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4.6 out of 5 stars424
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 15 July 2011
Big black rats that gnaw eat and chew.

The first of the Rats trilogy, I tore through this book in a matter of days. The way it is written is very clever indeed, an easy read that is gripping with the advance of the Rats and the increase in frequency of attacks. No punches are pulled and the writing style is tight and compelling. After reading this you WILL want to read the rest of the series. Lair and Domain bring to the fore a truly apocalyptic series about what life would be like if we were not the dominant species anymore, if we were another creatures food source. Rats are very clever and skilled creatures, adaptable and powerful in packs. When the rats you face are bigger than dogs how quickly do you think you would be overwhelmed? How painful would it be to feel long sharp teeth peeling the skin from your body?

I have enjoyed this book many times. As a reader I will often re-visit a story I've enjoyed and it gives me great pleasure to disappear into the Rats trilogy.
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VINE VOICEon 15 January 2012
There was a time was when a book lasted about 200 pages. Kids books were done and dusted in about 100 and only frustrated home counties horse women got to grips with the doorsteps that Jilly Cooper and Jackie Collins turned out.

James Herbert's first novel, would more likely be seen as a novella now: Short and sweet it was a punchy, in-your-face book that scared the proverbial out of me for more than one reason.

Herbert is the product of an East London upbringing. Born at the tail end of WW2, he grew up playing on bomb sites and derelict buildings, wasteland left to ruin. It is these locations that inspired The Rats.

The book deals with a growing number of rat attacks in London. That's a bit obvious really. Starting with the deaths of a vagrant and pest exterminator. Soon the capital is overrun with these deadly carriers of a new plague, whose bite means certain death. We are quickly introduced to Harris, a teacher in East London. The book then begins to follow him through the escalating attacks including one that devastates the school he works in.

For me the trouble is he bases that school on the one he used to attend - St. Aloysius in Highgate. The trouble being I went there. His description of the attack in familiar rooms, corridors and playgrounds is to me truly chilling, especially as I first read the book whilst I was still studying there.

There are subsequent sequels which are good, solid tales but for me it is his first, pacy adventure that holds the reader most - not the flabby written-for-a-film-deal turgid dross that he has produced recently (The Secret of Crickley Hall...Jeez).

Read this. It is a horror story without the unnecessary dressing and so much the better for it.
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on 11 June 2013
After reading The Rats it is easy to see why James Herbert was one of the world's leading horror novelists.
Right from the off you are thrown into a world where the rats have started their attacks which are explained in great detail.
You followers story of Harris the school teacher. Immersed into the horrible underworld of rat infested London you empathise with the characters, willing them on, even those who only play a bit part in the story. From start to finish this novel had me gripped. For his first novel this is an absolute winner, especially at the offer price of 99p.
Will recommend this to all who love a good horror novel.
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on 3 November 2012
I read this over Halloween and I was actually getting just a little chilled by the experience. Not frightened, certainly, but it made me look at rats in a different way.
In The Rats, Herbert's first published novel, a new breed of rat appears in London, larger and more ferocious with a taste for human flesh. London is attacked by the beasts and it is up to a select few to try to get rid of them.
I'm not scared of rats but there is something in the way that Herbert writes that makes it chilling. His description of people being bitten by the things, skin being torn from bones, eyes being eaten while the person struggles to survive. It was genuinely chilling in a way that horror fiction doesn't normally affect me. I'm quite anesthetized to that kind of horror but James Herbert who can influence me in that way.
The Rats is a short book that is entertaining and chilling in its descriptions. I enjoyed it immensely.
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on 6 June 2013
When I first read James Herbert's "The Rats" at the ripe old age of 13, I had no idea that the book itself was either Herbert's first book or that it was nearly 40 years old! It doesn't feel like a day over 5 years old to read, that's for damn sure!
This book has everything a spatter-punk horror novel should have: visceral sex; stratospheric levels of violence and the ability to get under your skin with the descriptions of the antagonists and the unbelievable acts they commit.
Herbert influenced the writing styles of a generation of horror authors, such as Richard Laymon; Shaun Hutson; Ramsay Campbell and Graham Masterton. This book is as potent and exhilerating to read now as it was 39 years ago. Buy it; read it; treasure it and thank me for it later! :)
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on 8 August 2014
The rats is a great horror book for young readers eager for blood, guts and other gory topics. The story line is different to usual books but incredibly effective. This is one of my favourite books and I would suggest it to anyone who asks me for a book on the genre of horror. I shall carry on reading many more books by James Herbert and I'm sure I will enjoy them as much as I did this.

