the dog starsThe riveting, powerful debut novel, The Dog Stars, from an award-winning adventure writer Peter Heller is receiving great early reviews. It is the story of a pilot surviving in a world filled with loss–and of what he is willing to risk to rediscover, against all odds, connection, love, and grace.

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Early Advance Praise:

“In the tradition of postapocalyptic literary fiction such as Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and Jim Crace’s The Pesthouse, this hypervisceral first novel by adventure writer Heller (Kook) takes place nine years after a superflu has killed off much of mankind. . . . With its evocative descriptions of hunting, fishing, and flying, this novel, perhaps the world’s most poetic survival guide, reads as if Billy Collins had novelized one of George Romero’s zombie flicks. From start to finish, Heller carries the reader aloft on graceful prose, intense action, and deeply felt emotion.”


            —Publishers Weekly (June 11, 2012) (starred)

“Leave it to Peter Heller to imagine a post-apocalyptic world that contains as much loveliness as it does devastation. His hero, Hig, flies a 1956 Cessna (his dog as co-pilot) around what was once Colorado, chasing all the same things we chase in these pre-annihilation days: love, friendship, the solace of the natural world, and the chance to perform some small kindness. The Dog Stars is a wholly compelling and deeply engaging debut.”


—Pam Houston, author of Contents May Have Shifted


“Heller is a masterful storyteller and The Dog Stars is a beautiful tribute to the resilience of nature and the relentless human drive to find meaning and deep connections with life and the living. In this chillingly realistic post-apocalyptic setting, readers will root for Heller’s characters and be moved by their toughness as well as their tenderness.”

                —Julianna Baggott, author of Pure

The Dog Stars is a giant of a novel that goes about its profound business with what looks alarmingly like ease. For all those who thought Cormac McCarthy’s The Road the last word on the post-apocalyptic world – think again. Peter Heller has dark and glittering news from the future, and delivers it in prose that stops you like a wolf in the snow. Make time and space for this savage, tender, brilliant book.”

                —Glen Duncan, author of The Last Werewolf and Talulla Rising

“Take the sensibility of Hemingway.  Or James Dickey.  Place it in a world where a flu mutation has wiped out ninety-nine percent of the population. Add in a heartbroken man with a fishing rod, some guns, a small plane. Don’t forget the dog. Now imagine this man retains more hope than might be wise in such a battered and brutal time. More trust. More hunger for love—more capacity for it, too. That’s what Peter Heller has given us in his beautifully written first novel. The Dog Stars is a gripping tale of one man’s fight for survival against impossibly long odds. A man who has lost nearly everything but his soul. And what’s so moving about Heller’s book is that he shows us how sometimes a big soul is the only thing a man needs: the keystone, the center pillar, the hunk of masonry upon which all else will rise or fall.”


            —Scott Smith, author of A Simple Plan and The Ruins

“This fiction debut from an NPR contributor and writer for Outside magazine tells the story of a pilot who is lost and alone after the world has been devastated by a flu epidemic. Then one day he receives a radio transmission: Someone’s out there.”

            —Bookpage (March 16, 2012)

“Great expectations for this first novel, featuring a pilot lost in a world gutted by a flu pandemic. When he receives a random radio transmission, he realizes that he’s not alone. Heller comes naturally by the edgy adventure promised here.”

            —Library Journal (March 1, 2012)

“Outdoor life has been the focus of Heller’s award-winning nonfiction. In his gripping first novel, his gift for action and appreciation for prowess and courage fuel a harrowing yet charming postapocalyptic tale. The book’s complex spell is cast by its tough yet sensitive can-do narrator, Hig. Happiest while trout fishing, he’s a skilled hunter, daring pilot, and poet turned outdoorsy writer. Hig misses his wife, who died in the nation-crushing pandemic, dearly loves his dog, and is both leery of and grateful for Bangley, an older guy of few words but immense tenacity, military know-how, and firepower. They are holed up in a small Colorado airport, fighting off intermittent assaults by bands of murderous survivors. Richly evocative yet streamlined journal entries propel the high-stakes plot while simultaneously illuminating Hig’s nuanced states of mind as isolation and constant vigilance exact their toll, along with his sorrow for the dying world as global warming worsens. Hig takes long, risky, meditative walks; tends the garden; and stubbornly takes to the air in a 1956 Cessna, searching for some remnant of civilization. Heller’s surprising and irresistible blend of suspense, romance, social insight, and humor creates a cunning form of cognitive dissonance neatly pegged by Hig as an “apocalyptic parody of Norman Rockwell”—a novel, that is, of spiky pleasure and signal resonance.

Booklist, Donna Seaman


The Dog Stars Receives Early Praise!

Category: Reviews

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