“The Dog Stars,” a post-apocalyptic thriller written by Peter Heller, was both a poetic portrayal of life after humans, and a horrifying narrative of what survival in that type of world would entail. The backdrop of his novel is the town of Erie, Colorado, a small suburb north of Denver that has a single runway municipal airport. Heller lives in Denver and I found his depiction of an end-of-the-world Colorado to be believable.
Hig and Bangley, two survivors have secured the perimeter of the airport and have stockpiled weapons and ammunition to hold their position for the next ten to fifteen years. Bangley is described as a heartless killer who takes nothing for granted and has a shoot-first, ask questions later mentality. Hig is more of a reluctant survivor whose main survival skill is his ability to fly a 1957 Cessna. Hig’s main source of sustenance is his faithful companion, Jasper, his blue heeler cattle dog. I also enjoyed the touch that Heller added to Hig’s character that he enjoyed poetry. He was sensitive, cherishing old books of poetry, and even had an added nod that he had published a book of poetry himself before the pandemic.
The novel’s themes revolve around loss and survival. Questions about existence and meaning swirl around the central characters. There are questions about what it takes to survive, whether alone or with someone else or in a community. This was a thought-provoking novel in the same spirit as similar post-apocalyptic novels such The Road or Station Eleven. It was an enjoyable read.
Get a copy of “The Dog Stars” by Peter Heller here while you ride out this most recent Coronavirus pandemic.