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The Dog Stars

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  25,471 ratings  ·  4,360 reviews
Hig somehow survived the flu pandemic that killed everyone he knows. Now his wife is gone, his friends are dead, and he lives in the hangar of a small abandoned airport with his dog, Jasper, and a mercurial, gun-toting misanthrope named Bangley.

But when a random transmission beams through the radio of his 1956 Cessna, the voice ignites a hope deep inside him that a better
Hardcover, First Edition, 320 pages
Published August 7th 2012 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2012)
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Allie Miscellaneous I met the author today in a class setting and we asked him that question. The story is supposed to feel like a genesis plot, and the reason why Hig…moreI met the author today in a class setting and we asked him that question. The story is supposed to feel like a genesis plot, and the reason why Hig took Cima with him in the plane was purely for metaphorical, not practical reasons. It was supposed to evoke the Noah and the ark feeling, with the man and the woman and the two sheep of both genders. (less)

Community Reviews

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hey, amazon! you watchin' all these reviews now?? making sure they are all sunshiny five-star gushings that won't hurt the authors' feelings and cost you a sale?? making sure i don't drop any naughty words?

well, i can't five-star this book, so i guess i am writing this for nothing, and it might get deleted in the "every book is a winner" mentality of your book-worldview.

but i am gonna write it anyway, in the hopes that can still be the place it should be - where people can have opi
8/14/12: I heard the author read from this last night. I'm SO glad I made the effort to do so as he was fantastic. A little scary to begin a book with such high expectations, but I really feel good about this one. Here goes...

8/18/12: Best book of 2012? Very likely it will be for me.

The writing is very unique and takes a few pages to get used to, but it becomes so personal and powerful that I inhabited the world of Hig and his beloved dog, Jasper. I don't think I fully returned to reality during
One star for this, only because I couldn't finish it. The writing style of this book drove me bat-shit crazy. In addition to no quotation marks AT ALL, here are a few examples of sentence composition.

"For the dog he said. Angry. Because I didn't do my job. To him."


"The way the landscape falls into place around the drainages, the capillaries and arteries of falling water: mountain slopes bunched and wrinkled, wringing themselves into furrows or couloir and creek, draw and chasm, the low pla
Note: This review is of an ARC. The book is set for an Aug. 7th release.

If you liked Cormac McCarthy's THE ROAD, you're going to like Peter Heller's THE DOG STARS. If you did not like THE ROAD, you're still going to like THE DOG STARS.

Yes, Heller's book is reminiscent of McCarthy's, but you don't have to be a dystopia devotee to appreciate it. Why? Heller is a writer's writer with a talent for deft, descriptive strokes, for one, and his dystopian yin hasn't forgotten its utopian yang. Meaning: H
I'm having trouble thinking of how to talk about this book without talking about the ending, which I think is a good thing, so I'll do my best to be spoiler-free while still addressing my main points about it. First, Hig and his dog are egregious self-inserts of the author and his dog, but somehow, this is one of the least obnoxious examples I've ever seen. Hig is both deeply flawed and deeply damaged by the events of nine years prior. In case you have any question that this may be the case, the ...more
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 3.5* of five

The Publisher Says: 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
Charlie Quimby
I don't usually review books that have been reviewed to death. Better to find a worthy, unseen work and lift it up. But I'm making an exception for Peter Heller's The Dog Stars because I haven't seen a review yet that tapped into the thread it opened up for me.

Like Heller's main character Hig, flying over a flu-wasted Colorado looking for someone to connect with, I tried to find a review that spoke to this passage:

Still we are divided, there are cracks in the union. Over principle. His: Guilty u
5 Stars

I had originally only scored this post-apocalyptic read at 4 stars bought after having finished it two days ago, my fond recollections have changed my mind. This is a wonderful story and tale about a post-apocalyptic time when the world has been decimated due to an out of control flu and blood disease. Sure this has been done many times before, and it is a favorite genre of mine, but in this book The Dog Stars by Peter Heller, we are treated to a very unique point of view. You see Big Hig
My sister and I are like twins born four years apart. She is my best friend and I would give her both of my kidneys. Yet, it hasn't always been this way. There was a time that even though we still felt obliged to love each other, we found we had little in common. Four years can be a serious obstacle when you're a teenager. We also belonged to an entirely different social groups. My sister was more of a cheap wine, flannel shirts, suicidal rock singers kind of girl while I tended to find my solac ...more
If this book didn't have a dog as one of the mian characters this would have been a three star for me.

