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Rat Life

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  266 ratings  ·  65 reviews
The dead body found in the river has nothing to do with Todd. Sure, a murder is big news, but what would really interest him? A paying job. Then he meets Rat, who's already been to Vietnam. And when he offers Todd a gig at the drive-in theater, Todd takes it. But hanging out with Rat leads to a host of perplexing questions. More and more, that corpse from the river is on T ...more
ebook, 208 pages
Published April 5th 2007 by Puffin Books
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 512)
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Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
At first I thought I wasn't going to like this book, especially since Arnold is a picture book writer and this is his first novel. Some of the main character's writings were pretty gaggy. (Of course, it didn't help that I was eating while I was reading those parts!). The last half of the book, though, really grabbed me, and I couldn't put it down until it was finished. It's a mystery, but the mystery isn't really the focus of the book; it's the relationship between Todd and Rat and what it teach ...more
Sandi
I read Rat Life last summer and just finished reading it to my seventh graders. They loved it! It is set in Elmira, NY during the '72 flood. The storyline is a bit intense for middle schoolers, but I think the concepts were important things to discuss. Tedd Arnold is a famous local children's book writer/illustrator. Rat Life is his first young adult book. Paul& I got to meet him last week when he visited the students for a book talk. What a great experience!
Kody

This book wasn't good until close to the end.At the beginning of the book it was kind of slow, but in the end it was pretty good. It started off slow because Todd was doing boring things like complaining about the chores he had to do and not getting an allowance. In the end Todd bikes to Rats house in the rain and finds Rats dad dead in the hall with a bullet wound. Then he turns around and Rat is there with a shotgun pointing it at Todd.
One day Todd was out riding his bike and he saw a little
...more
Kate
I loved RAT LIFE, Tedd Arnold's first foray into young adult literature. The writing is funny at times and always fresh, and Arnold uses his main character's interest in the craft of writing to make some keen observations about the process.

This book made me laugh one minute and gasp in shock the next. Its narrator, Todd, is a would-be writer growing up in Upstate NY in 1972. In the first pages of the book, he hears about a body found in a river and meets a mysterious character who calls himself
...more
Jim
I can see how this won the Best Young Adult Edgar Award in 2008. The writing is tight; the type of craftsmanship that makes writing look easy. The mystery is not all that mysterious but then it's not meant to be. The star here are the three-dimensional characters and the intertwining relationships.
Arnold, known primarily for his picture books, turns 180 degrees with this tale; it's dark and oft-times presents disturbing images. While geared toward a young adult audience, this is not Harry Potter
...more
Jabiz Raisdana
I don't remember how this book entered my universe, but I am glad it did, and I hope it also enters yours. It is not a life changing book, but it is a solid murder mystery. Well-written and just gripping enough, this short novel is a perfect Just Right MS read. Most readers could read this in a few sittings and will benefit from being wrapped up in its darkness.

I love that the teen-age narrator is a writer and that the story takes place in 1972, with Post-Vietnam as the back drop. There is a lo
...more
Patricia
Tedd Arnold is charming, witty, clever, and a great speaker. He too was at IRC and while I didn't get to sit at his table, I was sitting next to him. My first favorite book of his is No Jumping On the Bed. Now I am anxious to read his first novel, already an Edgar award winner. I finished Rat Life, Arnolds YA novel, and can see how it was chosen for the mystery award. At least I think I can see. I had trouble pinning down literature related criteria beyond the genre of mystery or crime story. Th ...more
Marya
Yes, I found this in the teen mystery section, and yes, it is something of a mystery story (hence the subtitle), but it is certainly not a teen book. Yet again, some author thought the best way to write a book for teens was to write about his life as a teen, complete with Vietnam, drive-in movie theaters, transistor radios, and other obvious 70s references.

