Saturday, September 11, 2010

R.I.P. Readers In Peril Challenge Book 2 The Rats by James Herbert

The RatsThe Rats by James Herbert

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For millions of years man and rats had been natural enemies. But now for the first time - suddenly, shockingly, horribly - the balance of power had shifted and the rats began to prey on the human population Good Reads

Though written in 1974, The Rats has a lot of elements that are mainstays in contemporary horror fiction : A viscous, seemingly unstoppable creature, a major city in peril, and a government that is woefully unprepared and thus makes disastrous decisions.

Set in England, the book profiles the rise of a new breed of dangerous rats. They are the size of small dogs. They have tasted human flesh, and liked it, and there hunger is overwhelming. James has multiple vignettes of characters whose history is revealed just enough to give you a visceral reaction to their demise! The rats themselves are the stars of the books as they cleverly devise ways to capture their human and animal prey, even dominating the normal rat population.

The one consistent human character in the book is Mr. Harris a school teacher.His student is one of the first victims of the vermin. After a terrifying school invasion Harris becomes part of a government team trying to stop the rats. There is an overall lack of vivid character development of the main characters in the book, but the chills are well worth the read. The attacks lead to a climactic battle as Harris chases the mutated rats to their source, and a weird King Rat.

The rat attacks are visceral and cringe worthy but horror fans will be intrigued by this slim volume that inspired many future horror writers.

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