Hig survives a super flu out break that kills off everyone he loves except for his dog Jasper and his airplane The Beast (which is also the name of an awesome roller coaster at Kings Island in Cincinnatti). He teams up with a man who is now a sociopath, but might not have always been before the shit hit the fan. They hold up at a small airport that they can protect with the help of a tower, a f
I loved this debut novel, a spare and bittersweet story of survival in rural Colorado after a disease induced apocalypse. The strength in this tale lies in Heller’s portrayal of grief stricken Hig, who is continually balancing his lyrical introspections on finding meaning in his narrowed life and his cherishing of the beauty that remains.

Hig has been living a lonely life for nine years after an epidemic flu killed off most of humanity. He has settled at a remote airport north of Denver where the
Tim Karasko
In the sub-genre of post-apocalyptic fiction the reader is left with a narrative mostly bleak, bare-boned, and animalistic; "happy endings" or "humanity" are typically cast aside for a much more gritty tale of survival, with the concept of "survival" used liberally as it seems more just dumb luck that the protagonist makes it to the end of his or her ordeal. In recent years Cormac McCarthy's The Road has been hailed as the best example of this form of fiction while in the past Neville Shute's On ...more
The Dog Stars is Peter Heller's debut novel, which was promoted on Amazon as their book of the month in August of 2012, and it gathered rave reviews from the critics and readers alike. That's exactly what got me into reading Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore - which I didn't think was all that good - but this one appealed to my tastes: I enjoy post-apocalyptic fiction, and thought that it could be a new and interesting addition to the genre which is now mostly populated by novels for young adults ...more
J.T. Geissinger

One of the best things about literary fiction is being held in thrall by the sheer power of an unusual voice. Sometimes a unique voice is disastrous but in Peter Heller's Dog Stars, I was swept away by the most powerful prose I've read in a very long time. Genuine and moving, this book manages to teach lessons about the true nature of human existence while simultaneously being very quiet and introverted.

Here's what I loved:

1. The character development is superb.

Even the dog, J
Ask me what books made the biggest impression on me in my childhood and one of my answers would be Nevil Shute’s On The Beach – an unforgettable vision of a post-apocalyptic world. In that book, Captain Towers hears a faint Morse code signal, transmitting from far away, and heads off on a tour of a ruined world, seeking life.

I suspect that Peter Heller is also familiar with On The Beach. His debut book, The Dog Stars, is simply masterful. Unlike other writers of this genre, who focus on the scie
It's strange. I heard a lot of good things about this book and picked it up from the library this week all without knowing what it was about, or that it has been compared to McCarthy's The Road or anything like that. I am not sure how that happened but I'm glad it did.

I have been searching for a book that is hard to put down. A book that kept me thinking about it when it was out of my hands. This book did exactly that.

There is a sort of terse style to the prose especially the dialogue that takes
The flu killed almost everybody, then the blood disease killed more. The ones who are left are mostly Not Nice, why we live here on the plain, why I patrol every day.

I see that several reviewers are comparing this book to The Road, so I'll jump on that bandwagon for a bit. While Cormac McCarthy's book worried me, and gnawed at me, The Dog Stars kept me at arm's length. I would have had no trouble putting this book down and not returning to it for a month. Or ever. I was so removed from the pligh
Jun 16, 2012 Brandon rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Brandon by: Books On The Nighstand
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 wipe
Last year, it took me until June to find a story which settled deeply and permanently into my soul-- one I knew I'd never forget (rare books, those.) (Sea Change-- if you're curious)

This year, it took until July.
And it was well worth the wait.

What do you get if you cross a post-apocalyptic Cormac McCarthy with the grittiness of a Thomas Cobb western?

A damned fine story which has one vicariously living the raspy, bare life left remaining to the narrator, Hig. A shell of what once was a flourishin
Eh. I had a hard time getting past the writing style. I guess the flu that eradicated 99% of the world's population also killed sentences, paragraphs, and complete thoughts. Considering that the narrator mentioned several times how much he enjoyed poetry and would have liked to have been an English teacher, I think that the writing style Heller chose was not particularly effective.

