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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 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.


“With poetic flair, Heller’s magnificent debut novel crafts perfect moments of humor and heartache in a deeply affecting story of a man who refuses to let tragedy shatter him.”
–iTunes iBooks Best Novel of 2012

“One of the most powerful reads in years.”

“Heller has written a stunning debut novel. In spare, poetic prose, he portrays a soaring spirit of hope that triumphs over heartbreak, trauma, and insurmountable struggles. A timely must-read.”
–Library Journal, Starred Review

“beautifully written and morally challenging”
–The Atlantic Monthly, Best Books of 2012

“A dreamy, postapocalyptic love letter to things of beauty, big and small: a twitching trout, a can of Sprite, empathy, sex, decency, and a good dog”
–Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl

“Beautifully narrated . . . a book that will surprise you. . . . Hig is a charmer, a man of his word with a wicked sense of humor and an acute sense of survival. His eyes are open to the world as only a poet’s can be, observing and absorbing any beauty left in the aftermath of the world’s tragedy. . . . The author shocks readers with unexpected bursts of action-packed scenes that keep the book moving at a suspenseful pace…a book that rests easily on shelves with Dean Koontz, Jack London or Hemingway.”
–The Missourian

“The prose bears an obvious debt to manly sentence-smiths like McCarthy, Hemingway, and Jack London, but it also has lyrical descriptions of landscape and nature reminiscent of James Dickey’s poetry…it’s always exhilarating (and quite rare) to see a journalist forgo familiar ground for the uncharted territory of fiction, and make such a brilliant success of it.”
–John Seabrook, The New Yorker

“Heller’s voice is extraordinary and his narrator’s toughness seems to hide a beautiful and aching restlessness. One of those books that makes you happy for literature.”
–Junot Díaz, The Wall Street Journal

“The Dog Stars is simply superb, an emotive and powerful novel in a refreshingly original style, breath-taking.”

“Decisively strikes at the ever-arching desire to know what makes us human…. Gruff, tormented and inspirational, Heller has the astonishing ability to make you laugh, cringe and feel ridiculously vulnerable throughout the novel…One of the most powerful reads in years.”

“…this novel, perhaps the world’s most poetic survival guide, reads as if Billy Collins had novelized one of George Romero’s zombie flicks. From start to finish, Heller carries the reader aloft on graceful prose, intense action, and deeply felt emotion.”
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

Philadelphia Magazine

“Gripping…Heller’s surprising and irresistible blend of suspense, romance, social insight, and humor creates a cunning form of cognitive dissonance neatly pegged by Hig as an “apocalyptic parody of Norman Rockwell”—a novel, that is, of spiky pleasure and signal resonance.”
Booklist, Starred Review

“Ravishing…Nothing is black or white in Heller’s remarkable novel. In the midst of all the devastation, Heller shows us the stunning beauty of the natural world….
The pages of “The Dog Stars” are damp with grief for what is lost and can never be recovered. But there are moments of unexpected happiness, of real human interaction, infused with love and hope, like the twinkling of a star we might wish upon, which makes this end-of-the-world novel more like a rapturous beginning.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“What [Hig] encounters along the way brings to the fore primal instincts and essential desires. The action is swift, pinpointing old struggles with little ado: Companionship is what we long for, memory is what confounds us, sex is what agitates the caldron of all we are. The narrative has the urgency and rhythm of Morse code. Scarcity leads to the discovery of new pleasures. To a re-evaluation of what matters. To a sense of home. Giving one’s dog a place among the constellations in the company of a lover amounts to all of the above.”
The Salt Lake Tribune

“…a dark, poetic and funny novel in its own right…That his story is not in the end depressing may be the most disturbing part of this novel. In fact, at times, the destruction of civilization seems to have given Hig the chance to live more richly in the present, to feel grace more acutely, to sleep outdoors and gaze up at the stars in this purged, rejuvenated universe. It is frightening to face up to the apocalypse. It’s perhaps even more frightening when we get past that and start seeing its upside.”

“A heart-wrenching and richly written story about loss and survival — and, more important, about learning to love again….”The Dog Stars” is a love story, but not just in the typical sense. It’s an ode to friendship between two men, a story of the strong bond between a human and a dog, and a reminder of what is worth living for. As Hig ponders early in the novel: “So I wonder what it is this need to tell. To animate somehow the deathly stillness of the profoundest beauty. Breathe life in the telling.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Fresh . . . quiet, meditative . . . it’s the people [Hig] meets when he least expects to who change everything, proving a truth we know from our everyday nonfictional lives: Even when it seems like all the humans in the world are only out for themselves, there are always those few who prove you absolutely wrong—in the most surprising of ways.”

