If you’re the type of person with a strong stomach, who enjoys reading gruesome violence and relishes a fast paced read then The Rats by James Herbert is the book for you. There were moments of violence in this book that were so sickening and horrid that I had to take regular breaks to overcome the shock of what I had read.
Full of horrifying scenes depicting vicious, gory and bloody violence by mutant rats, who no longer fear their larger human neighbours but instead have acquired a taste for them. Nothing is safe from the voracious hunger and intelligent nature of this new breed of rats and their ability to attack anywhere is frightening. Not only do the rip and tear using teeth and claw in their massive numbers but anyone bitten can expect to die within 24 hours.
Harris is a teacher who is local to the area of east London, an area which has witnessed first-hand the terrifying nature of these new rats and when one of his pupils becomes a victim he is thrust into the frontline in the battle against the rats before they take over the whole of London. Although his character doesn’t have the much depth, as is the case with all the characters in the book, it doesn’t take away from the story, it isn’t character driven in my opinion and instead focuses more upon the suspense and horrifying action. There are small introductions throughout of new characters but these cease to develop any further than a few pages and instead become part of the rat’s insatiable diet in bloody and vicious deaths.
What I also like about this book is, although first published in 1974, a lot of the subject matter is relevant today, the deprivation and lack of public services due to budget cuts, causing some areas to fall into squalor making them great habitats and hunting grounds for the deadly mutated rats. All in all a fast, fun read, I wouldn’t recommend this as something to read whilst eating but a definite recommended read.