As far as the plot -- I found the bleak, miserable post-apocalyptic future painted by Heller to be completely point
Samantha Allen
This book is incredible in so many ways. A rare gem that will make your heart pound like a thriller and make your hair stand on end from the prose. Also rare in the fact that it's written in present tense, yet flows effortlessly. Though I'm a fan of the present tense it has a number of limitations, one of which being that it feels unfamiliar, since most people are used to reading in the past tense. But I hardly noticed it wasn't in past tense. I got about fifty pages in before I realized. That's ...more
Aaron Cance
Just when I had falsely assumed that Cormac McCarthy had given us the last word on the post-apocalyptic novel, along comes Peter Heller with something fresh. Written in an unusual, abridged stream of consciousness style format, Heller's prose is lean and muscular. His protagonist, Hig, (or "Big Hig") is a sensitive guy who has survived a nameless pandemic that has wiped away the better part of the world's population. Despite the fact that he's daily living in a combat zone, tenaciously guarded b ...more
Scott Rhee
Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" set the bar high for end-of-the-world elegiacal father-son novels, but Peter Heller's debut novel "The Dog Stars" certainly meets it and may even surpass it.

"The Dog Stars" doesn't read like a post-apocalyptic novel. That is, perhaps, its first saving grace. Unlike "The Road" which was dripping with utter sadness and hopelessness for the human race, Heller's novel almost seems, well, upbeat for a book about the years following a mutated flu pandemic that wipes out 9
The writing is perfect and the story is painfully brilliant. I can't really do this book justice so JUST READ THE BOOK. The world has suffered some kind of major flu killing off most people. There are pockets of survivors. Some stake out a place to live and spend their time protecting it. Others are marauders who rape and pillage. The new code is kill or be killed.

So what would you do in this situation? Would you try to survive? Do whatever it takes? Would you give up? Would you try to find lik
Wow - what an emotional book! I hovered on the verge of tears (and occasionally outright tears) for nearly the entire novel. Heller did an amazing job in writing this wonderful book! Drawn in from the very first page, the deeper into the novel I read, the clearer the details and shape of this destroyed world that Heller created became hauntingly real - and all felt completely plausible. The unconventional narrative style only confirmed and reinforced this newly destroyed Earth - adding to the ov ...more
5 Stars

I had originally only scored this post-apocalyptic read at 4 stars bought after having finished it two days ago, my fond recollections have changed my mind. This is a wonderful story and tale about a post-apocalyptic time when the world has been decimated due to an out of control flu and blood disease. Sure this has been done many times before, and it is a favorite genre of mine, but in this book The Dog Stars by Peter Heller, we are treated to a very unique point of view. You see Big Hig
Yair Bezalel
There's a word I consider more damning then any faint praise, and that's the word 'potential'. It, to me, implies a laziness, even a selfishness on the part of the subject that they were incapable or even just unwilling to utilize their full talents on a project. I hate this word because it's the prime weapon of those who wish to bridge their lack of understanding with a single word or phrase ('try harder' or any of its variants are some other gems).

That having been said, it pains me more than
The Dog Stars is really a stylised book full of interesting characters and quirks. Peter Heller's novel is a story of a pilot Hig’s who has survived a pandemic flu that has killed off most of the world’s population. He’s lot his wife and is living in a hangar of an abandoned airfield with his dog and his only neighbour is a misanthrope. He is now living in a world filled with loss, what will he risk to rediscover himself and reconnect with other survivors? Will he go against all odds just to mak ...more
Kyla Carlson
I'm updating my rating on this book, because I keep thinking about it and keep recommending it. I thought about giving it 5 stars when I first reviewed it, but didn't because I save those for extra-special books. In the fullness of time, I have deemed this book extra-special.

(Original review): I really, really liked this book. It's sort-of like The Road only very much not. It was a bit depressing and extremely thought-provoking, certainly discussion-worthy. The writing style took some getting us
First of all, this is another post-apocalyptic vision of the world. But, in the Dog Stars, the writing itself sets this book apart: the language is robust and experimental, with short machine gun like bursts and haiku-like prose. It is also dream-like and often beautiful. It is about loss and survival and hope and it scared me, made me cry, and sometimes gave me a laugh. There are no zombies, no vampires, no monsters...just us and we're terrifying enough. It's also a story about finding love in ...more
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Future Wastelands: February 2014 - The Dog Stars 1 17 Feb 01, 2014 02:17PM  
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There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Peter Heller holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in both fiction and poetry. An award-winning adventure writer and longtime contributor to NPR, Heller is a contributing editor at Outside magazine, Men’s Journal, and National Geographic Adventure, and a regular contributor to Bloomberg Businessweek. He is also the autho
More about Peter Heller...
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“Is it possible to love so desperately that life is unbearable? I don't mean unrequited, I mean being in the love. In the midst of it and desperate. Because knowing it will end, because everything does. End.” 59 likes
“Grief is an element. It has its own cycle like the carbon cycle, the nitrogen. It never diminishes not ever. It passes in and out of everything.” 55 likes
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