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The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

The Dog Stars (edition 2012)

by Peter Heller

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1,4801245,026 (3.95)201
Title:The Dog Stars
Authors:Peter Heller
Info:Knopf (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 336 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

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» See also 201 mentions

English (122)  Spanish (1)  All languages (123)
Showing 1-5 of 122 (next | show all)
A post-apocalyptic book club selection!
The author is a writer for magazines like National Geographic Adventure (so I know I've probably read some of his writing before). He concentrates on outdoor & adventure writing, so the whole post-apocalyptic survival thing seems to come naturally. I felt that may of the details of flying a small plane, traveling through the wilds, etc felt like personal experience, and lent a sense of reality to the book.

The writing style is a very stream-of-consciousness flow, which varies depending on the emotional state of the narrator. I felt it was done very well. There seems to be a big trend in the post-apocalyptic genre toward non-standard language usage, and it often annoys me (see: The Road; The Book of Dave),but I just fell into this, and went with it.

As far as the plot - well, there are a lot of familiar elements. The holed-up-in-a-safe place trope, the fighting off mad gangs, the survivalist trek, the dealing-with-plagues, all that good stuff.

Two men have teamed up to try to survive in a violent world.
One has a small plane, one has weapons expertise (and is almost psychotically, defensively violent). They've been doing well, or at least as well as can be expected: they're alive. But when the pilot's aging dog dies, he sets out on an almost-surely-doomed expedition to try to find the source of a mysterious radio broadcast he'd heard years before.

In addition to the expected, though, there are also some really original and interesting elements here. I really liked some of the characterizations. I saw the book as a musing on what people need to survive, and an exploration of the theory that compassion must balance aggression, but that both are needed and essential parts of humanity. ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
The Everybody Read book for my local library's yearly event. I loved this book and would recommend to anyone. Humorous at times, sobering and thought-provoking, makes for great conversation about humanity. ( )
  KathyGilbert | Jan 29, 2016 |
Loved this book! The official genre may be "post apocalyptic" but there is a romantic heartbeat giving it life. Heller's stream of consciousness writing is like a long, deep, easy poem. The loves, or romances, between Hig & his dog Jasper, fellow survivor & super-soldier Bangley, his Beast-ly airplane, the Colorado plants, wildlife and waterways, and finally Cima are all infused with the hope that carries one on the swelling and receding tides of life. ( )
  andreasaria | Jan 24, 2016 |
Meh. I read this for an (adult) book discussion I am ( )
  LadyBill | Jan 23, 2016 |
"The Dog Stars" is a heart-breaking story about loss and survival. Hig was a contractor and a poet, but that was before the massive flu that killed his pregnant wife and most of the human race. Hig has a 1956 Cessna and a lifetime supply of gas. He flies twice daily and lives in the abandoned airport with his dog, Jasper. His only friend is Bangley, an eccentric neighbor. Together they guard and protect their surroundings from intruders. They've been living in this world for nine years, able to survive because of Bangley's expertise with guns and Hig's ability to hunt and fish. Hig is plagued with loneliness and tries to keep alive his dream that something better can be found out there somewhere. Several years after the collapse, he hears a radio transmission and feels some stirrings of hope. He's done waiting and puts together a risky plan to see if he can find others like him.

I'm not a huge fan of zombie-fighting post-apocalyptic books so I have a tendency to stay away from most of the genre. There are skirmishes with intruders and I actually found the bad guys much worse than zombies. The author's depiction of the the intruders is probably more like what could actually happen in a post apocalyptic world.

The poetic language and the frequent use of fragmented sentences may not appeal to some readers. I found I struggled at the beginning but soon realized that the way it's written added to the authenticity of the character. I imagine with the daily threats of war and warnings of the risk of Ebola that anyone reading this will wonder how we can avoid this world”. What will people do and how will they behave if the world changes? It's a very thought provoking book and I highly recommend it.

( )
  Olivermagnus | Jan 17, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 122 (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)

» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Peter Hellerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Deakins, MarkNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I keep the Beast running, I keep the 100 low lead on tap, I foresee attacks.
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Wikipedia in English


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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:49 -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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