Simon's Bookcase

Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe

The Rats

The Rats: James Herbert, October 22—24, 2016
My rating: ♦♦♦◊◊

ratsJames Herbert’s debut novel, The Rats, is set in the London slums which sees an outbreak of giant mutant rats. The victims who aren’t mauled to death by the dog-sized vermin have a painful death from infection ahead.

The story’s introduction comprises several one-chapter vignettes which are carbon copies of each other: generic unsuspecting victim(s) are brutally killed by rats that can’t possibly be that big. After the first incident, you’re kind of waiting for the gory bit because it’s not worth investing in a character that’s about to be lunch.

The story proper gets going when the authorities enlist the help of our protagonist – a teacher and striving, unbitten witness – to tackle the issue. Quite why the high school teacher remains so prominent is rather unfathomable. It’s your classic idiot plot: the contrivance of Harris’s ongoing role is on the basis that the entirety of the government officials and scientists are incompetent.

Harris plays a crucial role in one of the book’s only genuinely exciting sequences: the school siege. Here, Harris has to think about actual strategies to address the problem, and the tension is at a peak. Tonally and literally, it’s a departure from the oh-so-dull pattern that is repeated everywhere else.

Herbert’s reported social commentary goal (the authorities don’t care about the poor folk) can be inferred but it’s not clear. Such readings come easier to those that sympathise with that view and interpret accordingly. It’s a bit like saying biologists don’t like pandas because they’re getting wiped out.

The creepy, intelligent, large and lethal rats are genuinely creepy but the plot is so bogged down with repetitive inanity that the potential of the novel is lost somewhere in the mischief.

(Note: I did have to Google what a group of rats is called. A mischief. We got a fact out of it.)


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This entry was posted on October 24, 2016 by in 3 star and tagged .

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@Queen_UK Adolf Hitler agatha christie Alan Clements Alastair Campbell Aldous Huxley Aleksandr Orlov Alex Shaffer Andrew Neiderman Anthony Burgess Arthur Miller Bateman Ben Brooks Ben Elton Bram Stoker Bret Easton Ellis C.J. Cherryh Carolyn Jess-Cooke Charles Dickens Chuck Palahniuk Dan Brown Dante Alighieri dashiell hammett david baldacci David Brin David Glattauer David Kirkpatrick David Line David Tennant David Wolstencroft Dylan Jones E.L. James Edgar Allen Poe Emilia Fox Eoin Colfer Erica Spindler Frank Peretti Gabrielle Lord Gareth Roberts Geoff Ryman George Orwell George R. R. Martin George W. Bush Gillian Flynn Gillian Slovo Graham Greene Guy Piran Harper Lee Harriet Lane Herman Koch Ian Rankin J.K. Rowling Jack Thorne Jacqueline Rayner James Herbert James Patterson Jasper Fforde Jeff Green Jeff Kinney Jeffrey Archer Jem Lester Jenny Robson Jeremy Clarkson Jerry B. Jenkins Jim Thompson John Crowther John Green John Grisham John Tiffany John Verdon Jonas Jonasson Judith Kerr Juliana Foster Justin Richards Kaci Hill Karen Levine Keeley Bolger Louis Walsh malorie blackman Marissa Meyer Mark Haddon Mark Z. Danielewski Martin Sixsmith Mary Higgins Clark Mary McNamara Matt Haig Matthew Ravden Michael Berry Michael Connelly Michael Morpurgo Michael Quirke Miguel de Cervantes Mike Lancaster Morris Gleitzman Morton Rhue Neil Sinclair Nick Hornby Nick Page Patricia Cornwell Patricia Stotley Patrick Ness Paula Hawkins Paul Johnston Peter James Phil Allcock R.J. Palacio Rachelle Dekker Raymond Chandler Richard Bachman Robert Louis Stevenson Robert Ludlum Robin Cook Robin Kirkpatrick sandra brown Sebastian Beaumont Sharon Osbourne Stella Rimmington Stephen Cole Stephen King Steve Lookner Steve Lyons Stuart MacBride Sue Townsend Suzanne Collins ted dekker Terry Pratchett Tim LaHaye Tim Randall Todd Strasser Tom Avery Tom Bower Tom Cain Tom Hoyle tony blair William Golding William P. Young William Shakespeare