The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

87%

20 Critic Reviews

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.
-Star Tribune

Synopsis

“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.
 

About Peter Heller

See more books from this 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, 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.
 
Published August 7, 2012 by Vintage. 337 pages
Genres: Action & Adventure, Literature & Fiction, Other, Science Fiction & Fantasy. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Sep 02 2012
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Critic reviews for The Dog Stars
All: 20 | Positive: 17 | Negative: 3

Publishers Weekly

Excellent
Jun 11 2012

From start to finish, Heller carries the reader aloft on graceful prose, intense action, and deeply felt emotion.

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Blog Critics

Above average
Reviewed by Bruce G. Smith on Apr 15 2014

The Dog Stars tells an entertaining story, containing all the essentials for an apocalyptic thriller. It has society ending disasters, violence, sex, and romance. Heller creates tension in all the correct places, but his science has some issues.

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Blog Critics

Good
Reviewed by Damon Isherwood on May 09 2013

The Dog Stars is...the story of Hig’s quixotic journey, and it is a story that has resonated deeply with readers around the world.

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NPR

Below average
Reviewed by Jennifer Reese on Aug 07 2012

There are some lively segments here...a less-than-realistic love story (from 300 feet away, Hig can tell that a woman has violet eyes?) and some bad boilerplate sex scenes...

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NY Journal of Books

Good
Reviewed by A. J. Kirby on Aug 07 2012

...is a heavenly book, a stellar achievement by a debut novelist that manages to combine sparkling prose with truly memorable, shining, characters. It contains constellations of grand images and ideas, gleams with vitality, and sparkles with wit.

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Star Tribune

Excellent
Reviewed by MICHELE FILGATE on Aug 04 2012

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.

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Toronto Star

Good
Reviewed by Michel Basilieres on Sep 01 2012

Heller's writing is powerful and elegant even when in the vernacular, and polished to a high degree. The narrator's voice comes through in all his sadness.

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Toronto Star

Excellent
Reviewed by Michel Basilieres on Sep 01 2012

Heller's writing is powerful and elegant even when in the vernacular, and polished to a high degree. The narrator's voice comes through in all his sadness.

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The Boston Globe

Excellent
Reviewed by Alan Cheuse on Aug 15 2012

In “The Dog Stars,’’ Peter Heller serves up an insightful account of physical, mental, and spiritual survival unfolded in dramatic and often lyrical prose, a difficult tale in which unexpected hope persistently flickers amid darkness.

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Dallas News

Excellent
Reviewed by Ron Hogan on Aug 17 2012

Though it is punctuated by intensely violent outbursts, once these recede into the background, Heller’s novel can approach moments of quiet, poetic beauty.

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San Francisco Chronicle

Excellent
Reviewed by Caroline Leavitt on Aug 08 2012

...there are moments of unexpected happiness...infused with love and hope, like the twinkling of a star we might wish upon, which makes this end-of-the-world novel more like a rapturous beginning.

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Open Letters Monthly

Excellent
Reviewed by Lisa Peet on Oct 09 2012

Hig’s voice, easygoing despite its choppy stream of consciousness, carries the story along with a good dark humor

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The Seattle Times

Below average
Reviewed by Moira Macdonald on Aug 10 2012

With its choppy sentence and paragraphs, and its way of drifting along with little happening for long stretches, "The Dog Stars" can lull a reader into complacency

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Review (Barnes & Noble)

Excellent
Reviewed by Sarah Courteau on Aug 08 2012

The Dog Stars is so entertaining – and often so very funny -- that it might be easy to overlook the larger questions that Heller cleverly puts into play about the value of human survival at the cost of near-total isolation.

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Denver Post

Excellent
Reviewed by Jason Blevins on Sep 23 2012

...it's his best work yet, combining his keen eye for details and his energetic writing with a gift for introspective storytelling.

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The Columbus Dispatch

Excellent
Reviewed by Margaret Quamme on Aug 05 2012

It’s a novel that gets under the skin of what it means to survive unbearable loss.

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Look At OKC

Excellent
Reviewed by Kay Dyer on Aug 12 2012

...suspenseful, full of action and hope, and a love story.

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Watermark Books And Cafe

Excellent
Reviewed by Bruce Jacobs

Heller brings Melville's broad, contemplative exploration of good and evil to his story and tells it in the spare, often disjunctive, language of Beckett.

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io9

Excellent
Reviewed by Charlie Jane Anders on Aug 23 2012

...not just a particularly intense post-apocalyptic tale, but also a great character study.

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Arts Sarasota

Excellent
Reviewed by Susan Rife on Sep 13 2012

There’s the necessary level of extreme violence one would expect in a post-apocalyptic world, but Heller also gives Hig a dreamer’s heart — one that dares, tentatively, to hope that better, or at least tolerable, days are ahead.

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Reader Rating for The Dog Stars
83%

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