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The Dog Stars by Peter Heller
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The Dog Stars (edition 2012)

by Peter Heller

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1,011None8,417 (4)98
Member:PamDon
Title:The Dog Stars
Authors:Peter Heller
Info:Knopf (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 336 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:2012, post-apocolyptic

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The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

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The Dog Stars is a strange book in the sense that it has absolutely no right to be as good as it is. Not taking anything away from Peter Heller, the man is an accomplished non-fiction writer with countless best sellers. It’s just the fact that this is his first foray into the fiction realm is somewhat surprising. He crafts a well paced, interesting and fresh novel that exists in a genre that has been done to death.

9 years after the combination of a super-flu virus and a deadly blood disease wiped out a good chunk of humanity, we're thrust into the lives of Hig and Bangley, two survivors. Spending their time living in an old abandoned airport, they're constantly fortifying their territory with extensive security measures. When not wrapped up in that, Hig often takes to the sky in an old 50s airplane he has dubbed "The Beast", visiting nearby communities and bringing aid to the sick.

Content to just stick to his new home and take out any intruders, Bangley lets Hig go off on these R & R trips with his dog, Jasper. Following an unexpected transmission received approximately 3 years prior, Hig often considers flying to its source.

Will Hig eventually seek out the voice on the other end and if so, will the journey be worth it?

Heller's prose was a little difficult to adjust to at first. I’ve only read a few authors that have ditched the ever reliable quotation mark (Cormac McCarthy and James Frey) and it never really sits well with me when I’m first diving into a novel. It's not that I have a hard time reading it, I just prefer when I can clearly separate dialogue in my head.

His protagonist, Hig, is quite the sympathetic character and Heller doesn’t really waste a whole lot of time in pulling at your heartstrings. When the outbreak happened, with the exception of his dog Jasper, Hig lost everything. While there are a few scenes of inner dialogue that really drive home just how lonely and depressed this man is, it never seems sappy or cliche, which is a plus.

His only friend, and Hig really wonders at times if they really are friends, is pretty much the exact opposite. While Hig shows empathy for families living outside their compound, Bangley would sooner kill them off. A tough, self-proclaimed gun nut, Bangley represents an alternative to Hig's peaceful ways - a good reason why the duo is still alive after all this time.

It may have something to do with the fact that I'm currently making my way through Firefly but I kept envisioning Bangley as portrayed by Adam Baldwin and Hig as Nathan Fillion. Both seem to fit the bill nicely but it may have something to do with this scene.

I really enjoyed this novel. While it's not perfect, Heller shows some promise for a first time novelist. I'm interested to see what he has planned next. ( )
1 vote branimal | Apr 1, 2014 |
The Dog Stars by Peter Heller March 2014

The story in this book was wonderful but the writing in the book was inconsistent. The characters, settings and plot were fascinating. Some of the writing was really moving. However, there were too many passages which used very clipped sentences - missing verbs, unclear who was talking - sometimes adding to the atmosphere but often becoming irritating.
On the whole I am glad I persevered as the reading became easier the story progressed but I have to admit I skimmed through some parts.
A great story but only a very good book. ( )
  rosiezbanks | Apr 1, 2014 |
Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction
6 Stars

Surviving a pandemic is one thing but holding off the looters, cannibals, and crazies is another. When Hig hears a random transmission on the radio of his Cessna he takes it upon himself to see if paradise is really out there. What he finds is much more than he bargained for and better than he could have ever hoped. But in a world gone mad sacrifices must be made…

Official Peter Heller Website http://www.peterheller.net/the-dog-stars/ ( )
1 vote TheAlternativeOne | Mar 18, 2014 |
Interesting premise about a flu that wipes out a large part of the population and how those that are left behind survive. It is very poignant and sad, but worth reading. ( )
  Laurie.Schultz | Mar 15, 2014 |
This was not one of my favorites. When there was action I enjoyed it. When nothing was going on I skimmed/skipped sentences. Replacing the non-action parts with "*so much time* later" would have been better. The author was not consistent with style. When ideas were fully flushed out, the story entertained. The sections with incomplete sentences and brief details were disappointing. Seemed like a 50/50 mix of entertainment and disappointment.

The time line was confusing. It contained material that was told "current day," told "this happened in the past," and also told "this is going to happen in the future." The all-knowing nature of the story teller was confusing. It jumped between the styles, not letting the reader know. I decided it was not worth re-reading sections to see what I missed/misunderstood when I figured out what was going on. In more capable hands, I would have re-read sections and enjoyed the style. There are many authors who could have pulled it off: S. J. Bolton, Ben Bova, David Brin, Orson Scott Card, Suzanne Collins, Nelson DeMille, J. K. Rowling, Dan Simmons, and Neal Stephenson come to my mind. The concept was great. I wished one of those had written it. ( )
  mainrun | Feb 25, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 84 (next | show all)
Heller's writing is stripped-down and minimalist, like a studio apartment in Sparta. It's an Armageddon book as written by Ernest Hemingway. The future is spare. If you see an adjective, kill it.
added by WeeklyAlibi | editWeekly Alibi, John Bear (Jul 26, 2012)
 
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I keep the Beast running, I keep the 100 low lead on tap, I foresee attacks.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
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.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0307959945, Hardcover)

Amazon Best Books of the Month, August 2012: Adventure writer Peter Heller’s The Dog Stars is a first novel set in Colorado after a superflu has culled most of humanity. A man named Hig lives in a former airport community—McMansions built along the edge of a runway—which he shares with his 1956 Cessna, his dog, and a slightly untrustworthy survivalist. He spends his days flying the perimeter, looking out for intruders and thinking about the things he’s lost—his deceased wife, the nearly extinct trout he loved to fish. When a distant beacon sparks in him the realization that something better might be out there, it’s only a matter of time before he goes searching. Poetic, thoughtful, transformative, this novel is a rare combination of the literary and highly readable. --Chris Schluep

Amazon Exclusive: Author Peter Heller on the Star of The Dog Stars

Jasper the Blue Heeler Mix
The inspiration for Jasper, a Blue Heeler mix, who is an integral part of this novel.

Our Hero, Hig, lives at a little country airstrip which he shares with his beloved blue heeler Jasper, and a mean gun nut named Bangley. It's nine years after a super-flu has killed 99.7% of the people on the planet. Hig sleeps out under the open sky at night with Jasper. He does it because he loves to see the stars, and because it's safer: if marauders come he won't be trapped in one of the nearby houses.

He used to have a book of the stars, but now he doesn't, so when he's lying out at night he makes up constellations. Mostly they are animals, and he makes one for his best friend Jasper. The Dog Stars. It's Hig's way of reinventing the lost world, and keeping in touch with the things he loves.

Jasper, to me, is the star of the book. He is fiercely loyal, and he gives Hig something to live for when there is not much else to hold on to.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:06:34 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Surviving a pandemic disease that has killed everyone he knows, a pilot establishes a shelter in an abandoned airport hangar before hearing a random radio transmission that compels him to risk his life to seek out other survivors.

(summary from another edition)

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