Book One in Herbert’s classic “rats” series.
The terror begins. London is struck by an invasion. Women, children, old and young, none are safe from the deadly menace. The attacks are swift and sure, escape is impossible. A state of emergency is declared. Evacuation seems the only solution in the face of a growing panic and mounting death toll. War is declared on the public enemy number one. The Rats!
Author: James Herbert
Narrator: David Rintoul
Publisher: Audible Studios
Audio Release Date: 25/10/2013
Running Time: 6 hrs 14 mins
Series: The Rats #1
My Rating of ‘The Rats’: 4 out of 5
Purchase: Audible UK, Audible US, Amazon UK, Amazon US
I had heard great things about this book, and the series in general so, when I saw it for sale as part of the Audible Daily Deal I leapt at the chance to buy.
Upon starting it, I inwardly groaned at the fact that the ‘short scene featuring the death of everyone involved followed by a main character reacting to each scene later on’ filled me with dread. It was a format I hated in ‘The Dark’ and I just felt the six hours of this audio book were going feel like they dragged on for sixty.
I was pleasantly surprised that, although Herbert uses the same format that I hated with ‘The Dark’, he does it in such a way that it feels like each of the small, isolated scenes feel like a solid part of the main narrative. This, I felt was lacking in ‘The Dark’ which just felt like a jumble of short story pieces hobnailed together with a slender thread of main story. So I am massively thankful that Herbert handled this one so well.
Because the main ‘villains’ are rats and they have such a dark history with our species (they will never truly live down the hatred from the days of the Black Death) it was easy to get a sense of dread as the story unfolded. As fictional as the events in this novel are, we have a genetic memory of sorts as regards to rats that just make us know that something like this was possible and could be possible again. So bravo to James Herbert for grabbing our underlying fears of such things and running with them.
After ‘The Dark’ I was really starting to worry that Herbert wasn’t for me. With ‘The Rats’ I have since realised that the other book was a bump in what will hopefully be an otherwise smooth road of horror enjoyment. For me ‘The Rats’ was an easy, fast-paced and exciting book to devour and, even though there was no human enemy with which to hate, the almost hive-mind mentality of the rats in this novel made for an easy villain to rally against.
When first starting this book I didn’t expect I would be saying that I look forward to the next in the series, but I can’t help but get excited for it. As a reader there is no better experience than discovering you really enjoy a book you had serious doubts over. It’s like doing a blind taste test and getting that overwhelming sense of pleasure/relief as what you’ve just popped into your mouth is utterly delectable.
My one slight dislike would be that some of the minor characters feel more like page fodder and a slightly rushed attempt at adding depth to an otherwise short novel. Harris’ love interest feels more like an excuse for James Herbert to write sex scenes or an abundance of foreplay/pubic hair play … but aside from that it’s a pretty solid novel and one I am happy to have picked up.
That slight downside out of the way, ‘The Rats’ ended in such a way that has me intrigued by the sequel. I can only hope the following books keep up such a pace.