Book Review: The Dog Stars by Peter Heller (2012)
Post-apocalyptic tale of survival and hope (?). Really an existential meditation on life, with an emphasis on "waiting" for the real life to begin versus living life really, in the here-and-now.
This one was a challenge (I think I started it three times before managing to finish it). It's very "literary" in the sense that the story is not told in a straightforward narrative, but is instead part stream-of-consciousness, with constant flashbacks/memories, at least until the mid-point. As some of the criticism I've read says, it's two books--the first half, about the protagonist Hig's relationship with the survivalist Bangley; the second half about his journey (by airplane) into the unknown, seeking something more. Miraculously, he finds it, but almost loses everything; of course he doesn't, and he manages to even rescue Bangley in the end. In the second half, Hig finds two more survivors, a father and his (adult) daughter, and he and the daughter eventually start a relationship. Although that takes a long time to develop.
Post-apocalyptic, but super flu, not zombies. But as in a zombie story, once civilization collapses, the greatest threat to the survivors is other survivors. Hig, Bangley, and the rest have a number of encounters with "raiders".
Hard to know who would like this one. It's poetic, literary (as I said). But with a science fiction premise. It's a bit like Colson Whitehead's Zone One, the literary zombie apocalypse novel. (I liked Zone One quite a bit, but it's not one that I would recommend to many people.)
This one could actually make a good movie. There's enough action, but a simple enough plot. Like The Road, but with less cannabalism and airplanes? (Btw, I haven't seen the movie, but I did read the book. Certainly less dark than The Road.)
This was Heller's first novel, even though he's an experienced magazine writer and a published poet. The protagonist is clearly based on Heller's own experiences, to a great extent. Heller must be a pilot, for example, given the detailed exposition about flying a small Cessna. And a fly fisherman.