Sometimes books just seem to leap up out of nowhere and hijack your reading time until you’re done with them. You wonder afterwards, “Where did this come from? Why didn’t I hear of this book before now?” You gasp for breath, amazed at the book’s power and ninja-like stealth. That’s how Peter Heller’s The Dog Stars has been for me. I had never heard of it until I received an advance copy about a week ago and now it’s all I’ve been reading.
This is the first venture into fiction for author Peter Heller, a non-fiction writer whose work has appeared in Outside and Men’s Journal and an auspicious venture it is: The Dog Stars is poetic yet adventurous, a post-apocalyptic novel with plenty of grit and style:
Hig survived the flu that killed everyone he knows. His wife is gone, his friends are dead, he lives in the hangar of a small abandoned airport with his dog, his only neighbor a gun-toting misanthrope. In his 1956 Cessna, Hig flies the perimeter of the airfield or sneaks off to the mountains to fish and to pretend that things are the way they used to be. But when a random transmission somehow beams through his radio, the voice ignites a hope deep inside him that a better life—something like his old life—exists beyond the airport. Risking everything, he flies past his point of no return—not enough fuel to get him home—following the trail of the static-broken voice on the radio. But what he encounters and what he must face—in the people he meets, and in himself—is both better and worse than anything he could have hoped for.
Sounds good, right? Want to check it out?
Right now NPR is offering a free written and audio preview of two chapters from The Dog Stars. Head over there and give it a chance. If you love post-apocalyptic fiction and stories of survival, I think you will have found your next read.