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The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

The Dog Stars (edition 2012)

by Peter Heller

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,5361374,781 (3.96)205
Title:The Dog Stars
Authors:Peter Heller
Info:Knopf (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 336 pages
Collections:2013, Untitled collection
Tags:fiction, literary fiction, post apocalyptic fiction

Work details

The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

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» See also 205 mentions

English (133)  Spanish (1)  All languages (134)
Showing 1-5 of 133 (next | show all)
SPOILER ALERT. Best book of this type I've read in a long time. The whole book, including dialogue and action, comes from inside his head, and is delivered in pieces that move the story along. It took awhile to get used to this kind of storytelling, and frankly there were times I wished he'd just get on with it. His dog dying is the turning point of his story, it unbalances him and sets him on the path that leads to everything else that happens, which has nothing to do with logic or common sense, and everything to do with need--from that point on it just gets better and better, and I was sorry to have it end. Like all good endings, it's really a beginning, and I wish Hig the best. One last word of warning--every heart in this book is a grieving one, and yours may be too by the time it's done. ( )
  unclebob53703 | May 2, 2016 |
Picked this book up from the library after reading the dust jacket. Would make a great book club discussion book many areas to discuss especially what extent you would go to to survive. There is a dog in the book that is the main characters anchor to the world. He flies a Cessna to track the surrounding area and to survey for game and incoming enemies. He is living somewhere outside of Denver, CO with someone who is probably ex military. ( )
  yvonne.sevignykaiser | Apr 2, 2016 |
This book was very slow to start. I had to push myself through the first half. There are definitely some interesting and lovely/funny moments, but overall the story didn't even feel like it started till over halfway through. There was a lot of introspection and reflection, and it's also told in a very different style of writing. Overall, the ending was great, which saved this book for me, and while I would recommend this book to certain friends, I definitely wouldn't recommend it to the majority. ( )
  mashiaraqcs | Mar 29, 2016 |
The Dog Stars by Peter Heller is a post-apocalyptic novel that takes place nine years after a pandemic flu virus has decimated mankind. Hig has survived, along with his dog, Jasper, and his neighbor Bangley, a gruff well-armed survivalist. They live at the small airport in Colorado where Hig kept his plane before civilization ended. Now he flies surveillance missions along their perimeter looking for any indication that he and Bangley should be expecting unwanted visitors.

Hig and Bangley cope with their situation quite differently. Bangley is a loner who almost delights in always being prepared and ready to kill any intruders. Hig would rather spend time with Jasper while flying, fishing, walking among the remaining trees in the forest, and hunting. One day Hig picks up a part of a transmission full of static that haunts his thoughts more and more. Are there other survivors out there and is some connection to other humans (beyond terse, laconic Bangley) possible? It takes a life shattering event to send Hig out on a trip to perhaps discover the person behind the radio transmission and maybe some reason to hope.

In The Dog Stars, Heller manages to write in captivating prose an inspired and poetic end-of-the-world novel. Hig may not quite be the wary cut-throat survivalist that he should be to survive, but he is still able to at least try to connect with his emotions while making his way through this changed world. And the world has changed. It wasn't complete annihilation of a nuclear strike - nature is intact - but global warming is still marching onward so what the flu (and blood disease) didn't do the changing environment might finish.

Along with the exceptional writing, Heller manages to make Hig a very sympathetic and appealing character. He also takes the natural world around Hig and does a great job describing it and how Hig relates to it. For the bleak subject matter, this novel doesn't leave you with a hopeless feeling.

The actual writing style is nontraditional (no quotation marks and fragmented thoughts, for example), so if you think that would bother you, please read the excerpt linked below.

Very Highly Recommended - one of the best

Excerpt www.peterheller.net/the-dog-stars/excerpt/ ( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Mar 21, 2016 |
This was an angst filled dystopian story told from the perspective of Hig, one of the rare survivors of a devastating virus that has swept the Earth. The early parts of Hig's story are rather dark as he is lost in grief over his wife's death. He's extremely isolated, his only friend is a dog named Jasper, his only human companionship is a harsh man named Bangley. Between Hig's plane and piloting skills and Bangley's military and weapons training, the two manage to keep each other alive and barely sane in a world where death is a constant threat.

I enjoyed the characters in this book quite a bit. It was fascinating to see how each of them found different activities and routines (or develop the occasional odd behavior) to cope with their unbelievable stress. I wasn't sure about Bangley's friendship in the beginning, but I grew to understand his ways. Pops was also a suitably cool guy that impressed me on many occasions. And then there is Jasper...man's best friend and Hig's faithful companion. There are many touching scenes between the two throughout the book.

I wasn't overly blown away by Cima's character, but I did like how the relationship she developed with Hig seemed to heal them both. Cima's father (Pops) had taken her out of the city and escaped into the mountains before things completely deteriorated. Therefore, she had not seen the desperate actions, violence, and fires, that left civilizations in ruins. It left her at a disadvantage when it came to surviving the danger once they left the safety of their hiding place.

As it is with most dystopian books, the content can be emotionally heavy just by the nature of the setting. The degree will vary by the reader's personal threshold for such things, but the author offsets the darkness with beautiful scenes of hope and renewal. If you've never read a dystopian novel, this would be a good book to ease you into the genre. I especially enjoyed the ending. It was very satisfying.

I recommend this to any adult dystopian fan and will look for more of Mr. Heller's work. ( )
  Becky_McKenna | Mar 10, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 133 (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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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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