“All in all, this is a remarkable, beautiful, emotive book that will reduce you to tears (on more than one occasion) and make you hug your loved ones all the closer. Aren’t those the sort of things we want out of a good story, after all? A book that you can’t wait to return to, to read again for the first time. I can’t stress it enough – go to this book, read it, love it, pass it along. Repeat.”
The Book Catapult

“[A] terrific debut novel . . . Recalling the bleakness of Cormac McCarthy and the trout-praising beauty of David James Duncan, The Dog Stars makes a compelling case that the wild world will survive the apocalypse just fine; it’s the humans who will have the heavy lifting.”
Outside Magazine

“A stunning, hope-riddled end-of-the-world story about a man and his dog nine years after almost everyone else on earth has been eradicated. We think this novel is bound to become a classic.”

“With echoes of Moby Dick, Peter Heller’s terrific first novel, The Dog Stars, wastes no time introducing everything we need to know about his narrator…These references to Melville and Beckett are not inappropriate. Heller brings Melville’s broad, contemplative exploration of good and evil to his story; he tells it in the spare, often disjunctive, language of Beckett. Heller’s vision, however, is not as dark as that of his literary antecedents. His faith in the resilience of mankind is reflected in Hig’s persistence in fishing for river carp in the face of the extinction of his beloved trout. “They fought without the vigor of a trout but with a sullen reluctance like a mule digging in his heels,” Heller writes. “They simply refused to budge which wasn’t fun, but then there wasn’t much fun anymore and I came to admire their stoicism. A stolid refusal to be yet consumed by the universe.” Perhaps we, too, will be up to the task when Armageddon comes.”
–Shelf Awareness

The Dog Stars is a giant of a novel that goes about its profound business with what looks alarmingly like ease. For all those who thought Cormac McCarthy’s The Road the last word on the post-apocalyptic world – think again. Peter Heller has dark and glittering news from the future, and delivers it in prose that stops you like a wolf in the snow. Make time and space for this savage, tender, brilliant book.”
–Glen Duncan, author of The Last Werewolf

“Leave it to Peter Heller to imagine a postapocalyptic world that contains as much loveliness as it does devastation. His hero, Hig, flies a 1956 Cessna (his dog as copilot) around what was once Colorado, chasing all the same things we chase in these pre-annihilation days: love, friendship, the solace of the natural world, and the chance to perform some small kindness. The Dog Stars is a wholly compelling and deeply engaging debut.”
–Pam Houston, author of Contents May Have Shifted

“Take the sensibility of Hemingway.  Or James Dickey.  Place it in a world where a flu mutation has wiped out ninety-nine percent of the population.  Add in a heartbroken man with a fishing rod, some guns, a small plane.  Don’t forget the dog.  Now imagine this man retains more hope than might be wise in such a battered and brutal time.  More trust.  More hunger for love–more capacity for it, too.  That’s what Peter Heller has given us in his beautifully written first novel.  The Dog Stars is a gripping tale of one man’s fight for survival against impossibly long odds.  A man who has lost nearly everything but his soul.  And what’s so moving about Heller’s book is that he shows us how sometimes a big soul is the only thing a man needs:  the keystone, the center pillar, the hunk of masonry upon which all else will rise or fall.”
–Scott Smith, author of A Simple Plan and The Ruins

“Heller is a masterful storyteller and THE DOG STARS is a beautiful tribute to the resilience of nature and the relentless human drive to find meaning and deep connections with life and the living. In this chillingly realistic post-apocalyptic setting, readers will root for Heller’s characters and be moved by their toughness as well as their tenderness.”
–Julianna Baggott, author of Pure

“While it may be true that Dog Stars is Peter Heller’s first novel, within moments of beginning this haunting work, it became obvious to me that this is no first book. Heller possesses a professionalism and grace that is rarely encountered on the page, and his deft balance of the poetic and the painful, the sublime and the savage, even the living and the dead, well…it impressed me in ways that I’ve not encountered in fiction before.
The term “post-apocalyptic” will be bandied about quite often in regard to this work, which is a shame, as I see it more as a dystopic Garden of Eden love story. Or a buddy story. Or the story of a boy and his dog. Or a gripping outdoor adventure yarn. Yes, there was an Apocalypse, but not on the pages of Dog Stars—this book is alive in a very special way, and will touch the heart of anyone who reads it. I quite simply loved Dog Stars. And so did my wife. And so did a colleague. And so did his friend. And so will my mom.”