The determined character of Harris towards not just the extermination of the mutant rats, but to his strong relationship with Judy makes the reader feel almost passionate about his feelings in life. Also, the death of many people and animals made him feel angry which made his perseverance towards the extermination of the rats stronger. It was so strong that he chose to stay and fight for the safety of his people. This shows great courage which is, in a way, a lesson in life.

The detail in this book caused me to be scared at some points, even giving me nightmares some nights. For the first time I have experienced many jump scares whilst reading this book. I would say this book is easily worth a 5-star rating for the detail and well thought story line. Well done James Herbert. RIP
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on 8 June 2012
If you love horror, not the unbelievable sort but something that you feel could happen and in my opinion all the more creepy because of that then here is the first book in the RATS trilogy that will definitely send a chill down your spine and leave you wanting to read the next two 'lair' and 'domain'. A must read for lovers of true horror
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on 6 November 2012
This is the second James Herbert book I have read my first was 48 witch I enjoyed a lot. I work in a charity shop sorting out the books and I like following a range of Arthur's works from thriller to horror James Herbert is a writer I would not normally follow but being Halloween an all thought I would give him another try and I am glad I did.
It is a simple little story rats invade London and start killing people thats it. But Herbert writes in a chilling grusham way that makes you fear what is about to happen next.
I will defo be reading more of this brilliant writer's work may be lair and domain, makes a nice change from watching my usual Halloween zombie movie now
(I need to eat some brains, I m a lonely zombie give me brains ! ! !
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on 4 November 2015
ONE THING AN EXPERIENCED reader (that is, horror fan) should pick up from the opening few chapters of this classic story of gore is that there are horror stories, and then there are *horror* stories. Tales of woe and desperation and evil that are so gruesome and so violent and so depraved that the reader is almost too scared to turn the page, and dichotomously, too scared not too.

In some respects, THE RATS is like this. To begin with, the gruesome factor is sky high. The acts of violence by the rats against their initial set of human victims is so shocking that readers new to the genre may well put the book down and never return, and yet seasoned readers may well find their eyes lighting up and an idiotic grin appearing suddenly and inexplicably across their face simultaneously. And the atmosphere is top notch.

And yet the book is not perfect. For starters, it is badly showing its age, especially from a political correctness point of view. Man and woman make beautiful, passionate love at night and wake up together. Nothing wrong with that, apart from the fact that the male’s first few sentences of the day comprise the dreaded order to get up and cook his breakfast. Of course she does, and with a smile on her face, too. Seriously?

On the plus side, the writing is simple, and fast paced. The scares are there, and they are completely and utterly legitimate. The further this story goes on, moreover, the more you get used to the time freeze nature of the characters and you suddenly realise that you have become one with this particular version of Eastern London.

In summary, then: one may well suspect that the lucky ones in THE RATS are the ones that died early on in the book, instead of living to face the unimaginable. And of course, dying a horrible unimaginable death.

Four stars for a classic story of horrific, gory violence that is more like a trip down (a dark and twisted) memory lane.

BFN Greggorio!
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on 4 July 2014
After reading and enjoying Herbert's The Fog more than any other book I have read I decided to read the next book he wrote and have to say this like The Fog is truly brilliant and much more scarier than that book.
Rats are not creatures i'm really scared of and watch them on movies or tv fine but after this I won't look at them like I used to.
The story tells of gigantic mutant rats that breed with our normal sized ones to create a super size version and the way Herbert describes them is that they are very very big and a lot of normal size ones would freak people out but lots of these size and they could easily take over.
The scenes are truly nerve shredding and will creep you out believe me and this writer isn't afraid to include all types in the attacks with other animals and even children not safe in this story.
My favourite chapters include a attack by the rats in a zoo,a cinema,a school and a truly finger nail biting scene in the underground by a train but the best is the finale when our hero sees so many rats it looks like a black river going through London,you will be blown away at it.
The characters are good but not as good as The Fog but the lead character is a truly brilliant and you believe in him all the way no matter how many rats stand in the way.
Some stories are far fetched and this is a tad but with some countries in real life having very big rodents in there this is something that could happen more than some stories.
A truly epic novel and having now also read the equally stunning sequel Lair I now am about to start the finale to the trilogy Domain and hope it matches these classics.
Just try going near or even just looking at a rat again the same way after reading this.
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