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The Dog Stars [Kindle Edition]

Peter Heller
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,075 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.95
Kindle Price: $8.26
You Save: $7.69 (48%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

“Leave it to Peter Heller to imagine a postapocalyptic world that contains as much loveliness as it does devastation. His hero, Hig, flies a 1956 Cessna (his dog as copilot) around what was once Colorado, chasing all the same things we chase in these pre-annihilation days: love, friendship, the solace of the natural world, and the chance to perform some small kindness. The Dog Stars is a wholly compelling and deeply engaging debut.” —Pam Houston, author of Contents May Have Shifted
 
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 to fish and to pretend that things are the way they used to be. But when a random transmission somehow beams through his radio, the voice ignites a hope deep inside him that a better life—something like his old life—exists beyond the airport. Risking everything, he flies past his point of no return—not enough fuel to get him home—following the trail of the static-broken voice on the radio. But what he encounters and what he must face—in the people he meets, and in himself—is both better and worse than anything he could have hoped for.

Narrated by a man who is part warrior and part dreamer, a hunter with a great shot and a heart that refuses to harden, The Dog Stars is both savagely funny and achingly sad, a breathtaking story about what it means to be human.

This ebook edition includes a Reading Group Guide.


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, August 2012: Adventure writer Peter Heller's The Dog Stars is a first novel set in Colorado after a superflu has culled most of humanity. A man named Hig lives in a former airport community--McMansions built along the edge of a runway--which he shares with his 1956 Cessna, his dog, and a slightly untrustworthy survivalist. Hig spends his days flying the perimeter, looking out for intruders and thinking about the things he's lost: his deceased wife, the nearly extinct trout he loved to fish. When a distant beacon sparks in him the realization that something better might be out there, it's only a matter of time before he goes searching. Poetic, thoughtful, and transformative, this novel is a rare combination of literary and highly readable. --Chris Schluep

Amazon Exclusive: Author Peter Heller on the Star of The Dog Stars

Jasper the Blue Heeler Mix
The inspiration for Jasper, a Blue Heeler mix, who is an integral part of this novel.

Our Hero, Hig, lives at a little country airstrip which he shares with his beloved blue heeler Jasper, and a mean gun nut named Bangley. It's nine years after a super-flu has killed 99.7% of the people on the planet. Hig sleeps out under the open sky at night with Jasper. He does it because he loves to see the stars, and because it's safer: if marauders come he won't be trapped in one of the nearby houses.

He used to have a book of the stars, but now he doesn't, so when he's lying out at night he makes up constellations. Mostly they are animals, and he makes one for his best friend Jasper. The Dog Stars. It's Hig's way of reinventing the lost world, and keeping in touch with the things he loves.

Jasper, to me, is the star of the book. He is fiercely loyal, and he gives Hig something to live for when there is not much else to hold on to.

Review

'The Road - but with hope' -- GQ 'Magical and life-affirming' -- Guardian 'Sad, but hopeful... A perfectly pitched post-apocalyptic tale of survival and emotional sustenance in a changed world' -- Marie Claire 'A poetic, moving and ultimately rewarding read' -- SFX 'Incredibly believable...brutally honest' -- Sci-Fi Now 'A dreamy, postapocalyptic love letter to things of beauty, big and small: a twitching trout, a can of Sprite, empathy, sex, decency, and a good dog' -- Gillian Flynn, author of GONE GIRL 'The Road crossed with a post-apocalyptic romance...[engages] deep emotions to spine-chilling (and suspenseful) effect' -- Lawrence Norfolk, Guardian Books of the Year

Product Details

  • File Size: 1370 KB
  • Print Length: 337 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0307950476
  • Publisher: Vintage (August 7, 2012)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007GZELF2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,575 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
268 of 282 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This novel was so lovely and poetic, a post apocalyptic story reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy's The Road, but a very different story at the same time. Hig, the narrator, is a man who has survived a flu pandemic, that has changed life in the United States as we know it completely, wiping out most of the population. Those who have survived seem to be subject to some kind of contagious auto-immune disorder of the blood as well, that has continued to decimate the population, and a certain amount of climate change has become noticeable as well.

Hig is a very sad man, having lost his wife, but he appreciates the quietness of this new world. He is a gardener and a hunter, and has a strong relationship with the natural world around him, as well as his dog, Jasper, his little airplane (The Beast) and Bangley, his neighbor in their isolated outpost. Bangley loves guns, and does a great job of protecting them from the occasional marauders looking for, well, anything they can get their hands on (food, weapons, etc.), and willing to kill (and die) to get it.

