?

    A great listen, wonderful characters and brilliant narration!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Esther Saskatoon, SK, Canada 10-01-12
    Esther Saskatoon, SK, Canada 10-01-12 Member Since 2014

    Tell us about yourself!

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    "I loved,loved,loved this book...wanted more"
    Any additional comments?

    I hope this writer does a second book . The words was like poetry. It is a great listen and left me wanting more. Worth while buying BIG TIME. I can't wait to listen to it again in the near future.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janet Castle Valley, UT, United States 09-29-12
    Janet Castle Valley, UT, United States 09-29-12
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    "Good Story Line but Too lengthy"
    What would have made The Dog Stars better?

    I think the abridged version would be a much better listen. The first half of the book was very slow and too much attention to detail. The second half had more action and seemed to hold our attention better.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    Like the ending


    What does Mark Deakins bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Too many descriptive words that you can't skim by when reading the book. The reader was very good - enjoyed his voice.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Intrigue and wondering "what if..............."


    Any additional comments?

    Abridge this book and it could be a best seller!!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    E. Pringle Washington, DC 09-25-12
    E. Pringle Washington, DC 09-25-12 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Something missing..."

    ... like a unique plot? You've heard the story - some plague/blood disease wipes out most of humanity, the remaining survivors struggle to survive, etc... But the disturbing part is that people don't generally help one another in this tale. He paints a portrait of humanity that is a little like that in McCarthy's "The Road", only there's no dying Earth. Wild life abounds, crops grow, so why all the fighting and hostility? Heller never really addresses this question. And why does the dog have to eat human flesh?? Many questions unanswered. There is some good writing but it is crowded out by all the gaps in logic.

    Then the narrator who seems to be taking unnecessary pauses in the middle of sentences, in the middle of thoughts. Why? More unanswered questions.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gregory waynesville, OH, United States 09-17-12
    Gregory waynesville, OH, United States 09-17-12 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not a dog!"

    I did not realize, considering the type of books he had previously done, that Heller is such a fine writer! This book although about a depressing state of affairs following an apocalyptic event, manages to be an excellent read. I will omit the the event because it would lessen the reader's pleasure. The pessimistic view of society after this event is overidden by the central characters. Highly recommended.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
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