–Kevin Hunsanger, Green Apple Books, San Francisco

“Goddamn. This book is f**king great.In fact, it’s pretty much a perfect novel. The writing’s blunt,powerful, and just right for the job; the story goes straight for the gut; the characters get deep inside your head and don’t leave; and the
setting will show up in your dreams.
It’s narrated by Hig, a Cessna pilot, carpenter, and avid fisherman who’s surviving nine years after losing his pregnant wife and most of the rest of humanity to a flu pandemic. He gets by with one dog and one human, the gun nut and ex-military man Bangley, keeping each other alive and safe from marauders by establishing their base at Erie airport, on the plains in Colorado. Everything changes, though, when Hig and the dog take off for a short hunting trip that goes sideways and leaves Hig
wondering why he’s working so hard to stay alive.
Best novel I’ve read this year, hands down.”
–Christie Olson Day, Gallery Books, Mendocino

“I finished The Dog Stars and it was truly one of the best books I’ve read in years. I’ve got everyone in the store excited about it – they are fighting over the one arc we have of it. It’s getting ugly. I will definitely be able to hand sell this book and it won’t take long for it to take off. My prediction (for what it’s worth) is a minimum of 2 years on the New York Times Best Seller List. You’ve got a real winner with this one!
–Patty, Manhattan Avenue, Manhattan Beach

“It was amazing! Such a wonderful, magical book. Really special.”
–Louise Sherwin-Stark Merchandising Manager, Books on Google Play

“I loved Dog Stars and want more ARCs to share with my staff. I haven’t read a novel this good in a year!! Post apocalyptic fiction is not the genre that I generally read but this book was compelling. I literally read it in two days and then was sorry that I had finished it. The characters and the premise are still haunting me several weeks later and I can’t seem to find ‘the next’ novel that holds my attention. I hope that Peter Heller is going to get a lot of buzz. My friend, Betsy Burton from The King’s English loved it as well and in fact, told me about it. We talked for over an hour about it when I finished it. I think it has huge potential to be an indie bestseller.”
–Gayle Shanks, Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe

“So, I started it Friday night, finished it Saturday night, the whole lot. You were right it was my sort of thing, it couldn’t have been more up my street if it had bought the house next door and invited me round for a barbeque. I seem to have a thing for ‘isolationist fiction’ and end of civilisation stuff, and this is one of the most compulsive examples of that type of writing I’ve seen. I totally bought into Hig and Bangley’s relationship, the action sequences were genuinely tense and exciting, and the descriptions of the land and ‘what happens after’ were in perfect pitch with the more exciting elements. Anyway, The Road is the main comparison, and the book and the prose compare favourably. I flew through it and wanted it to be 200 pages longer. It could be huge.”
–Jon Howells, Waterstones, UK, PR and Marketing

“In an utterly unique prose, Peter Heller lays on the page an unforgettable story. One of both the timelessness of the human capacity to love and the possibility of human nature to turn on each other with the intent of complete destruction. Hig and his dog are left alone after a biological catastrophe hits the earth and takes 99% of the human race, including his wife and family. After 9 years of solitude he takes off with the goal of finding a reason to keep going. I read this book through in an afternoon. Peter Heller has gained a career following fan.”
–Janis Segress, Eagle Harbor Book Company, Bainbridge Island, WA

“This is going to be one of the more talked about books of fall. It’s sure to glean comparisons to Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. This is Peter Heller’s debut novel; his other work is adventure writing and the book benefits from all of his experiences. He has the best explanation of blues music I have ever heard.”
–Chris Hoyt at BookPeople

“The opening pages of The Dog Stars are as fragmented as the world in which the novel is set. Two men and a dog are holding the perimeter of an airport somewhere in Colorado, defending themselves from marauders, foraging for food, backing one another up in an obviously uneasy alliance. It’s been nine years, since Hig and his dog Jasper made a home at the airport with their unlikely companion when a deadly flu ravaged the land, and nine years is too long. Dangerous as it is, Hig leaves, chasing a radio voice he’d heard beaming from Grand Junction three years before. Suddenly, he’s willing to pass the point of no return to find its source, even as he wonders what he might find. The Dog Stars is a book that has everything: A Cessna bouncing off clouds, an old dog as fierce as he is faithful, several firestorms of combat, sweeps of brown forest just beginning to green again, a love story that blossoms slowly and sweetly against a dystopian backdrop. I think I’ll start over. I have a feeling it will read as well the second time around, maybe even better.”
–Betsy Burton, The King’s English Bookshop, Salt Lake City

“Years after the world has changed and moved on, Hig is living in an abandoned airfield with his dog, Jasper, and their crazy protector Bangley. When a new tragedy increases Hig’s isolation in the world, he breaks from his routine and goes off in his Cessna to find any reason for his life. Peter Heller packs so much emotion into this book, of loss, longing and the importance of having a human connection to the world, even when the cost of attempting one could mean your lif e. At times thrilling and heart breaking, this is one amazing book that is not meant to be missed.”
–Jason Kennedy, Boswell Book Company