I’m not a fan of post-apocalyptic fiction though I’ve read more than a lifetime’s worth and I get why it is popular: We live in a world of uncertainty and great post-apocalyptic stories give us the hope that we can survive the worse of times.
Peter Heller’s brilliant The Dog Stars gives us the story of loss, survival, and love in a United States decimated by a pandemic flu. The main character, Hig, shares his life with his dog Jasper, and Bangley, his gun-loving misanthropic neighbor. Hig spends days flying above their little outpost in Northern Colorado in a Cessna, patrolling their small expanse of land. He hikes into the Rockies to hunt and fish. While Hig and Bangley kill intruders with ease, their losses are significant because their world is empty and silent, and survival forces them to keep their guard up.
Heller’s writing is a treat and he has real talent for describing nature, ratcheting up the tension, and delivering a very satisfying story.