Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Dog Stars” as Want to Read:
The Dog Stars
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Dog Stars

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  38,568 Ratings  ·  5,654 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, 336 pages
Published August 7th 2012 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2012)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Dog Stars, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Ben Krombholz It's been a while since I read this book, but I thought it was implicit that going out onto the road was risky (marauders, etc.), so they took off…moreIt's been a while since I read this book, but I thought it was implicit that going out onto the road was risky (marauders, etc.), so they took off with everything they could in case Gramps didn't make it (and/or they wouldn't/couldn't land).

The author's explanation is fine, but it doesn't gel for me. Metaphors should extend from logical story elements, not purely contrived for their own sake.

Just my two cents.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Mar 29, 2013 karen rated it liked it
Shelves: the-end

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
Jeffrey Keeten
Dec 12, 2016 Jeffrey Keeten rated it really liked it
Shelves: post-apocalyptic
“Meager as it is. Nothing to lose as I have. Nothing is something somehow.”

 photo DogStars_zps2c65e583.jpg

Hig doesn’t have much, but what he has is precious to him. He has his books of poetry. He has rivers to fish in. He has fuel to fly his plane. He has a furry co-pilot named Jasper. He has a garden. He has Bangley.

He used to have a wife. He used to have friends. He used to have the possibility of a long life full of happiness achieving all those things we are supposed to achieve.

He wasn’t supposed to be old at forty.

Jul 20, 2016 Penny rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
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
Dec 03, 2013 Jana rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
Jan 08, 2017 Ken rated it it was amazing

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: Hope hasn't escaped the box for good, in the case of this rewarding book.
Sep 21, 2012 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible-credit
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 Derus
Apr 21, 2013 Richard Derus rated it liked it
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
Feb 10, 2013 Charlie Quimby rated it really liked it
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
Jul 01, 2013 Kinga rated it liked it
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
Aug 31, 2012 Jason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books, read-2012
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
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
J.T. Geissinger
Jul 06, 2013 J.T. Geissinger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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
Jan 08, 2016 Tim rated it liked it
This is like a Walt Disney version of The Road.

First of all, I’m going to nominate this for the worst sex writing award - “All those pieces. She moved. Her moving over me called them called them. The way a thousand fish rock together with the swell. Back and forth. The way the stars in the leaves. I reached. In her, in the very center, somewhere the single only stillness where everything cohered. Nothing but reach.”

It’s taken me a month to get through this relatively short book. Mainly this was
Jan 19, 2013 Maciek rated it it was ok
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
Jul 07, 2012 Jill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Joe Valdez
Mar 19, 2015 Joe Valdez rated it it was amazing
The next stop in my end-of-the-world reading marathon was The Dog Stars, the 2012 debut novel by Peter Heller, an author based in Denver. Heller's previous books documented a kayaking expedition in Nepal (Hell or High Water) and environmentalists battling Japanese commercial whalers off the coast of Antarctica (The Whale Warriors); these seem to have built a strong base to explore how an American male with above-average outdoors skills might fare come doomsday.

The story is narrated by Hig, a fo
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
Oct 16, 2012 Melki rated it liked it
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
Feb 03, 2013 Dan rated it really liked it
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
Franco  Santos
Se desplomó. Di un paso al frente para abrazarla. Pensé en dos árboles casi arrancados e inclinados el uno contra el otro.
Pesado, repetitivo, interminable, aburrido. La constelación del Perro consiste en viajes en avioneta, descripciones de la avioneta, descripciones de paisajes, caminar, más descripciones de la avioneta, más descripciones de paisajes... Literalmente no pasa nada en todo el libro, nada.

Como aspecto positivo puedo decir que tiene algunos pasajes que me encantaron, solo eso. Ah
Jun 16, 2012 Brandon rated it really liked it
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
Jan 19, 2017 Gloria rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
Apr 18, 2015 Mona rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lyrical and Lovely Post-Apocalyptic Novel

Peter Heller's The Dog Stars describes in spare and lyrical prose the sadness, grief, and joy of life in post-apocalypse America.

A virulent flu pandemic has wiped out most of the population. Many of the survivors are afflicted with organ damage or blood diseases.

Hig and his neighbor, Bangley, live in the vicinity of an airport (which they use, as Hig is a pilot and there's a working Cessna there). They defend what Bangley calls "the perimeter" and have ma
Han pasado casi nueve años desde que una pandemia acabó con el 99% de la población mundial. Hig, el narrador, ha conseguido sobrevivir, y ahora malvive junto a su perro Jasper, y Bangley, un tipo duro y áspero, en un recóndito lugar de Colorado. La vida de Hig es monótona, se dedica a su huerto, y a volar en su vieja avioneta, una Cessna, con Jasper de copiloto, vigilando el perímetro desde el aire. De vez en cuando son acosados por algunos supervivientes, pero Bangley se encarga de eliminar cua ...more
Samantha Allen
Aug 27, 2012 Samantha Allen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 22, 2012 Aaron Cance rated it really liked it
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
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
Jul 07, 2016 Lawyer rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those who believe in the power of ho
Recommended to Lawyer by: Pulled from a young woman's bookshelf with thanks
The Dog Stars: On Loneliness

Full review to follow
Scott Rhee
Oct 02, 2014 Scott Rhee rated it really liked it
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Apocalypse Whenever: This topic has been closed to new comments. Dog Stars? Is a fantastic book! 9 136 Jul 31, 2015 03:25PM  
No Boundaries: finished! 1 5 Jun 07, 2015 06:55PM  
No Boundaries: april 1 5 Apr 03, 2015 07:26PM  
  • Far North
  • Odds Against Tomorrow
  • A Gift Upon the Shore
  • Running the Rift
  • The Uninvited
  • After the Apocalypse
  • The Age of Miracles
  • World of Trouble (The Last Policeman, #3)
  • In the Shadow of the Banyan
  • The Gone-Away World
  • Intrusion
  • Immobility
  • A Million Heavens
  • Soft Apocalypse
  • Life Among Giants
  • The Lighthouse Road
  • Shine Shine Shine
  • The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving
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...

Share This Book

“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.” 98 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.” 81 likes
More quotes…