Hig is tortured by a call over an airport he heard a few years back, while out in his plane one day. Should he risk it all to try and find other survivors, when just seeing another human being now almost requires 'a shoot first and ask questions later' attitude? Hig does not embrace that attitude, although Bangley, an older man, insists it is the only way to survive. Hig needs more from this life. He sets out to find more after a revelatory week alone in the forest.

This was a heartrendingly beautiful story. The writing is wonderful, Heller's descriptions of nature and of the human condition are gorgeous and moving.
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199 of 208 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Once everything ends you are no more free. July 8, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is the only thing I want to say about the story of this book. It is post-apocalyptic. If that appeals to you, don't hesitate. Beyond that, no need to even read the jacket copy; just let the book surprise you.

There were three ways this book could have gone awry for me.

1. First and most obviously - it is post apocalyptic fiction and I've read a TON of it. At this point, if you are going to tackle this topic, it had better be special. This was.

2. The manner in which the story was told. It was definitely a non-traditional narrative which could have backfired, but it didn't. Instead, it gave the book intimacy.

3. Writing style. This really could have been a issue for me, it's gotten to be a pet peeve of mine. Authors deliberately leaving out words as a style choice. Difficulty getting the hang. Missing words. Read it anyway. Could have ruined it. Writing like that drives me BATTY. But, it worked here for a couple reasons. The author didn't write exclusively like that, so you might have "Walked on the trail. I ran into Jeff on the way." The economy of the language really gave a feel for the economy of the time, and it was the language that most logically suited the structure of the novel. I have to hand it to Heller, I think he achieved a good balance.

The writing is so good! Evocative. I know that I will see glimpses of this book in my mind's eye for days to come.

The characters were well constructed and really interesting. The relationship dynamics most of all.

There was emotion and the sense of loneliness and futility was conveyed without throwing it in your face.

It was tender and harsh, funny and sad, at times edge of your seat suspenseful. I found it as powerful as The Road; but without the bleakness.

I loved it.
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Apocalypse Wow July 9, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
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 descriptions, 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.

There's something here for everyone. At times, it is one creepy and violent thriller. But at other times, like when protagonist Hig takes to the mountain streams with his faithful dog, Jasper, it reads like Hemingway. It's almost as if a public service announcer says, "We interrupt this dystopian nightmare to treat you to a Big Two-Hearted River moment." And then: "Now back to our regularly-scheduled apocalyptic mess." Then there is the turn the novel takes in its second half -- the addition of a romantic element, like an echo from Hig's burnt past. All this, yet Heller keeps it together and makes it fit.

To start, we have Hig and his ruthless partner-in-survival, the appropriately-named Bruce Bangley. With his old Cessna, Hig is able to tour the perimeter of the extensive grounds he, Bangley, and Jasper protect from survivors of (what else?) a killer flu pandemic. And what a pair. Where Bangley seems to kill with joy, Hig appears to kill under duress and despite his aversion to it. Both killers, though. By necessity. Only one has a poet's conscience.

Stylistically, the book has its quirks, too. You won't find any quotation marks, for one. Victims of the pandemic, I guess.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The aftermath of a devastating war on the survivors.
A different type of book for me, but I did like it. The book occurs after a fictional devastating war. Read more
Published 18 hours ago by Linda H. LaCroix
5.0 out of 5 stars One of My Favorite Stories
Sad story that is the most real post apocalyptic story I have read. It was a great human story. Heller has squarely deposited himself in my favorite authors list with this story... Read more
Published 1 day ago by G. Porter
4.0 out of 5 stars The best and worst of human nature
Great book. Heller has a unique style. You either love it or can't deal with it. I read the Painter and now this. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Grant Cooper
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting until the End
unfortunately, this ended quite abruptly, and a little too happy for my liking. character developments went in an expected direction for the most part.
Published 1 day ago by S. M. Brunt
1.0 out of 5 stars Required far too much effort to read. Juice isn't worth the squeeze.
Nope. Not great. Had a hard time. Distinguishing. Are those separate ideas? Or one complete sentence. Broken into fourteen different parts? Very slow moving. Move at all. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Tyler
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read!
Book reminds me of Alas Babylon, a book I read many years ago. Improbable storyline but fascinating nevertheless. Great read for anyone who likes survival stories. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Roberta Hoffer
4.0 out of 5 stars This is a very fine novel about post-apocalyptic United States...
This is a very fine novel about post-apocalyptic United States following a disease pandemic. The few who survived were immune to the disease. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Barbara Reid
5.0 out of 5 stars DAMN. THAT WAS AWESOME
I read a lot of reviews of this book before I gave in and bought it, but I am sure glad that I finally did. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Hunter Barcroft
5.0 out of 5 stars Heller is a wonderful writer. His prose is exquisite
I don't normally read dystopian novels, but this was assigned by my book club.

