The Dog Stars Hardcover – 7 Aug 2012
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About the Author
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, Mens Journal, and National Geographic Adventure, and a regular contributor to Bloomberg Businessweek. He is also the author of several nonfiction books, including Kook, The Whale Warriors, and Hell or High Water: Surviving Tibets Tsangpo River. He lives in Denver, Colorado.
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I would give this a solid 5 stars if it weren't for these 2 things...
The style of writing - it is really bad literature (I couldn't care less about things like this usually, but this is so obvious and annoying. It makes my failed gcse literature look really good lol), everything is in short sentences, without commas sometimes, and sometimes it feels like it just doesn't make sense... example "They were not even not pros. They were crouched together as one target at this distance one alone filled the scope, way more than filled it. They were farmers insurance men mechanics. Probably. Haplessly clustered. But. I shifted the scope, just the slightest pressure from the inside of my shoulder, and swept them and they had guns, each one."
I eventually stopped finding it as irratating once I imagined this is how the man, not the author talks.
The second thing, and this isn't much, is the constant references to different guns like saying guns are an AR-10.308, or M4 assault rifle etc. I know nothing about guns so don't know what they look like.
Despite these things, i really enjoyed it and think anyone into apocalyptic reads should not give this a miss.
First, it somehow manages to be genuinely life affirming. Often post-apocalyptic books just throw nasty stuff together to show how nasty the apocalypse would be and then the book ends. Job done. Heller weaves everything together to make sense. What seems like just a bunch of stuff happening to a guy waiting to die, actually forms a complete whole where our guy grows. One might even go so far as to say a novel. And a novel with a happy ending that makes you happy. If this sounds like I’m making a big deal out of nothing, then remember this is a book about the world ending. And what you do next.
Second, the important relationships don’t turn out to be the ones you think they are – or how you think they are – or… well, I guess I’m saying that the people and the relationships surprise you. The characters are much more complete than they initially seem to be, and that happens in a completely natural way. The lead character, who I found alienating on unlikeable, grows into something more alongside the people he meets, and one relationship in particular has turned on its head by the end of the book.
I still don’t really like the style and it still cuts a little too close to all the other post-apocalyptic novels out there (I’m aware there are plenty of people who like this much more than I) – this is no The Road. But it grows on you as it goes along, and it achieves something that genre rarely manages: it makes you feel better about the human race.
At first I thought the ‘writing’ was strange - couldn’t get to grips with ‘is Hig speaking or thinking’, but it did not take long to get used to it and eventually I liked it - it’s refreshingly different.
It’s a great story, thought provoking, definitely a realistic scenario.
Believable-violence (not Hollywood Rambo), excellent humour (in the right places).
Money well spent, hope for a sequel, meanwhile I will try another of the authors books.
The story follows Hig, a 40-year-old who was once a husband and expectant father living a perfectly normal life but due to a flu and blood virus that wiped out 99% or the world’s population 9 years earlier, he is now a widower and hunter. He lives out his days living in an airplane hangar along with his Cessna plane, his beloved dog Jasper and his survivalist neighbour Bangley. They have enough food and stores to survive for as long as they want, with Hig doing the occasional ‘shopping’ trip in the plane, but Hig is haunted by a voice that he heard on the radio a few years previously. This leads him to want to find out who the owner of the voice is, what might have happened to them, and to the world beyond his narrow confines. One day, Hig decides to venture out in the plane to a point of no return to see what else has survived in the world. He knows that he may run out of fuel and never make it back to Bangley but he wants to make the trip.
The story is told from in the first person in a sparse style and as previous reviewers have said, the narration of the book takes some getting used to. It took me to until about 30% through the book before I really started to enjoy it. I had thoughts of giving up (which I hate to do) but I am so glad that I persevered. This really becomes a heart-warming story with moments of sadness and humour and once you get through the first 3rd of the book, it hooks you in.