Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Book Review: The Dog Stars

On the scale of post-apocalyptic novels, this one is very high on scientific realism (no zombies, just flu and disease, and very good estimates of what would and wouldn't work after a decade of neglect), very high on the depravity of man (one must be absolutely ruthless again and again), and very high on poetry. Oh, and it may be the best written example of the genre I've read in terms of both description and psychology. Makes you really think through what that "if you were the last person on earth" phrase would imply, and the long impact of devastation, even for the survivors. I don't want to give away too much other than that it's intense and well-written, but I didn't quite connect the way I did with Age of Miracles: maybe someone who's more into dogs, flying, and the outdoors would connect better. It's also not half as gentle as Age of Miracles, this is Walking Dead-style intensity. I understand why it was a staff pick at my local library, but it doesn't make the cut for me, just for personal reasons I don't really control. Yet there's three or four moments/phrases that are just crystalline perfect (one involving the Book of Lamentations), and ultimately I genuinely like what Peter Heller does with the story compared to all the other examples out there of the genre. High quality writing and you may like it even more than I did. If you have a dog maybe.

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