Book Introduction: The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

Hello Monday readers! We’re back to our original schedule. Posting at night feels weird and has completely thrown me off my writing schedule, so I decided to return to my original posting hours. Now, on to business.

We’re finally ready to talk about our next book! I was a bit spoiled for choice when it came to choices for Colorado, but I settled on The Dog Stars because it had a touch of the post apocalyptic which I really enjoy. I know my Wyoming pick, Amnesia Moon by Jonathan Lethem, was also in that vein, but I couldn’t help myself. The Dog Stars, written by Peter Heller, follows a man who’s survived a massive illness that decimated most of the population. Nine years later, all that’s left is a handful of survivors scattered around, including him, his dog, and the man he shares an airport with for mutual protection.

Initially, getting into the book was a bit difficult. Hig, our main character, tells us he suffered from very high fevers that nearly killed him, instead they fried his brain. This means his thoughts and, therefore, what you’re reading ends up being pretty disjointed and fragmented. There were times when I had to go back and reread a paragraph a few times in order to understand what he was saying. Once you get used to it though, it’s easier to follow his train of thought. And Hig thinks a lot, he thinks about the past, about what it means to kill people, about getting used to it. He thinks about his dead wife and talks mostly to his dog, Jasper.

The book feels gritty in a sweet way, because there are all these terrible things happening or that happened, but Hig remains almost innocent. His main concern is always Jasper’s welfare, which is closely followed by taking care of families that live close by who are too sick to do much of anything. He visits, always keeping his distance so as to not get sick, and delivers vegetables, helps fix things. Bangley, his end of the world companion, is the complete opposite of him. Bangley believes in killing everyone that isn’t him and Hig, he doesn’t believe in doing anything that isn’t conducive to their survival and seems to take delight in this new Survivor status that the world has forced him into.

So far I’m halfway through the book and I’ve already cried at least once, that I can remember. There’s a lot of sadness in these pages. I feel like lately there’s been a lot of that going on in the books I’ve been reading lately, but I’m really enjoying it. It’s like an emotional purging without having to contemplate your own issues. I’m aware that stinks of denial and repression, but after crying for so many characters I feel absolutely relieved. It’s great therapy, if you ask me. But you haven’t, so I’ll keep talking about the book.

I’m not quite sure where this book will end. Hig is determined to find a survivor that isn’t infected. There’s a possible Elk shadow that keeps popping up in different places, so this mythical Elk might play a part later. Who knows?

I’ll let you know what happens. I promise. Keep it cool, readers. Until next time!

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