The Dog Stars

  • by Peter Heller
  • Narrated by Mark Deakins
  • 10 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

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.

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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)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Stars Shine Bright

My reading list includes very few stories with post-apocalyptic settings. I have high regard for "On the Beach" and "Alas Babylon" but those were of another era. I wasn't sure I would enjoy "The Dog Stars." It was almost an impulse purchase.
I was very pleased with my purchase. Peter Heller has written a very well rounded novel. The overall melancholy and the episodes of violent encounters were there, as I expected, but it was the description of introspective thoughts and emotions which made the novel stand out for me.
Heller does an excellent job of introducing story threads into the novel and then following and expanding them with great attention to details and overall pacing of the tale. Nothing gets shoved into a corner or suddenly dropped in the next chapter.
Heller's writing of Hig's relationship with his dog Jasper touched me most of all, and a man's love for his dog is something that's as timeless as the constellations in the sky.
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- Doug

The End is Merely a Beginning

This first person apocalyptic narrative is sometimes hard for listeners/readers to stomach. I understand that. However, The Dog Stars overcomes all the pitfalls of broody end-of-days pessimism by engaging the listener in a myriad of believable and realistic scenarios that might occur should North America be devastated by a biological holocaust.

I found the main character compelling and believable due to his self-doubt, empathy, and a touch of true-to-life skills that make his survival and subsequent experiences plausible.

It is my contention that this book is worth of your credit, if for nothing else than the truly human uncertainties expressed by the protagonist. I usually found myself sympathetic with the main character, often asking the question, "Is that what I would have done?" The answer was more often than not, "Yes!"

This writer has much to offer all of us in terms of insight into our own fears and angst about a future uncertain. We all could learn much from his narrative.
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- Craig

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-07-2012
  • Publisher: Random House Audio