In the midst of our famous Tucson summer it’s typical for us to want to read a light hearted, mind occupying novel that allows us to escape those ferocious rays of heat. What you might not expect is to find a post-apocalyptic story to do just that. There isn’t a lot about a barren landscape with bleak promises of the future that take our minds off our desert home, however, The Dog Stars by Peter Heller was the perfect book to keep us glued to our air conditioned couches and avoiding all calls to go swimming.

The Dog Stars

After a flu-like pandemic wipes out nearly all of the words population including his wife and friends, Hig is left with his dog Jasper and a gun totting war vet named Bangley. As they defend an old hangar complete with functioning air craft, their days consist of gardening, scouting the surrounding area via plane and fishing in the river for what few fish have survived the warming waters. Hig is bored and miserable until he hears a voice come over the radio while out scanning for any possible intruders. What follows is the story of Hig as he sets off to discover what magic might still be left in the world. Told in the first person narrative we hear Higs story in his own voice. While many critics have ventured to say this was the biggest turn off, we disagree! It takes some getting used to. The punctuation is off, the voice a little casual and there are absolutely no quotation marks to distinguish the dialogue, and that can be tricky. We encourage you to trudge through these set backs and accept this story for the rare gem that it is.

While there’s plenty of death, starvation, and desolation in this tale, just like any other post-apocalyptic novel, there’s also a profound sense of emotion and awe for humankind. The Dog Stars is as unique as it gets. Below we picked a few of our favorite quotes from the story that won’t ruin the whole thing. If you had a hard time with the structure of the writing, maybe these insights will convince you to pick it up again or start it for the first time.

“Grief is an element. It has its own cycle like the carbon cycle, the nitrogen. It never diminishes not ever. It passes in and out of everything.”

“Something like laughter. That a flower could be this small, this fleeting, that a snowflake could be so large, so persistent. The improbable simplicity. I groaned. Why don’t we have a word for the utterance between laughing and crying?”

“Is it possible to love so desperately that life is unbearable? I don’t mean unrequited, I mean being in the love. In the midst of it and desperate. Because knowing it will end, because everything does. End.”

“That so much of that is a dream or might as well be. That I don’t know the difference anymore between dream and memory. I wake from dream into dream and am not sure why I keep going. That I suspect only curiosity keeps me alive. That I’m not sure any longer if that is enough.”

This book left us aching for more. Completely originally and craft-fully written, The Dog Stars should definitely be your next summer read. Give us a call and we’ll check stock for you and don’t forget you can put most items on hold for up to 7 days as well as transfer them between stores. Here’s to a great summer of reading.