Betsy’s Book Review: The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

Publisher: Vintage Books, New York. Copyright 2012
ISBN: 978-0-307-95047-5
A National Best Seller

Spoilers ahead. If you don’t like to know details about a novel before you read, you might want to skip this review.

I picked up The Dog Stars by Peter Heller while waiting in an airport, and frankly I enjoy fiction, but only if its intelligent and well-written, which this one is.

The world has been decimated by a flu pandemic, and it’s a few years post-apocalypse. The survivors have arranged themselves into small enclaves of existence. Told in the first person by Hig, two men with little in common coexist around an airport, its hanger, and a former high-end neighborhood full of decaying McMansions. Hig intrigues because we finally have an intelligent main character. He shoots a gun, gardens, flies an airplane, loves his dog, reads and writes poetry, and thinks. He thinks, he reasons, and he’s introspective.

Strangers are shot on sight. The flu disease has vicious lingering side effects for some. It’s a brutal world. But eventually, all survivors, in all novels, must ask themselves the burning question, “What’s the point?” What’s the point of trying so hard everyday? What now? Is this all there is? Should I keep on trying? I grind away, but does the future hold any hope?

So, when Hig finally approaches the question, he decides to strike out on his own, with the dog, to figure out the answer to his question. What ensues is the story of Hig.

The author writes in that stream of consciousness style with incomplete sentences, but it’s not particularly distracting. There is a love interest and plot twists. I read this book quickly as I wanted to see how it ended. Satisfying is how it ended. Satisfying for me. And Hig finds the answer to his burning question.