Penny's Reviews > The Dog Stars

The Dog Stars by Peter Heller
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Jul 06, 14

bookshelves: books-i-coudn-t-finish
Read from September 08 to 13, 2012

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."


"But."


"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 places defining the spurs and ridges and foothills the way creases define the planes of a face, lower down the canyon cuts, and then the swales and valleys of the lowest slops, the sinuous rivers and dry beds where water used to run seeming to hold the hills and the waves of the high planes all together and not the other way around."


I was interested to find out what happened to Hig and his dog, but not enough to wade my way through that mess.










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Comments (showing 1-34 of 34) (34 new)

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Anastasia Sing it, sister! I'm right there with you. There's no reason this kind of crappy writing should get published.


David I respect your opinion, but couldn't the same argument be made against most modern poetry, rap music, and the Hebrew Bible? Which, after all, contains neither vowels nor any punctuation.

Furthermore, let's then ban all books having dialetic speech, including all the works from Samuel Clemens, Joel Chandler Harris, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and so many others?

I do empathize, I wanted to give it up -- but I am very pleased to have persevered.


Penny Well as far as publication goes (comment 1), that is up to someone else. As far as comparing it to modern poetry etc.... If I want to have to interpret something I will pick up a book of poems or philosphy, etc. Not a novel where I want to lose myself in the story. I was fighting through those first 100 or so pages.


Diablo943 Society fell apart. The end of the world. Overwhelming loneliness. The line between thought and speech blurred by the trauma of surviving and having to survive. Peter's writing reflected that perfectly. It was hard to read. And worth the effort. Like every day for Hig.


Penny Maria, sorry I deleted you comment by accident, but listening to the audio version is a great idea. Thanks!


Maria No problem. :)


Nicole I so agree with you on this. I'm reading all these 5 star reviews and wondering if I read the same book!


message 8: by John (new)

John Montgomery Didn't find it all that difficult to get used to...and I'm dyslexic :)


message 9: by Kathy (last edited Jan 26, 2013 01:10PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kathy listen to the audio version - you would never know it was anything but conventional writing.


message 10: by Ita (new) - rated it 2 stars

Ita I'm halfway through listening to it and still waiting for the plot.


Diane Brodie Penny and Anastasia, sometimes people write a certain way on purpose, not because they don't know how. Have you read or maybe tried to read Kerouac? Is his writing a mess and shouldn't be published either? I can see not liking the style of this book but I personally found a lot of the writing to be quite beautiful.


message 12: by Penny (new) - rated it 1 star

Penny If you read my review and comments you will see I never mentioned if this book should be published. I stated my opinion that this writing style drove me crazy and that I did not think finding out what happened was worth my time fighting through it.


message 13: by K (new) - rated it 1 star

K I'm glad you wrote this review, because I'm only 19 pages into the book and already going crazy with the writing style. I was looking to see if anyone still felt that way about books or if the whole world has just adopted the "poetic license way of life." Thank you!


message 14: by Penny (new) - rated it 1 star

Penny You are welcome K. Sometimes it's difficult to write a not-so-glowing review on GoodReads when others are so eager to tear you a new one. I try to never be too harsh or personal with a review, just let others know what I did or did not like about it.


message 15: by Kelly (new) - rated it 1 star

Kelly Could not agree more. I'm on page 41. This is painful.


message 16: by Mo (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mo Bremner I liked this writing style. It was different but interesting. Different stories told...differently.


Jgfunk It did take me a while to get used to the writing style. However, I'm glad that I stuck with it. I enjoyed the story and was racing towards the end. Effing Bangley.


message 18: by Kim (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kim Roberts I am at the very end but pretty much hated it! I can't stand the style of writing.


message 19: by Paul (new) - rated it 1 star

Paul Hollowell OMG, yes! I stopped after the first few pages gave me a massive headache.


message 20: by Dave (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dave Hig says near the beginning of the book that some where along the line he lost a screw. I found the style of writing represented this very well. I believe it was meant to be disjointed and jumping around. He has suffered so much and is quiet probably not all there. All I can say is stick with it. I thought it was a great book.


message 21: by Jen (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jen I'm having a hard time getting through this as well. The style of writing doesn't really help with the storyline. It just distracts you from it. Totally agree on not being able to get lost in it.. very tempted to return it to the library!


Kennie I said the same thing! I just couldn't finish it because the writing style was driving me bat crap crazy.


Murray I can understand why the style is off-putting and sympathize. I felt the same way for a chapter or two. Then I was able get into the swing of it. I enjoyed the book very much at the end, feeling that since he had no one to talk to we had to read his thoughts as they occurred. Not quite stream of consciousness but almost. I love to listen to valid opinions different than mine.


message 24: by Penny (new) - rated it 1 star

Penny Well Murray, I am glad someone enjoyed it. I never went back to it, but if I ever do, I will definitely try the audio version instead.


Janice Boychuk Penny, couldn't have said it better... And forget the audio version - I've managed to get through 7 of 9 disks so far and I'm STILL waiting for the purpose to the story. The narrator reads it like the book, constantly pausing, drives me nuts! He could have read it in a lot less time so my pain is less prolonged LOL. I will finish it only because I'm this far - and see if it was worth it after all.


message 26: by Penny (new) - rated it 1 star

Penny Well, make sure you let us know Janice!


Janice Boychuk Well, I'm more relieved than satisfied upon finishing this book! Many times I contemplated quitting but stuck it out... Ugh, yawn, such a lunch bag letdown. It had its moments, but very few and far between. If Hig said "what" one more time I thought I'd go batty! So definitely not memorable nor a recommendation from me. Based on other reviews, I think it's a love/hate; you either like it or not.


Hayley Fleischman I got used to the style after a while, but for the longest time this drove me CRAZY! I felt like I was translating from another language.


The Indie Bob Spot I guess misery loves company. I really wanted to like this book since it was recommended to me by a couple of indie staffers. But, ugh. Just too darn disjunct. And it seemed like there were many incomplete. Sentences.


message 30: by Ryan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ryan Sobb It's stylistic and thoughtful. Read Dan Brown. For you.


message 31: by Penny (new) - rated it 1 star

Penny Wow I didn't realize my opinion on writing style would garner such a condescending comment. Although I am not a particular fan, I wouldn't be so pretentious as to make the comment "read Dan Brown" into an insult.


Robert Fath The writing style is intentional. The main character suffered brain damage from the flu. His thoughts and speech are disjointed as a result. I thought this was spelled out in the book.


message 33: by Mac (new)

Mac van Leeuwen The first few pages I was struggling to get through. It was absolutely my grandmother's review that kept me trekking through (I respect her literary opinion more than anyone else's). I am now ~200 pages in. And OH MY GOD this is going to be one of my favorite books of all time, I can just tell. I have completely moved past the weird writing - it's an acquired taste, like philosophy, I've found - and just gotten into the story and the beauty of it all.


Britany This is one of those books you will either love or hate. The writing style is a bit difficult in the beginning, but it's written that way for a reason. Hig had the flu, survived, but the fever messed with him. Not to mention he's spent 9 years with one other person who isn't big on conversation and a dog.

I honestly picked this off the discount shelf on a whim. I got 50 pages in and put it down for a while (which isn't something I do, I usually finish books in a day). I wasn't sure if I could give this one another shot, but I did and I finished it the same day I started reading again.

It definitely isn't for everyone, but what is?


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