A cover that reminded me of Alaska, comparisons to The Road, and constant displays in the bookstore were enough for me to pick up The Dog Stars (2013) by Peter Heller. Before delving in, I knew only that the story was post apocalyptic and involved a plane. When I began, I was surprised to find out that the main character, Hig, lived in my hometown of Denver.
Suddenly I was reading about my neighborhood and my favorite bookstore. And it wasn’t until I read the descriptions of Hig flying his small plane over the area, that I e-mailed my friend–my friend who loves flying and took me up in his small plane one afternoon. I thought he’d enjoy a book that involved flying around the Denver-Metro area in small planes. His response to me was: “I’ve read Peter’s book because he’s a good friend of mine.” Now, this really shouldn’t make much of a difference to me, it’s not like I know the guy. But I’ve never been only one degree of separation from a bestselling author. I peppered my friend with questions about how much was made up and how much was based on the author’s life–which he didn’t bother answering. In fact, I kind of wish I hadn’t learned about this connection until I’d finished reading the book because I found it kind of distracting.
Anyway, about the book: Hig is probably in his 40’s and lives with his dog at a small airport in Eerie, Colorado. One older man, a survivalist gun expert, stays with him. Although they have drastically different philosophies and styles, the two have formed a symbiotic relationship that helps them to survive. A combination of disease and ecological disasters have devastated the world. The few people not wasting away by sickness are scavanging murderously about the country. The trout are gone and hotter weather continues unabated. The story revolves around Hig, focusing primarily on his thoughts, his emotions, and his observations of the world around him. On the whole, it’s a quiet story, requiring patience and careful reading, punctuated by small periods of sheer terror when danger approaches.
Read the rest here.