Book review: 'The Dog Stars' is a gritty tale of humanity's bleak future

By Steve Larson

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Aug. 11 2012 1:00 p.m. MDT

"THE DOG STARS," by Peter Heller, Alfred A. Knopf, $24.95, 317 pages (f)

Peter Heller's new book, "The Dog Stars," tells the story of a man who has lost just about everything to a devastating plague that is destroying humanity.

The book's main character, Hig, has lost his wife, his family and everyone he knows. He is left with just his dog Jasper, his plane and a gun-crazy neighbor named Bangley.

Together the three of them attempt to defend a small country airport that Hig and Jasper now call home. This task has become difficult because numerous thieves and murderers are roaming what is left of the state of Colorado. Hig and Bangley must work together to protect what little they have left.

Hig does have an advantage; he is a pilot and has his 1956 Cessna to give him a bird's eye view of the bleak wasteland around them. This provides him both freedom and pain as he tries to find civilization by pushing the limits of his plane's fuel capacity.

As Hig ventures further and further from his home base, he discovers the destruction is far worse than he imagined. His radio calls to airports all over Colorado go unanswered, but he continues to hope for signs of life in radio responses from other pilots.

Heller's view of humanity's future is mostly bleak and depressing. The story does develop into an interesting tale of survival and above all a love story about two desperate people caught in a desperate situation.

Heller has a unique writing style that he uses to give insight into his character's thoughts and feelings. However, at times it is difficult to separate Hig's thoughts from dialog because Heller does not use quotation marks to offset the dialog.

This book is not for everyone. It is written for a mature audience. It is filled with strong language and graphic descriptions of sex and violence.

If you go ...

What: Peter Heller book signing

When: Wednesday, Aug. 15, 7 p.m.

Where: The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City

Web: kingsenglish.com

Steve Larson is one of the founders of Information Alliance, a Utah-based data collection company. He currently serves as vice president of sales. He spends his free time writing and practicing photography. He also enjoys spending time outdoors.

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