The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

Unlike the rest of this week’s posts today’s book, The Dog Stars, has a grown-up appeal; it features an adult male protagonist. Plus, unlike the books previously presented this week there is no oppressive government presence. In fact there is no government at all, no societal divisions, no lurking rebellious factions just a few lost souls after a world-wide influenza epidemic.

Two things captured me about The Dog Stars: First it is sort of a survival manual for a post-apocalyptic world. Second the main character, Hig, is joined in his 1956 Cessna by his Labrador retriever, Jasper.  Hig, prior to the epidemic was both a fisherman and a hunter—two skills that make life possible for him in the present. He forms an alliance with his neighbor for their mutual protection against roving bands that threaten to rob and kill them. Hig, with his Cessna airplane is able to scout the area both for the marauders and for game. Jasper is his constant companion.

On one of his flights Hig hears a radio transmission. Believing there is civilization left somewhere in the world, Hig is compelled to track down the source. This means flying past the point of no return, or the distance where he does not have enough fuel to get back home. He ventures into the unknown which is both more and less than he expected.

The Dog Stars is undoubtedly grim, but more hopeful than Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, another post-apocalyptic novel. Fans of the Hatchet novels by Gary Paulsen might like this.

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