So I wonder what it is this need to tell. To animate somehow the deathly stillness of the profoundest beauty. Breathe life in the telling. Counter I guess to Bangley’s modus which is to kill just about everything that moves. – from Dog Stars, page 52 –
The world is not the same. A flu has wiped out 99 percent of all humans. The few remaining are fighting (quite literally) for survival. Enter Hig, a man who has lost his wife and unborn child and now lives in an abandoned hanger with his dog, Jasper, and a rough, gun toting survivalist named Bangley. Hig’s biggest joy is taking flight in a 1956 Cessna with his dog by his side. He loves breaking free of the confines of the airport. When he is not flying, he longs to walk into the forest and fish and hunt. But danger is everywhere. Hig never loses hope that there is more out there – love, friendship and the nature he so misses. So one day, he takes off in the Cessna and flies to the point of no return to try and discover a life he misses beyond all else.
Peter Heller has penned a spare, first person narrative about nature vs. technology, survival, memory and love. Hig is a character who reels the reader into his grief and loneliness…and then shows her there is still hope.
This novel is not simply a post-apocalyptic novel. Heller’s astute observations of nature and his poetic introspection into his characters elevate this book to a thoughtful, heartbreaking literary work. Hig mines his emotional territory with reflections of the past and the memories of those who died. His relationship with Jasper is one of the best parts of the book and demonstrates how love (no matter where it comes) can lift one up and give meaning to life.
The Dog Stars is one of the best books I read in 2014 – calamity, desperation…and finally a burst of hope that promises new beginnings. Tender, brilliantly penned, and a reminder that connection to others is what the world is all about, this is a novel that will appeal to readers who love great characters and literary fiction.