Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Dog Stars

Title:  The Dog Stars
Author:  Peter Heller
Publication Information: Alfred A. Knopf, Random House, Inc. 2012. 292 pages

Book Source:  I read this book because I found the cover and title intriguing.

Favorite Quote:  "Life is tenacious if you give it one little bit of encouragement."

The Dog Stars is the story of a post-apocalyptic world. Nine years have passed since a disease killed most of the population of the world and most of the natural life. A few survivors remain. Some are infected with contagious diseases and still attempt to live life. Some are infected and have gone feral. A very few are immune and the survivors.

Hig is one of the immune survivors. He has seen his life, his family, and his world destroyed. He lives with his dog at an airport. He flies an old 1950s Cessna and attempts to live some kind of a life. Most of his life is dedicated to simply surviving - food, provisions, and the fight again bands of invaders. Yet, he finds moments of hope and beauty even in this world - mountains and trees starting to come back to life, his attempts to help families living with the disease, his love for his dog, and his hope found in a random transmission caught on his radio. Hig shares his airport home with Bangley, an old soldier who loves guns and focuses on survival and protection.

One day, Hig decides to risk this life and pursue the hope that the radio transmission brought to him. The risk lies in the fact that the origination point of the transmission is beyond his point of no return with the fuel capacity of his plane. If he flies out, he will not have the fuel to return unless he finds a source out there. What he finds out here brings disillusionment, sorrow, and hope in different ways. But that would be giving too much away.

Post-apocalyptic novels are not my usual genre. Yet, I really enjoyed this one. The focus of the story is on hope, human relationships, and human emotions - all the makings of a good book. The writing style is succinct and sometimes fragmented. Yet, in this story,  it works. It seems to reinforce the fragmented nature of Hig's life and emotions as the constant struggle to survive and hold grief at bay continues.

I am not sure I will seek out more post-apocalyptic novels, but I am glad I read this one.

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