Other Sellers on Amazon
+ Free Shipping
+ Free Shipping
The Dog Stars (Vintage Contemporaries) Paperback – May 7, 2013
|New from||Used from|
An Amazon Book with Buzz: "Sweet Sorrow" by David Nicholls
"With fully fleshed-out characters, terrific dialogue, bountiful humor, and genuinely affecting scenes, this is really the full package of a rewarding, romantic read."—Booklist Learn more
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Frequently bought together
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
A San Francisco Chronicle and Atlantic Monthly Best Book of the Year
“Extraordinary. . . . One of those books that makes you happy for literature.” —Junot Díaz, The Wall Street Journal
“This end-of-the-world novel [is] more like a rapturous beginning. . . . Remarkable.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“For all those who thought Cormac McCarthy’s The Road the last word on the post-apocalyptic world—think again. . . . Make time and space for this savage, tender, brilliant book.” —Glen Duncan, author of The Last Werewolf
“Heart-wrenching and richly written. . . . The Dog Stars is a love story, but not just in the typical sense. It’s an ode to friendship between two men, a story of the strong bond between a human and a dog, and a reminder of what is worth living for.” —Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“A dreamy, postapocalyptic love letter to things of beauty, big and small.” –Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl
"Heartbreaking" —The Seattle Times
“A brilliant success.” —The New Yorker
“Beautifully written and morally challenging” –The Atlantic Monthly
“A book that rests easily on shelves with Dean Koontz, Jack London or Hemingway." —The Missourian
"Dark, poetic, and funny." —Jennifer Reese, NPR
“Terrific. . . . Recalling the bleakness of Cormac McCarthy and the trout-praising beauty of David James Duncan, The Dog Stars makes a compelling case that the wild world will survive the apocalypse just fine; it’s the humans who will have the heavy lifting.” —Outside
“A post-apocalyptic adventure novel with the soul of haiku.” —The Columbus Dispatch
“An elegy for a lost world turns suddenly into a paean to new possibilities. In The Dog Stars, Peter Heller serves up an insightful account of physical, mental, and spiritual survival unfolded in dramatic and often lyrical prose.” —The Boston Globe
“Take the sensibility of Hemingway. Or James Dickey. Place it in a world where a flu mutation has wiped out ninety-nine percent of the population. Add in a heartbroken man with a fishing rod, some guns, a small plane. Don’t forget the dog. Now imagine this man retains more hope than might be wise in such a battered and brutal time. More trust. More hunger for love—more capacity for it, too. That’s what Peter Heller has given us in his beautifully written first novel.” —Scott Smith, author of A Simple Plan and The Ruins
“With its evocative descriptions of hunting, fishing, and flying, [The Dog Stars], perhaps the world’s most poetic survival guide, reads as if Billy Collins had novelized one of George Romero’s zombie flicks.” —Publishers Weekly (starred)
“The Dog Stars can feel less like a 21st-century apocalypse and more like a 19th-century frontier narrative (albeit one in which many, many species have become extinct). There are echoes of Grizzly Adams or Jeremiah Johnson in scenes where Heller lingers on the details of how the water in a flowing stream changes color as the sun moves across the sky.” —The Dallas Morning News
“Full of action and hope…. One you’ll not soon forget.” — The Oklahoman
“A heavenly book, a stellar achievement by a debut novelist that manages to combine sparkling prose with truly memorable, shining, characters.” —The New York Journal of Books
“Gruff, tormented and inspirational, Heller has the astonishing ability to make you laugh, cringe and feel ridiculously vulnerable throughout the novel that will have you rereading certain passages with a hard lump in the pit of your stomach. One of the most powerful reads in years.” —Playboy
“The Dog Stars is a wholly compelling and deeply engaging debut.” —Pam Houston, author of Contents May Have Shifted
“Beautiful, haunting and hopeful. . . . Makes your breath catch and your heart ache.” —Aspen Daily News
“At times funny, at times thrilling, at times simply heartbreaking and always rich with a love of nature, The Dog Stars finds a peculiar poetry in deciding that there’s really no such thing as the end of the world—just a series of decisions about how we live in whatever world we’ve got.” —Salt Lake City Weekly
“What separates Heller’s book from other End of Days stories is that it doesn’t rely on the thematic fail-safes to tell the story—The Dog Stars is quite simply the story of what it’s like to be alonet.” —The Stranger
“Proves a truth we know from our everyday nonfictional lives: Even when it seems like all the humans in the world are only out for themselves, there are always those few who prove you absolutely wrong—in the most surprising of ways.” —Oprah.com