While it's true that teens today face a lot of hard things, including parents that should probably be permanently behind bars, it's unthinka
...more
Eileen Brian
Rat Life by Tedd Arnold is a book that would be best for those who enjoy reading historical fiction books, and are about fourteen years old. The book takes place during the Vietnam War. Rat, who is not the main character, has been to Vietnam. Todd, the main character, wants to learn more about rat and his life. A couple of days before Todd meet rat, a dead body was found in the river. Plus when rat and Todd meet, Todd was on the way home from school and he saw a puppy. He picked up the puppy but ...more
Ashley
The book I am reading is "Rat Life" by Tedd Arnold. This book is a young adult mystery,and it fits the kind of books I love to read. I thought at first I wasn't going to like the book because of the title, but as soon as I read the first page I couldn't stop reading it. The book so far is great because it is very suspenseful and entertaining. It's suspenseful because there was a murder in a nearby river and nobody knows what happened. I really want to know why there is a dead body in the river b ...more
Bella Watson
The reason I decided to read this book is because I was scouting the library for books and the cover really got my attention. What got my attention even more though was the "sneak peek" paragraph in the back of the book. Right away I knew I had heard the authors name somewhere, but I didn't realize until I had finished it that this was the authors first book for young adults. The hook of this book was very attention catching in my opinion. The way the whole story is written is just great. It may ...more
Julie
Jun 03, 2008 Julie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Elmira, NY residents, older YA readers
Recommended to Julie by: Mom, and the fact that it's a local author
Shelves: young-adult, mystery, 2008
Definitely an intriguing first novel. I picked it up because Tedd Arnold is a local author, and having read some of his children's books I was excited to see he'd tried out a new genre.

My first reaction to this book was shock. The book began with a few chapters that for various reasons contained some pretty disturbing imagery. I had been hoping to pass the book on to one of my nephews when I was done, but just the content of those first few chapters alone makes me doubt that I will do so. I had
...more
Kate
A decent read from Tedd Arnold, a fantastic children's author from my home town of Elmira, NY. This book was his first attempt at the genere known as young adult literature and I think he did a pretty good job with it.

The first part of this book is setting up the action and getting to know the characters. The second part is experiencing the action and figuring out the mystery.

This story is told in a compelling first person narration style by the main character Todd. It's a work of fiction, wher
...more
Books and Literature for Teens
It’s 1972.
What happens when your parents own a motel, your dad doesn’t believe in allowance, and your teacher caught you writing alien stories and made the whole class do a creative writing assignment?

After a tragic accident with a stray puppy, Todd meets a strange, but funny guy named Rat who offers him a job at a cheesy drive-in movie theater.
So far Todd’s summer is just dandy (minus the dead guy in the river) until a puke green car shows up for the second time). Then comes Rat’s strange reac
...more
Mrs. Hagedorn Hagedorn
This is a good, short mystery story!
"The dead body found in the Chemanga River has nothing to do with Todd. He’s been busy making beds at the family motel and writing alien stories to entertain his friends. Sure, a murder is big news, but what would really interest him? A paying job and a story line free of UFOs and poop jokes. And then he meets Rat. Just a little older than Todd, Rat’s already been to Vietnam and back. He’s got a tattoo and a messed-up family life. And when he offers Todd a gi
...more
Chris
The most impressive thing to me about Rat Life is the ease with which the author jumps from gross-out bathroom humor to graceful prose. (Perhaps that's the true mark of a great writer.) Ultimately, however, this story of an underage Vietnam War veteran is too much of a downer for my taste. Excerpt: "Your age? I was never your age. (silence) (R) When I was your age ... I was no age at all. I was nothing. Being some age? Doesn't mean anything if there's nobody to be that age for. (silence) (R) Kno ...more
Mandy Laferriere
It's 1972, and life in Todd's small New York town is pretty boring, until the police find a body in the river. Then he meets Rat, a mysterious guy who's just a little older than Todd, but has already fought in Vietnam. When Rat offers Todd a job at the drive-in movies where he works, Todd accepts, and gets to know the odd boy called Rat a little better. The more he learns, the more he wonders about Rat, the body in the river, and if they could be connected.

This is great writing, and I think thi
...more
Slizzards
Todd loves to write stories. But when a dead body is discovered in the river, he never imagined it ending up being connected to his new summer job working at the nearby theatre, or that his new friend Rat, would have anything to do with it. Reality suddenly turns out to be more interesting and surprising than any story he has written.

I picked this book up because the cover had gotten my attention, and I thought it was pretty cool.

