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The Dog Stars Audible – Unabridged

4.3 out of 5 stars 1,542 customer reviews

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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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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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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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