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The Dog Stars

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  46,317 ratings  ·  6,407 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
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Miscellaneous Allie 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)

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3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  46,317 ratings  ·  6,407 reviews

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Mar 23, 2013 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
Nov 18, 2014 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.

Aug 25, 2012 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
Jul 08, 2012 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.
Aug 14, 2012 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
Mar 17, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: american, sci-fi
Apocalyptic Pointlessness

Reading The Dog Stars Is like riding in a car with someone who is learning to drive. Lots of jerky shifts, stops, starts, long pauses, and stalls. Meanwhile listening to a constant stream of reminiscence and emotional brain-dump that is intended to camouflage the lack of driving experience. And not going anywhere in particular, of course.

I’m sure this is a tale meant for a specialised redneck niche (they read but mouth their words) - backwoods pilot and handyman teams up
Elyse Walters
Jan 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"I knew Bangley well enough that he'd had enough killing in one night not to fuck
with my dog".
But......why kill anyone is what I kept thinking? Even in a post apocalyptic world?
......Yes, I had the conversation with Paul - he tried to explain to me why, but I still feel angry.
I HAVE A DIFFERENT MIND SET than automatically killing off people.
Lots of profanity...
Lots of stream-of-thoughts...
A man and his dog....
Dog dies.
Nut gun man.
Airplane, fishing, cooking, a love story. Colorado.
I have a
Richard Derus
Apr 21, 2013 rated it liked it
Reluctant 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
Jonathan Ashleigh
Feb 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: recent
I have, for whatever reason, ended up reading a lot of books that take place in Colorado lately. The Dog Stars was recommended to me for that very reason but the first thing I noticed when I picked it up was that the cover resembled one of my favorite books, The Sorrows of Young Mike (also by a Colorado author).

The writing style was tough at times but worked in some way to convey the harshness of life during this apocalyptic future. The flow became better as the story moved along or possibly I
Joe Valdez
Dec 30, 2013 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
Aug 18, 2012 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
Charlie Quimby
Jan 22, 2013 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
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
Global pandemic, lots of people dead, survivors surviving and unsuccessful survivors acting badly.

Got it.

I’m going to be brutally honest and maybe a little mean and say that I don’t know why this is popular and why it has received stellar reviews. It was nominated for several awards, and I just don’t see it.

The post-apocalyptic genre is swelled to bursting and yet writers and publishers keep shelling out offerings like a churro vendor on a sidewalk. You’ve got to have something really special t
May 10, 2013 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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2012, e-books
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
Stephanie *Very Stable Genius*
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
Dec 14, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: dystopia
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
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
Oct 13, 2012 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
Oct 11, 2012 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 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dystopia
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
Sep 16, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
In the beginning there was Fear. Not so much the flu by then, by then I walked. I talked. Not so much talked, but of sound body - and of mind, you be the judge. Two straight weeks of fever, three days 104 to 105. I know it cooked my brains...

I don't want to be confused: we are nine years out. 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.

His name is Hig and he settles to the te
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
Dec 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-of-2017
For one of my reading challenges I had the option to read a book with a plane on the cover. I put a bunch of books on hold at the library and The Dog Stars came in first. I've been on a genre kick lately so I was a little concerned about diving back into literary fiction, especially one that I randomly picked out because it happened to have a drawing of an airplane on its cover.

After reading this? I feel like it was fate for me to read.

The Dog Stars has now become one of my favorite books of all
Jan 31, 2013 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
Aug 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: apocalyptic
Wow!!!! 4,5 stars. Review to follow, but 'd*mn', wow! Recommended, also as contender as book of the year 2013.... more to follow. Poetic, raw, sensitive, shocking, apocalyptic, can it be combined? yes.....
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
While the background story is post apocalyptic, the story for me centered around Hig, his love for Jasper, and even his somewhat convoluted love for his one friend left in the world, someone he probably would never have befriended in the "real" world. It's about relationships, how and where we find them, and what happens when your world falls apart and the relationships you counted on to see you through until the end of time are gone.

Heller's writing is frequently beautiful, poignant. I loved t
Jun 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
My husband didn’t care for this novel much but I really enjoyed it. Hig’s life in the post-apocalyptic America was always sensually vivid to me. I loved the descriptions of him flying his Cessna aircraft, his relationship with his dog, the tension of his fights with murderous intruders, the thorny relationship with his macho misanthropic neighbour. Granted the fragmented prose style takes a little getting used to and maybe there’s some cheese later in the novel but all in all a great read.
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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
“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.” 114 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.” 96 likes
More quotes…