I became aware of Peter Heller’s “The Dog Stars” while flipping through a copy of Esquire last year. I immediately assumed that it was just another bleak end of the world novel that would soon find its way onto the big screen as a dark and brooding tale about a man against all of the nightmares that come along when civilization ends. After starting the book I realized that I was dead wrong.
“The Dog Stars” begins at a pace that makes the reader believe that they have all of the time the world, which is near perfect because it’s set in an America that has seen its population decimated by some a man-made version of the flu. The pacing isn’t for everyone but when there are only a handful of people left on the planet you actually do have all of the time in the world.
The protagonist of the novel, Hig, isn’t exactly a hero- he’s just a man who has spent the last nine years of his life balancing fear, depression, and loneliness. He spends his days at a rural Colorado airport maintaining his 1950’s era Cessna airplane dubbed the Beast (Their link to the outside world) with his dog Jasper and his slightly off his rocker neighbor, Bangley.