“Heller has created a heartbreakingly moving love story. . . . It’s an ode to what we’ve lost so far, and how we risk losing everything.” —Cincinnati City Beat
“A stunning, hope-riddled end-of-the-world story. . . . Bound to become a classic.” —Flavorwire
“Heller’s writing gives you a heartbreaking jolt, like a sudden wakening from a dream.” —The Seattle Times
“Heller is a masterful storyteller and The Dog Stars is a beautiful tribute to the resilience of nature and the relentless human drive to find meaning and deep connections with life and the living.” —Julianna Baggott, author of Pure
“Terrific . . . With echoes of Moby Dick, The Dog Stars . . . brings Melville’s broad, contemplative exploration of good and evil to his story.” —Shelf Awareness
“Heller’s surprising and irresistible blend of suspense, romance, social insight, and humor creates a cunning form of cognitive dissonance neatly pegged by Hig as an ‘apocalyptic parody of Norman Rockwell’—a novel, that is, of spiky pleasure and signal resonance.” —Booklist (starred)
About the Author
PETER HELLER is the best-selling author of three novels, including The Painter and Celine. He holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop in both fiction and poetry. An award-winning adventure writer and a 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 author of several nonfiction books, including Kook,The Whale Warriors, and Hell or High Water: Surviving Tibet's Tsangpo River. He lives in Denver, Colorado.
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
“… at night you can’t bear to hear your own breath unaccompanied by another … The Pain is lying beside your side, close. Does not bother you with the sound even of breathing.” ‒ from THE DOG STARS
“I still dream Jasper is alive. Before that my heart will not go.” ‒ from THE DOG STARS
“I’d say it was a relief to have at last nothing, but I was too hollow to register relief, too empty to carry it … Nothing to lose is so empty, so light, that the sand you crumble to at last blows away in a gust, so insubstantial it’s carried upwards to shirr into the sandstorm of the stars. That’s where we all get to. The rest is just wearing thin waiting for wind.” ‒ from THE DOG STARS
The world in Peter Heller’s THE DOG STARS is a post-apocalyptic one. The United States, and presumably the rest of Earth, has been drastically depopulated by a variant strain of influenza, and many of the survivors struck with a blood and body fluid-born disease that causes a slow, wasting death. All this against the background, apparently, of a climate warming that’s killing off other species.
Heller’s hero here, known only to the readers as Hig, who avoided both illnesses, lives at an abandoned rural airstrip north of Denver. Hig’s only neighbor is Bangley, a personally uncommunicative older man, a weapons enthusiast, and a firearm’s marksman. Bangley is a take-no-prisoners survivalist whose working philosophy is to shoot any and all intruders who trespass into a defensive perimeter routinely patrolled by Hig in a Cessna 182. While Hig sees the necessity for an association with Bangley and his precautions, the harshness and bareness of the relationship is excoriating the humanity from the former’s soul.
Then, Hig suffers a loss which compels him to re-establish his connection with what may remain of his own diminishing humanity.
THE DOG STARS is perhaps the best novel I’ve read in many months.
The author’s ability to portray, from the perspective of Hig’s stream of consciousness - a narrative device which some reviewers don't appreciate - and experiences, the solitude and despair of an inner Aloneness and a resurrection from such is what makes the story a triumph of writing.
Man is a social animal. To think and/or attempt to live otherwise is an ultimately destructive folly. That is the great lesson of THE DOG STARS.
When I read this book, I was reminded of Tolstoy's line - "There is nothing great where truth, simplicity, and beauty are not present." This book hits all three, although they come in atypical and, at times, devastating forms. There are passages in this book that are more beautiful, more achingly honest, about true loss than almost anything else I have read, and they are all the more powerful because of the poetic simplicity of the prose, the sparing and economical word choice - the feeling you get that if anything else was said, it would not only be nonessential or redundant, it could finally crush the spirit beyond the possibility of recovery.
This book reminds you that the end of the world is not only a subjective expression but a completely subjective feeling; for some, the end is not real at all, for some the end happens nearly immediately, and for a few, the end doesn't happen until the person they are is gone and the reason for continuing to struggle to live is merely due to "curiosity." A chilling reason, but perhaps accurate. The mundane everyday drudgery is punctuated by sudden moments of pure horror, disgust, and savagery. During the span of one evening reading this book, I nearly vomited and then later cried harder than I would like to admit.
