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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

Critic Reviews

"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)

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  • KP
  • Oakland, CA
  • 12-31-13

A different view of the apocalypse!

I loved the writing in The Dog Stars! The author did such a great job of evoking the main character’s personality. Hig was a combination of an outdoorsman and “man’s man,” and then also a poet and philosopher. He was sensitive and often compassionate; I really loved his character.

The Dog Stars reminded me of “The Little Prince” in which the narrator flies around the world in his airplane, is stranded in the desert, and meets the little prince who expounds on the beauties and also the frailties of the world. Like The Little Prince, The Dog Stars presents a lesson about life. This famous line from The Little Prince is really the theme of that book: "One sees clearly only with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye." In the Dog Stars, it seems like the apocalypse has made Hig’s past life “invisible, “ and somehow allowed him to live more in the present, appreciating every small beauty, like the little prince said! Hig is has a poetic nature anyway, and so his observations throughout the book are poignant and touching.

At the end of The Little Prince, the prince tells the narrator that when he leaves it will make the narrator sad, but it will be consoling to look at the stars and think of the prince's lovable laughter, and that it will seem as if all the stars are laughing. It seems like Hig uses the stars in this way, as a sort of consolation, and that the name of the book refers to the nostalgia and beauty in the memories of all the stars he has named that console him in his current, post apocalyptic life.

The Dog Stars is the type of sci-fi that I like. I think you could call this science fiction in that it takes one aspect of the world today and fictionalizes it, but still lets all the characters interact in totally realistic way, and the lessons learned apply to us today in the real world. All the ruminations that Hig dished out over the course of the book seemed to be useful not only in a post apocalyptic world, but also in our modern day world.

I loved Hig’s relationship with Bingley. They are forced together, and they both learn from each other. The evolution of Bingley’s character is interesting and heartwarming.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Pilots take note

I think you'll enjoy this if for nothing else than nodding at the sense of freedom Peter Heller gets from flying. He discusses the Nearest button on the GPS he's got in his 1956 Cessna 182. I'm glad I listened to this book. The print version apparently has unconventional punctuation etc. One star off since I feel, some weeks after finsihing, that the bigger picture in the end is a little off the mark.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Cris
  • Lake Waccamaw, NC, United States
  • 08-16-12

What Happens After Disaster

Heller gives readers a look into a future that we fear. What remains of one's humanity when survival depends on meeting basic needs and killing any and all who venture into range? The hero is a unique character. Hig reads & writes poetry, is kind to outcasts and cries a lot. He is also a good if reluctant hunter and a pretty good killer when the situation warrants. The story is told in first person but not always in complete sentences--more like thoughts. The plot progresses slowly but I enjoyed every minute. Even though the book stands on its own merits, I want a sequel!

9 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Matthew
  • SEATTLE, WA, United States
  • 09-07-12

Compelling..

Another reader suggestion, and another hit. This one is abit erotic, abit violent, and a whole lot interesting. The story really doesn't go in any linear direction, but rather is a slice of post apocalpytic life, with a very complex narrator and associated characters.

I have been listening to quite a few of these types of "end times" books lately, and this one qualifies as "best of breed". Very definitely more of a psychological study, and a good one at that.

Needless to say, highly recommended.

8 of 11 people found this review helpful

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Loved it.

More than a survival story. Thought provoking themes of loss, love, and meaning and purpose in living. About friendships & trust. Glad there were not any zombies.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Couldn't stop listening!

I started reading this book several years ago when it was released. I didn't finish it before starting a new job and have spent years wondering what happened to Hig and if he found what he was seeking.

I finally decided to stop wondering and download it here. I usually listen on my commute or while doing chores. This book is so enchanting I found myself sitting down in the middle of a project so I could focus on the story.

Hig is a fantastic character. He's manly, but not hard. You wouldn't exactly call him a wimp, but he and his dog, Jasper, are unlikely survivors of an apocalypse. At least Hig managed to keep himself alive long enough to team up with a fanatic that makes Clint Eastwood look like a sissy. Bangley is a GREAT character. He's mean, hard, insane, and by the time Hig left for his big adventure I completely loved him.

Hig survived the flu that wiped out most of the world, but he didn't get out unscathed. He lost his pregnant wife and the fever altered his brain function though his intelligence in intact. Hig's narration. of the story is broken and sometimes travels in weird patterns as a result. As the book progresses, this is less noticeable though. Does Hig change that much or does the reader become accustomed to the strange thought pattern? It's hard to say.

This is a fantastic story of humanity. I laughed, I cried, and I'll be thinking about the story for days.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Mark
  • Waltham, MA, United States
  • 08-16-14

a great novel!

I loved The Dog Stars. It felt like a fresh take on a post apocalyptic world (a flu variation wiped out most of humanity). This first person narrative focused more on the narrator's state of mind, past and present. This story transplanted me to his world. While there are scenes of action and violence, they are few and far between, with the horror of the world being more psychological. It's a tale of Hig, his beloved dog, his airplane, and his brilliant and angry survivalist partner Bangley. I was fascinated with the relationship between Hig and Bangley. While there were some times when the narration was a little over-the-top wistful, I still loved this book. It has stayed with me in a way that few books do. This lends itself especially well to the audio format. This had a bit of the feel of The Road by Cormac McCarthy, with The Dog Stars being more engaging.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • victoria
  • Washington, DC, United States
  • 04-02-14

Something Very Special

I lived inside this story for days, relishing every word, character and image. It was a shock when the voice went silent. And for once, I felt like saying: Yes, thank you, Audible - I did enjoy this program.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Sandra
  • San Diego, CA, United States
  • 01-24-14

Poetic Post-Apocalyptic Pleasure

Where does The Dog Stars rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

If you enjoy excellent writing and the post-apocalyptic genre, this is a must. I didn't have terribly high expectations, but if I did, this book would have exceeded them. The best book I've listened to since Cutting for Stone, and I listen to a LOT of books (I have to do the "buy 3 credits now" before my credits come in each month) . The prose, with absolutely excellent narration, felt to my ears like melted butter on homemade muffins feels to my mouth. I devoured it. I adore being read to sleep, but this book could cure narcolepsy. I listened though sleep, while driving and was completely distracted from work.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Different, Yet very touching

Who was the most memorable character of The Dog Stars and why?

Told as a single narrative, The Dog Stars is an intriguing story which grabs and pulls you in. A great story, expertly told.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful