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The Dog Stars Audiobook

The Dog Stars

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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

4.2 (2121 )
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  •  
    Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 12-05-15
    Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 12-05-15 Member Since 2005
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    "Dog is my copilot"

    The pitch: It's nine years after a superflu has wiped out most of North America. Higg, one of the few survivors, has holed up in an airport in Colorado, where he maintains an 80-year-old Cessna (the book seems to take place in the mid-2030s). His only companions are a dog named Jasper and a heavily-armed misanthrope called Bangley, who's very skilled at shooting armed visitors before they realize what's going on (problem is, nearly everyone still alive in this world is armed in some way). Higg spends his days fishing and hunting with Jasper, the more emotionally available of his two friends, and flying perimeter patrols, during which he tries to warn away less-hostile-seeming visitors and occasionally drops in on a colony of Mennonites, who are all infected with some flu-related wasting disease.

    Not surprisingly, Higg feels a bit lonely and yearns for something more than just surviving, while Bangley seems content to be left alone and views all other people as threats, as he does Higg's social and humanitarian urges. And to be fair, many of those who come calling do seem to have predatory intentions. Yet, Higg is unable to forget a voice he heard on his radio while flying, and wonders who it was.

    For its first half, except for several bursts of hair-rising violence, this is a slow, quiet book, focused on its protagonist's feelings, memories, and existential doubts. There's stuff that anyone who's been through a traumatic experience involving the death of loved ones can relate to, and thoughts on how we create meaning by inventing small challenges for ourselves. Around the midway point of the novel, something happens that increases Higg's desire for contact, and he sets off in search of it, risks be damned. It's not much of a reveal to say that he finds other people, but after nine years of near solitude, he's somewhat forgotten how to relate to others and must relearn.

    The book's emotional tone is somewhat uneven and Heller can't seem to make up his mind whether people should act like the brutal gangs in Cormac McCarthy's The Road, or show an urge to cooperate and connect. While I'm sure that people like the former would exist after a devastating population collapse, I think there's a middle path between a policy of blowing the head off every stranger one sees and one of being victimized. I imagine that many others would have an inclination to reconnect, rebuild, and repopulate, especially after nine years. So, I wasn't convinced about some of the human drama here, especially not by some characters we meet near the end, whose motives seemed nonsensical. And a significant relationship that develops between Higg and another character felt like it was missing some weight.

    Still, I enjoyed this book and its meditations on aloneness of various kinds (I listened to a few chapters while XC skiing by myself in the woods, and it completely fit my mood). All in all, it's not hard to see The Dog Stars becoming one of those movies where there are long, dialogue-free stretches of simple action and landscape shots, accompanied only by swells of ambient music, and the weight of human solitude becomes felt.

    This might be one of those novels that works better in audiobook. Higgs often expresses himself in abbreviated sentences that I suspect might give some people trouble with the text, but they worked well in spoken form, not unlike listening to a somewhat rambling friend.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Monica M. Severino Washington, DC 09-22-17
    Monica M. Severino Washington, DC 09-22-17 Member Since 2014
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    "Interesting premise. Awkwardly performed."
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Dog Stars to be better than the print version?

    I usually enjoy a good audio performance as much, if nor more than a print version. Not so in this case.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    I thought that the premise of two men living in an abandoned, post-apocalyptic subdivision full of McMansions (and their contents) made for an interesting survival story.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Mark Deakins?

    David Pittu


    If you could take any character from The Dog Stars out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    The only one worth having to dinner would be Jasper, the dog. And only if we could switch up his diet for the evening.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 09-12-17 Member Since 2017
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    "good story .. "

    leaves you wanting more, takes you to the point of hope and leaves you to answer what if's

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Stack Chicago 07-13-17
    J. Stack Chicago 07-13-17
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    "Simply awful"

    I've never been more annoyed listening to hours of sap. If it weren't my only book on a car trip I would've ended my suffering much earlier. Turns out actively hating the story and characters is a great way to stay awake on the road.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Kurtis Jay Nyman 07-12-17 Member Since 2017
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    "good writing, not my type of book"

    well written book that is very thought provoking. but not my preferred storyline. worth a read but not amazing.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. Dean U.S Army 07-09-17
    A. Dean U.S Army 07-09-17
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    "Excellent book! "

    So I heard about this book or stumbled upon this book randomly about 4 years ago, with my busy lifestyle just never got around to finishing it. Having it on audio has been a wonderful expierience. I truly enjoyed the narrative and different voices for characters. So glad I finally finished it. Great Book! one of my favorites.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Darren A Smith 06-27-17 Member Since 2012
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    "My favorite fiction book of all time"

    Everything you want in a book to escape reality for a while. The story and details take you right there

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    gekogekogeko 05-18-17
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    "Five stars for the first half, zero for the second"

    This could have been such a good book. The setup of the post apocalyptic world, characters and challenges had me glued to the speakers. But then, the second half completely fell apart. It becomes a slow moving, angsty yarn that spends far too much time dwelling on sex scenes more awkward than high school dates. Like, seriously, three hours of buildup. Those sections could have been cut completely.

    My suggestion: listen to part one and then fast forward to the second to last chapter.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chip Auger San Diego CA 05-16-17
    Chip Auger San Diego CA 05-16-17 Member Since 2015
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    "If A Poet Were to Write A Post-Apocalyptic Novel"
    What did you love best about The Dog Stars?

    4.0 Stars
    “The Dog Stars” will definitely take a special place in the pantheon of post-apocalyptic literature. This novel will mark a definite fork in the genre. A fork where future novels of this type will focus more on the human emotional impact of the survivors not just the details of their struggle to survive. Personally, I believe it will be as important to the genre as “The Book of Job” is to the development of monotheistic theology.
    Mr. Heller’s writing style is unique. His clipped short sentences are great for moving the story along. However, he does not always stay with them. He sometimes gets very descriptive and ventures off into hunting – fishing – flying tangents that are both informative and entertaining. In a few instances these digressions are overly long and distracting. Taken as a whole his writing style in the book beautiful and a pleasure to read.
    One last note: Toward the end of the novel, the author includes some sex scenes that are very detailed and descriptive without being erotic. Still not sure how he did that.
    Recommended: Yes


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Selena 04-30-17
    Selena 04-30-17 Member Since 2014
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    "Thrilling as Frozen Molasses"
    What would have made The Dog Stars better?

    If Heller hadn't tried to stretch a 10-page story into 50-something chapters.


    Has The Dog Stars turned you off from other books in this genre?

    It hasn't turned me off of the genre--I've read enough good ones to know it isn't the genre that's the problem. But I won't be bothering with anything else from Heller.


    What three words best describe Mark Deakins’s performance?

    Polished a turd.


    What character would you cut from The Dog Stars?

    Hig, the main character. Sad right? It was an interesting story, but Hig got in the way of it with his droning on and aimless thought-wandering. My guess is Heller was trying to make Hig seem "real" and "human." But there's a reason people don't write down every single word they've said or thought they've had--it's boring as hell.


    Any additional comments?

    Pick a different book!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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