Some have complained about the clipped, stream-of-consciousness style of storytelling, but I think that is apropos for this tale. After all, when the end comes for the world and pretty much everyone is gone, what else would you have to hear, or listen to, than your own thoughts?
If all civilization came to a shuddering stop, what would enable the survivors to survive long-term? Would it be the homicidal ape that we are, the ability to kill and trap resources the most effectively, or would it be the better angels of our nature? Would it be the willingness to drop the gun, drop the sword, even if we had every reason to shoot or stab? What would really keep us alive? Perhaps more important, what would make us want to keep living?
I hope you have as rewarding an experience reading this book as I did. It will crush you, it will disturb you, but it will also lift you up- maybe you will even soar.
Top international reviews
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.
I approached this book with trepidation as I started, but after a couple of chapters I found myself being pulled into the world of 'Higs' present life and for the first time in a while, I became fascinated by the written-style. A style at first that is slightly difficult to comprehend but improves with time.
The less you know about the plot, the more impressive is the impact of the story. The basic necessities are that 'Higs' and Bangley have miraculously survived a virus that has reduced the world to a very low number of a population. But Higs knows how to fly a small aircraft and maybe because of this talent, he has a different perspective of the situation.
Peter Heller manages to convey a poetic approach to making this story work so well. This is a book to pay attention to, it's very carefully written and caused this particular reader to be in awe of a master of the written word. I adored this book and it makes it's valid points well throughout the story. Highly recommended.
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.
If you meet someone, when to trust them? And how about you decide to join up but you don't like that person?
How would you spend your day? Apart from survival, what is your pleasure, your vacation?
What would you eat? The animals you could handle are dead. Would you be able to make flour for bread, press oil or make butter? And where to get that information without the internet. Even if you walk for miles under danger in order to find a bookshop in a small town, would that be the book you pick up and carry back with you (providing they stock it).
Petrol goes "stale", even tins are not safe anymore past a few years.
Alone, lonely, talking to yourself, you, your old dog and a gun loving buddy, a loner.
Sentences in your head are mixed up, they jump from word to word and don't seem to join together (no, this time it is not Amazon`s atrocious editing of kindle books, this time it is the author.
You are hungry for words, one friendly normal familiar voice.
What would be the point of living?
It is a very powerful book and a great analogy for everyday loneliness. Even if you are surrounded by people.
The plot is simple (after all it is ten years since society broke down, there isn’t much to do!) but the story is well told and the characters have plenty of depth, so you feel an empathy with them. The only thing I didn’t like about this book was the writing style. It is written in the first person and not always in complete sentences.
I enjoyed this book – if I could give half star ratings I would give 3.5/5 because the writing style did grate a little bit (but it is a fantastic way to pad out space in a book if you are an author…)
The narrator, Hig, is a thoughtful yet grounded character, full of humanity and clearly capable of great love - yet with only a dog to lavish it on. His background as a carpenter, hunter, fisherman and poet serves him well in a desolate landscape peopled with terrifying marauders and a lone neighbour, the near-psychopathic survivalist Bangley, who has a policy of shooting first and asking questions later.
I found Hig's desperate foray into unknown territory in an ancient Cessna plane, and the discoveries he brings home, deeply involving, and it all left me wanting more - but in the very best way. The ending is beautifully nuanced, with Heller cleverly planting the seeds of what's to come without spelling too much out, so that the reader has the joy of "deciding" Hig's future. This is without doubt one of the best novels I have read all year.
Come the apocalypse i think I will run towards the first bullet come to get me ....I don't think I have the capability to live in constant fear that kill or be killed mentality .
Much to think about too .
The human condition .
Wonderfully descriptive but never wordy or over written.
Suspenseful and touching.
I will definitely be looking for more by this author....the sooner the better!
It's obvious that the writing style is intensely irritating to some but once I got used to it (took about 10 pages) it was brilliant, kind of like following Hig's thoughts rather than reading a story. I thought the characters were well developed and despite the horrible things they are forced to do, they were sympathetic and realistic.
This is no mad max, no world full of vampires or zombies, but a believable post apocalyptic world and a tale of the survival of ordinary but remarkable people.
I loved it.