I finished it because I was determined to find out what had actual
...more
chris law
This book was okay. Not that good, but I expected it would be talking about rats and their lives. I was totally wrong though. This book really talked about Todd Anthony, who is 14 years old. Todd likes to he goofs around with his pals but he helps out at his family's motel. Todd is a creative person and his notebook is full of drawings. He draws in his notebook to impress others and himself. Todd then meets a strange man named Rat. Todd learns that Rat is a Vietnam vet.
I would recommend this bo
...more
Hilary
The death of a puppy brings and unexpected friendship into Todd's life that leads to a murder mystery to be solved. A fan of Tedd Arnold's pictures books (Parts, Twin Princes, Fly Guy etc...) I was pleasantly surprised by his first young adult novel. The story moved a long at a thoughtful pace and wasn't overpowered by the murder mystery part, and focused more on the character of Todd and how the situation made him grow. The short stories by Todd and his friends added the characteristic Arnold h ...more
Joanna
I read it to proof it for content for the school library. It was good, not amazing and a must read, but not a waste of time either.
Faith
to say that i read this is sorta a lie; i only made it though the first 60 or so pages before putting it down. Normally I would never do that, but it's the holidays and I just can't do it. The writing is similar to other books I've read recently, but I cannot get into the story. It's solid just not engaging enough at the moment. If I wasn't reading it for a mock printz, I most likely wouldn't have picked this up.
For the benefit of the doubt, I might pick it up again during the spring when I don
...more
Michelle Crawford
It wasn't the best book I've ever read, but it was entertaining. A nice, quick, easy book to read.
Sharon
This is a curious book. I can't quite figure out who it is written for. It tells of a young man who makes a new friend by the name of Rat. Rat encourages Todd to work with him at a nearby drive-in movie. In the course of their friendship they encounter two dead bodies, one drunk mother, a dead puppy. and a flood. The characters are likable for the most part (not including the dead people and the drunk mother). But, as I said, I can't figure out who this story would really appeal to - maybe teena ...more
Casey
At first Rat Life started out pretty good but then got slow in the middle. The end of the book was really good.To me it really didnt seem like a mystery and it wasnt all that suprising to me on what happend at the end.So basically i never had a feeling of a mystery book that much but overall it was a good book.
Sarah
Humph. Not sure what to think about this Edgar-Award-winning novel. Too many exclamation marks for a teen boy narrator. A few cheesy lines, but some underclassmen boys could find this little read interesting.

Todd befriends Rat, a Vietnam veteran at age 17, and the two start a strange friendship. Rat's home-life stinks and when a body is found in the river, Todd wonders if war veterans really can snap. The Chemanga River flood of 1972 adds an adventurous climax to the teen mystery.
Vicki
Todd works at his parents motel, cleaning rooms and doing other maintenance, and watching Grandma. He meets a guy named Rat who is actually a Vietnam vet and Rat asks him to work at the local drive-in theatre. Todd actually is a good writer and is challenged by a teacher at the high school to write stories. This book is mysterious, has you think about relationships with people you don't really know and with those who you do know. Very good
Dawn
I liked this book very much, it reminded me some of Runaway. Probably the way in which it was written. Cool mystery that moved well, but the historical element just sort of hung there and the author didn't do as much with that as he probably could have. While I liked the book and would recommend it for high school the language and content are just too strong to make the middle school list.
WCPL Teens
Todd likes to write stories, especially ones involving people he knows. When a dead body is discovered in the river, he never imagines it would end up being linked to his new summer job helping out at the drive-in, or that his new friend Rat, who served in Vietnam, would have anything to do with it. Real life suddenly turns out to be more interesting than any story he's written.
Lizzie K
Aug 27, 2007 Lizzie K rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: middle school
A great "boy book" -- mystery, murder, natural disasters, and a few hilariously gross anecdotes. I wish that the characters had been a little more developed, though -- I didn't feel any strong attachment to them and felt like too much of an observer. I guess that's necessary when one of the main characters is the center of the mystery, but it left me feeling like there could be more.
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Tedd grew up with three brothers. His family lived on a farm in Pennsylvania for several years then returned to Elmira until Tedd was ten years old. His father's work then required that they move to Gainesville, Florida. There, Tedd's first art lessons in an abandoned dentist's office over the Happy Hour pool hall eventually led to a fine arts degree from the University of Florida.

He and his wife,
...more
More about Tedd Arnold...
Parts (Parts, #1) Hi! Fly Guy (Fly Guy, #1) More Parts (Parts, #2) There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Fly Guy (Fly Guy, #4) Fly High, Fly Guy! (Fly Guy, #5)

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“Mom always taught me not to use the word hate. As if it were profanity.” 13 likes
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