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River Rats

3.46  ·  Rating details ·  223 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
A paddle wheeler cruises up the Mississippi, delivering mail and hosting an occasional concert. A scene straight out of the nineteenth century? Not quite. This Mississippi is a toxic brown river. And the paddle wheeler is run by the River Rats, a troop of orphans who survived the Flash, a nuclear holocaust. What were once huge cities are now plague-ridden ruins haunted by ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published October 1st 2005 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published 1992)
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Sherwood Smith
Jul 21, 2013 added it
Shelves: sf

I believe we are right in the middle of a Golden Age in YA Literature. There are so many wonderful books being published, yet there are many older ones that should not be left to languish. These are the ones that hold up well, that add to the fireworks display of story, voice, and ideas happening in YA fiction these days.

Such a book is Caroline Stevermer’s River Rats, first brought out by Jane Yolen Books (Harcourt) in 1992, and reissued subsequently.

The story begins after the ``Flash'' (an unex
Alex Reynolds
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Katie Tender
Jan 12, 2014 rated it did not like it

This book was kinda terrible. I started it out not expecting great things, just a run-of-the-mill post-apocalyptic quick read. Still, it was surprisingly bad. I couldn't decide whether to give it a 1 or a 2, so since Goodreads doesn't allow .5 stars, it gets a 1.

Having read (and decided not to read) many post-apocalyptic books, I would say that this one's plot is marginal at best. Furthermore, since its seemingly arbitrarily selected target audience is young adult, it has to employ weak plo
Apr 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
I thought the book was good. It was different from most post-apocalyptic books I read and I thought that the idea of having hope in a time like that is ideal to me. I also like the fact that they used different characters to show the differences between gangs or groups. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys adventure based stories.

For those who have not read it, the book is about a group of orphans who are in charge of a paddle boat that they use to travel throughout the post-apocalyp
David Montes
Mar 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
On the Mississippi river orphans called Rats are running a steam boat call the river rat delivering mail to the few towns residing on the banks are bombarded by a passenger. Toby the captain of the river rat thinks this is bad luck. Sure enough King the pasenger is being chased by Lesters because he told them he knew of a secret tomb that held guns. In this post apocolypitic world if you have guns people will now down to you as their king. After the boat gets stuck in a sand bar the Lesters catc ...more
In spite of a promising premise, a band of orphans delivering news and entertainment up and down a toxic, post apocalyptic Mississippi River in a restored riverboat, the plot and characters of "River Rats" seem sadly bland and plodding. The orphans feel interchangeable and I never really got into the motivations of any of them, most of all Tomcat, the first person narrator who seems only to exist to be present at the events. The rats find themselves breaking an arbitrary rule when they rescue th ...more
This was a fun book, but pretty thin overall. The premise is pretty cool - a riff on Mark Twain where the kids riding the river are dealing with the after effects of the apocalypse rather than slavery. Plus, I have to say that the idea of a river boat instead of the cars that are used in most post-apoc stories was clever, and I loved the idea of after the end rock and roll. However, the story doesn't really manage to deliver on its premise. The kids only spend around half the book on the River R ...more
Ms. Myers
This book is called river rats its by Caroline Stervermer book is about a paddle boat that sails through a toxic Mississippi river after a nuclear bomb that washed the states on that boat are orphans. They watch the river for survivors. One day there was an old man running out to the river and there were 5 guys chasing after him the guys who were chasing him looked like they got sunburned in there faces they were big like buff. When they saved the old guy from the river they asked him what happ ...more
Neill Smith
Aug 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The River Rats are a group of escaped orphans who lived on the River Rat, a steam paddlewheeler that runs up and down a polluted Mississippi River many years after the Flash has devastated the landscape and the population of the area. They earn food and goods by delivering mail and playing music at the various settlements that still exist along the river but they dare not go ashore due to the gangs of wild boys and mean people who ransack and pillage communities for their food and water. However ...more
Jul 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Liked the book a great deal. The narrator Tomcat has a great sense of humor. There were times I laughed out loud at the exchange between the characters. A post-apocalyptic book set on the Mississippi River in the Wisconsin/Minnesota region. Some of the cities retain their names, and some are renamed slightly but you can work them out. The city of Pig's Eye is actually Minneapolis, going by its original name.
Aug 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
I read this as a consideration for a classroom read - it would have fit with the project-based learning theme of the Mississippi River. However, I've decided that I will definitely not be teaching this book. The story is predictable, the characters lack depth and development, and the world-building leaves much to be desired.

