The Dog Stars

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This is a hard book to categorize. A thinking man’s post-apocalyptic zombie book? Science Fiction? A book for outdoorsmen? A hymn of love to dogs, airplanes and women?

The truth is that this book is actually a fairly typical novel. Like some of the blurbs on the inside cover suggest, this book is very much in the vein of Jack London and Ernst Hemingway. Here’s the link. A man of action is on the inside a poet and sensitive soul longing for something…more. And a women is involved.

And in this sense, it’s a fairly typical book. But that’s a bit harsh. This is a great book and will probably go down well with pretty much anyone. It’s bitter sweet and engrossing. It reads fast.

One of my favourite things is how he manages the expectations of the genre of post-apocalyptic literature. Most of the people who have survived are “Not Nice”. If Hollywood turned this book into a movie, they would be zombies, but in the book most people are a sort wild men. There is a lingering “blood disease” but it doesn’t turn people into zombies, but you can see that it’s a nicely done nod to the idea.

Without giving anything away, there is an interesting dichotomy between the two main characters that I think is something new, something that has emerged quite recently in American culture. Specifically, since 9/11.

So there is the main character – Hig. He’s a carrier of the light. He’s civilized and lonely. He loves poetry and is sensitive. But he has a partner who is a Survivalist; a Bringer of Death. They represent a partnership both practical and symbolic. It’s a partnership that could only exist in post 9/11 America.

Hig, despite some disguise, is clearly a sort of hipster outdoorsman. He probably wore Patagonia, if you get my meaning. The other character – Bangley (it’s all in the name) – probably wears Cabela’s. And despite some superficial similarities, they could not be more different. Ultimately, Bangley’s roots are revealed (meaningfully) and Hig’s reliance on Bangley is explored. It’s an interesting sub-plot that I thought was worth pointing out.

A light read; a good read; a thoughtful read with some gentle humour.

 

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