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The Dog Stars by Peter Heller (book review)

The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

Dog Stars by Peter Heller book cover

Some books just grip you, and after you’ve read them and set them down, there is a palpable sense of amazement, and a sigh of satisfaction. That’s why we read books.
When I finished reading Peter Heller’s first novel, The Dog Stars, I got that incredible rush you get from something so tightly written, so well crafted, with the kind of realistic dialogue and interesting plot twists that you want to keep reading. My father told me he finished it in two days, and then went back and re-read it. Heller is that good.

It’s a dystopian novel, set 30 years in the future. Everyone but about 3% of the population is dead from the plague, a disease that quickly ran through the world and there are only a small number of survivors. Hig, the protagonist, lives on an airport joined and protected by Bangley, a right wing gun nut who while giving Hig protection, makes him a little afraid.

Hig flies a 1952 Cessna airplane in a perimeter around their encampment, watching out for the outlaws who might at any point burst in and try to take their food and their guns. He’s got a full tanker truck of fuel, and they manage to grow some food and live off hunting venison and other game. They’ve figured out how to live, despite the terrible pain Hig feels about losing his beloved wife and watching the whole world collapse in front of them. He flies over big box stores and houses that have been taken over by weeds, he sees the roads where the asphalt has cracked….so many ravages that nine years can do when nobody is there to defend man’s creations.

Hig sets out for a long hunting trip with Jasper, his dog and only real friend. After Jasper dies, it becomes too much for him and he’s determined to fly past the point of no return, to find out the origin of a mysterious radio transmission he heard three years ago while flying.

I don’t want to tell any more but needless to say, Heller has already sold the movie rights to this gripping and emotional book. It will make nearly as good a movie as it does a first novel. I couldn’t be prouder of my childhood friend for crafting such a work of brilliance. Buy The Dog Stars now.

By Max Hartshorne. Max is the publisher and editor of the popular GoNOMAD travel site. He’s also the editor of the best-selling GoNOMAD Plane Reader travel books, including the Italy Plane Reader, the Cuba Plane Reader, the England Plane Reader, and many others.

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