Recommended for people who don't mind predictability and are looking for a quick post-apocalyptic read.
Dec 15, 2008 rated it liked it
After the "flash" that destroyed the States, six orphans run a paddle wheeler up and down a toxic brown Mississippi river. When they rescue a stranger from the poisonous river and from the gang following on the bank, their world changes again.
Unusual, different, I enjoyed it with reservations. Just can't put my finger on what the reservations are. Maybe just because it made me feel uncomfortable and somewhat sad.
Apr 04, 2010 rated it liked it
The concept of this book was pretty interesting, but it never quite lived up to its promise. I never felt all that connected to the characters until the last third of the book. I didn't feel like the author gave a good reason for why the Rats would take an old man aboard when they threw others in the river who tried to forcefully board their steamer. Definitely not Caroline Stevermer's best writing.
May 19, 2008 rated it it was ok
i liked the idea of this book. its post industrial collapse and 6 orphans take over a steam boat on the mississippi and survive by playing rock shows to people on the land who trade them with food, mail, news and stories. but the execution was totally weak, the plot contrived and the characters were undeveloped.

sad! :(
Jul 02, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: teen, funny
Tomcat is part of the crew of the River Rat, a paddle wheeler running mail, never passengers, up and down the river. At 7 miles an hour, she is the fastest thing on the river since the Flash and neotyphus. Now theyt have an unwanted passenger, King, and more unwanted company in the Lesters, who are hunting King. Is this the end of the River Rat?
Jared Conti
Jul 16, 2015 rated it it was ok
This was okay. It took 150 pages to get to the meaty part of the action, but by then there wasn't enough time to spend really getting into it. Unresolved love issues, not enough post-apocalyptic shenanigans, and long chapters made for a bit of a disappointing read. It's over twenty years old, maybe that's it?
Jun 07, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, fiction
I hadn't read this book since I was ten, but I found in on my bookshelf the other day and read it in a couple of hours. I still liked it. Oh my god I am terrible at reviews.

My recommendation was too long, but it was this: "people who like post-apocalyptic books or books where bands of [pre]adolescents band together to survive." I am both of those people. By the way.
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
Not bad. I think it was better the first time I read it, i.e. it's not the kind of thing you re-read. Or at least it's not the kind of thing I re-read. This is a bit of a departure for Stevermer. Or at least, if she's written, say, short stories that are more science fictional, I'm not aware of them.
Aug 22, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who want their post-apocalyptic stories with a little less decay
A post-apocalyptic paddle-steamer ride down the Mississip' that combines a teenage crew of itinerant rockers with a posse hunting down a horse thief. Nothing like anything else I've read by Stevermer, who's more of a "will you have a crumpet with your tea? one lump or two?" kind of writer.
Apr 13, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a good, solid kids' book.

Imagine the world of Huck Finn with a little bit of Peter Pan's Lost Boys thrown in for good measure, and you've got yourself a winner. :)
Sep 24, 2008 rated it liked it
Different from her others, but well written and a fun read.
Sep 03, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: youngadult, 2008
I liked her other fantasy books better. This one just didn't quite have enough meat for me to feel satisfied.
Sep 28, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-sf
Straight-forward post-apocalyptic, kids on a riverboat adventure. Not very deep, but fun.
Dec 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
Awesome novel great for young adult readers.
Aug 26, 2011 rated it liked it
A group of orphans run a paddle-wheel steamboat on the Mississippi River in a post-apocalyptical world. They know passengers are bad luck, but they help a fugitive adult anyway.
Feb 27, 2010 rated it liked it
this was a really funny book you dudes should really read it this book i think is is awesome
rated it really liked it
Apr 11, 2011
Carissa Brown
rated it really liked it
Jan 20, 2013
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Nov 04, 2011
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(from website)
Caroline Stevermer grew up miles from anywhere on a dairy farm in southeastern Minnesota. She has a sister and two brothers. After high school, she attended Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, where she earned a B.A. degree in the history of art. She knew she wanted to be a writer when she was eight years old. She began by writing stories in her school notebooks. (They were not good.
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