288 of 305 people found the following review helpful
"Is it possible to love so desperately that life is unbearable?",
This review is from: The Dog Stars (Hardcover)
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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. Hig's existential ramblings and thoughts while by himself also reminded me of Antoine de Saint Exupery's The Little Prince and Night Flight. This book is the definition of breathtaking. My only complaint is that there are not another 300 pages...too short. I hope Heller writes more fiction. I adored this book.
Highly recommend for fans of books like The Road by Cormac McCarthy, The Age Of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker and Earth Abides by George R. Stewart.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 28, 2012 2:39:54 PM PDT
Great review! Thanks :-).
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 15, 2014 10:11:13 AM PDT
Thanks for citing my favorite book (Earth Abides) and one of the toughest I have ever read (The Road). i immediately ordered The Age of Miracles based on your recommendation. I found The Dog Stars riveting, and i expect I will reread it in a few years. I go back to Earth Abides about every 5 years and have several lender copies for my friends here in North Berkeley. I imagine that some familiarity with Colorado would make Dog Stars even better. I had a pilot's license years ago, and the flying really rings true as well. Hig's inner life and emotions were unusually interesting, and the balance of action and reflection was right for me. Do you have another other reading recommendations? i am about to look for your other reviews as well. Thanks for this one!
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 17, 2014 9:25:02 AM PDT
Thank you so much for your kind comment!
I read a lot, but not all of my reviews are on Amazon. I usually post at least a rating, if not review on my Shelfari account, if you'd like to poke around there!
My son's 7th grade English teacher is actually having them read The Age of Miracles right now, which makes me pretty happy, since I love that book, and a lot of dystopian literature.
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 17, 2014 9:55:51 AM PDT
Thanks for turning me on to Shelfari--i've been a tepid user of Goodreads, same idea it seems. I too read "too much," about 100 books a year now that i've cut down on work hours and my child is a married adult. Have given much thought to why i (too) enjoy dystopian stories--the simpler life i guess. I would like more zombie/apocalyptic stuff without men needing war--it's a mystery. Female writers in the genre (Rhiannon Frater, Sophie Littlefield, Carrie Ryan) are more about survival and finding the right boy (so young adult--for your girls?). S.M. Stirling has a series with a female hero(ine) but battle ensues (I haven't read to the end of the series so maybe peace follows haha). My fave zombie writer is David Moody, where the end of the series answers some of the quest for meaning. Nice to meet you! i'm from Virginia, so we speak the same language : ) I like my Walking Dead with a cuppa coffee, so signing off. Thanks for your reply!
Posted on Jun 17, 2014 5:52:59 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Jun 17, 2014 5:54:49 AM PDT]
Posted on Jul 31, 2014 12:01:07 PM PDT
Desert Mambo says:
Great review, and your take on the novel was much like mine. There is something beautiful in this story of love of life and love of the world, even when it is so desperate. And at my age, I appreciate the bit of hope in the book too. to me that is what the book is about. Loss and longing, yes, and despair, but still with a bit of hope.
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