The Dog Stars by Peter Heller
The world as we know it ended nine years ago. That’s when the pandemic swept the country and killed everyone Hig knew and loved except Jasper: his co-pilot (literally), best friend, and dog. Hig and Jasper have survived by keeping isolated at a small airport in Colorado. He and his only human neighbor, a man very talented in the ways of weaponry, live in abandoned homes around the runway. Hig patrols the skies by air to protect themselves from other survivors. This is the story of Hig’s restlessness. His need to see who else is out there. His need to fly past the point of no return.
Yes, it’s a post-apocalyptic story. Yes, some humans have degenerated into a savage state looting and killing for necessities. Yet, I didn’t find this story depressing or disturbing. It is an almost lyrical look at how one man, one very human man, copes with the loss he has suffered and continues to suffer. He is an eternal optimist and a just plain nice guy so you want him to succeed and you want what’s best for him. This is a novel about friendship, survival, being human, and the need to know what’s out there beyond the next ridge.