It's a first rate work. Heller is a wonderful writer. His prose is exquisite. Read more
Published 6 days ago by Pamela R Winnick
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun read
After living in Colorado, it was nice to be zipping around the state when the world as we know it has ended. It was a fun read.
Published 7 days ago by Flip513
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More About the Author

Peter Heller is a longtime contributor to NPR, a contributing editor at Outside Magazine and Men's Journal, and a frequent contributor to Businessweek. He is an award winning adventure writer and the author of four books of literary nonfiction. He lives in Denver. Heller was born and raised in New York. He attended high school in Vermont and Dartmouth College in New Hampshire where he became an outdoorsman and whitewater kayaker. He traveled the world as an expedition kayaker, writing about challenging descents in the Pamirs, the Tien Shan mountains, the Caucuses, Central America and Peru.At the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where he received an MFA in fiction and poetry, he won a Michener fellowship for his epic poem "The Psalms of Malvine." He has worked as a dishwasher, construction worker, logger, offshore fisherman, kayak instructor, river guide, and world class pizza deliverer. Some of these stories can be found in Set Free in China, Sojourns on the Edge. In the winter of 2002 he joined, on the ground team, the most ambitious whitewater expedition in history as it made its way through the treacherous Tsangpo Gorge in Eastern Tibet. He chronicled what has been called The Last Great Adventure Prize for Outside, and in his book Hell or High Water: Surviving Tibet's Tsangpo River.

The gorge -- three times deeper than the Grand Canyon -- is sacred to Buddhists, and is the inspiration for James Hilton's Shangri La. It is so deep there are tigers and leopards in the bottom and raging 25,000 foot peaks at the top, and so remote and difficult to traverse that a mythical waterfall, sought by explorers since Victorian times, was documented for the first time in 1998 by a team from National Geographic.

The book won a starred review from Publisher's Weekly, was number three on Entertainment Weekly's "Must List" of all pop culture, and a Denver Post review ranked it "up there with any adventure writing ever written."

In December, 2005, on assignment for National Geographic Adventure, he joined the crew of an eco-pirate ship belonging to the radical environmental group the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society as it sailed to Antarctica to hunt down and disrupt the Japanese whaling fleet.

The ship is all black, sails under a jolly Roger, and two days south of Tasmania the engineers came on deck and welded a big blade called the Can Opener to the bow--a weapon designed to gut the hulls of ships. In The Whale Warriors: The Battle at the Bottom of the World to Save the Planet's Largest Mammals, Heller recounts fierce gales, forty foot seas, rammings, near-sinkings, and a committed crew's clear-eyed willingness to die to save a whale. The book was published by Simon and Schuster's Free Press in September, 2007.

In the fall of 2007 Heller was invited by the team who made the acclaimed film The Cove to accompany them in a clandestine filming mission into the guarded dolphin-killing cove in Taiji, Japan. Heller paddled into the inlet with four other surfers while a pod of pilot whales was being slaughtered. He was outfitted with a helmet cam, and the terrible footage can be seen in the movie. The Cove went on to win an Academy Award. Heller wrote about the experience for Men's Journal.

Heller's most recent memoir, about surfing from California down the coast of Mexico, Kook: What Surfing Taught Me about Love, Life, and Catching the Perfect Wave, was published by The Free Press in 2010. Can a man drop everything in the middle of his life, pick up a surfboard and, apprenticing himself to local masters, learn to ride a big, fast wave in six months? Can he learn to finally love and commit to someone else? Can he care for the oceans, which are in crisis? The answers are in. The book won a starred review from Publisher's Weekly, which called it a "powerful memoir...about love: of a woman, of living, of the sea." It also won the National Outdoor Book Award for Literature.

Heller's debut novel, The Dog Stars, is being published by Knopf in August, 2012. It will also be published by Headline Review in Great Britain and Australia, and Actes Sud in France.

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