So many novels are published that it is very difficult for an author to create a book which is distinctive and which stands out from the rest. Many seem to just merge into one after a while and a few months on it is hard to recollect the plot. Not so with futuristic novels where the writer literally has a blank canvas to work with and can put his own unique stamp on the story. If I think back over the dystopian novels I have read in the past year, and there have been a few, I can generally remember them in some detail and this is certainly the case here as the story is quite distinctive.
The Dog Stars reveals a world that has been decimated. The apocalyptic event which resulted in this situation was a contagious illness which few survived. Hig is one of the, possibly fortunate few, and with his companion Bangley creates a defensible environment where they can live in comparative security in a hostile world. Hig's relationship with Bangley is symbiotic. Bangley is a weapons expert who can defend their territory. Hig has a light aircraft which he uses to scout the area and get advance warning of potential threats. They work together to stay safe.
This is very much a book of two halves and I much preferred the second half. The writing style is a little awkward as the narrative is split into paragraphs, some very short with only a word or two, some half a page. One does get used to this style after a while. This reflects Hig's thoughts which jump around somewhat between current and past events and are sometimes rather disjointed. You gradually learn about Hig, his past, his hopes and fears and his relationship with Bangley which proves to be much more complex than one would assume at face value.
The second half of the book is much more focussed and tells a coherent, and at times quite exciting and tense story. One is never sure what the outcome is likely to be, good or tragic, and because of this the book becomes something of a page turner as the reader wants to see how things end. Overall this is an absorbing book, once one gets into the meat of it so it is worth persevering though the early part where it is hard to see where it is all leading.