The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

June 18, 2015 Post-Apocalyptic Fiction 8

Hello Bookworms,

You know how sometimes you start a book only to put it down for like a month? Normally when I do that I never pick it up again and it lands on the stack of good intentions otherwise known as the DNF pile. Every once in a while, though, the big break in reading is a result of my schedule and not a waning interest in the book. It was thus that I finally finished reading The Dog Stars by Peter Heller.

thedogstarsThis book had been on my radar for quite some time, so when I was out shopping and saw a copy in the bargain bin, I picked it up. The apocalypse is my jam, but you already knew that. This time, the apocalypse is due to a super flu (the common and plausible nightmare scenario of germ-o-phobes everywhere.) It’s been 9 years or so since the world ended. Hig lives in an abandoned airport with his dog Jasper and his survivalist weapons expert roommate, Bangley. Hig and Jasper make regular scouting runs in Hig’s old 1950s airplane while Bangley spends his time MacGuyver-ing weapons and figuring out new ways to blow shiznit up. After a series of traumatic events, Hig decides to strike out beyond his normal range to follow a signal that may be nothing but a pipe dream.

The story is told by Hig in a rather unusual first person narrative. At the outset, Hig tells the reader that he was one of the few people who contracted the flu and recovered. He claims that the fever cooked a lot of brain cells, hence his choppy narration. I get that this was a stylistic choice, but I found it rather distracting. After reading books with similar plots and stunning prose (Station Eleven, I’m looking at you!) this was a little disappointing. Still. I found the story engaging and interesting, as I always do when the end is nigh. If you’re in the mood for a little post apocalyptic fiction, The Dog Stars might be the book for you.

Talk to me, Bookworms! Do you ever get frustrated by a narrator’s diction? Does heavily accented prose put you off? Am I the only one who finds choppy narration distracting?

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8 Responses to “The Dog Stars by Peter Heller”

  1. Annabel Smith

    I just ADORED this book. In fact, one of the things I most loved about it was the narrative style. It was so original. I loved how it combined sort of tough macho Hemingway-esque talk, with amazing poetic passages. I went to a writing workshop which Peter Heller ran when he came to Perth and he seems like such a sweet man.

    • Words For Worms

      I’m such a dullard, I have a low tolerance for experimental/unusual narratives. I’m pleased to hear you loved it so much and that the author is a nice guy. It’s always nice to hear that!

  2. Michelle

    I like heavy dialects in novels. Once you get into the rhythm of it, I find it makes a story more vibrant. I have not read this one…yet…but it most definitely is one I am looking forward to reading.

  3. Erin @ Biblionomad

    I really loved The Dog Stars. I read somewhere that the author is a poet as well, and it really came through in the imagery and language he chose, although I can see where that was less naturalistic. Have you ever read Far North by Marcel Theroux? I’d be interested to hear what you thought of that one!

  4. Jenny @ Reading the End

    How’s the punctuation? I have liked novels in heavy dialect, but I am in general not fond of it when authors choose to represent a character’s wobbly mental state typographically. I LOVE PUNCTUATION.

  5. AMB

    I’m not sure how I’d feel about that choppy style, but I’m glad the book still turned out to be engaging. I might add it to my list. We’ll see!

Talk to me, Bookworms!

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