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4.0 67
by Diana Peterfreund

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Forget everything you ever knew about unicorns . . .

Real unicorns are venomous, man-eating monsters with huge fangs and razor-sharp horns. Fortunately, they've been extinct for a hundred and fifty years.

Or not.

Astrid had always scoffed at her eccentric mother's stories about killer unicorns. But when one of the monsters attacks her


Forget everything you ever knew about unicorns . . .

Real unicorns are venomous, man-eating monsters with huge fangs and razor-sharp horns. Fortunately, they've been extinct for a hundred and fifty years.

Or not.

Astrid had always scoffed at her eccentric mother's stories about killer unicorns. But when one of the monsters attacks her boyfriend—thereby ruining any chance of him taking her to the prom—Astrid finds herself headed to Rome to train as a unicorn hunter at the ancient cloisters the hunters have used for centuries.

However, at the cloisters all is not what it seems. Outside, the unicorns wait to attack. And within, Astrid faces other, unexpected threats: from the crumbling, bone-covered walls that vibrate with a terrible power to the hidden agendas of her fellow hunters to—perhaps most dangerously of all—her growing attraction to a handsome art student . . . an attraction that could jeopardize everything.

Editorial Reviews

Scott Westerfeld
“As swift and sure-footed as a killer unicorn, RAMPANT weaves a vibrant new mythology from venerable threads.”
“Tired of Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Try Astrid the unicorn hunter.”
Children's Literature - Judy Silverman
Is fairyland the happy place imagined in childhood? When does one realize that the real fairlyland is not exactly evil but perhaps amoral? Astrid Llewelyn, sixteen, really does not want to think about unicorns. Her mother, Lilith, thinks and talks about them all the time. Lilith is sure that "unicorns are man-eating monsters. They don't have wings, they aren't lavender or sparkly, and you could never catch one to ride without its goring you through the sternum . . . you'd die from the deadly poison in its horn." And far from being extinct, they have been in hiding for 150 years. Now the "Resurgence" is beginning, and all four types of unicorns have started to attack. Household pets are not safe. Neither are men or "sexually active" women of any age. Lilith has been in touch with a group of people who say they want to train warriors to destroy the unicorns, and she has decided to send Astrid to Rome. The descriptions of that city make it seem very real. But could Lilith and Astrid actually be descended from the line of unicorn hunters who were active during the days of Alexander the Great? This page-turner, is especially for fans of the genre, and the reader will end up "knowing" a great deal about things that never happened. But it is very easy to suspend disbelief here. Unfortunately unicorns have this "thing" about virgins. A young reader needs to be old enough and sufficiently sophisticated to cope with a description of date rape and a male character who is quite unethical. Reviewer: Judy Silverman
Publishers Weekly
This compelling new adventure, Peterfreund's (Secret Society Girl) YA debut, introduces an international cast of strong young women, virginal descendants of Alexander the Great, who hunt an unusual breed of monster: unicorns. Sixteen-year-old narrator Astrid Llewelyn never believed her mother's stories about unicorns—portrayed as bloodthirsty, venomous and near impossible to kill—until one impales the boy she's seeing. Sent to Rome (unwillingly) to train with other huntresses in response to the “Reemergence” of the supposedly extinct creatures, Astrid makes new friends and enemies, hones her powers and finds time for a little romance, while coming to grips with her new life (“Forgive me if enforced lifelong celibacy and possible death by dismemberment and poisoning don't exactly get me excited,” she gripes). But she soon suspects (as will readers) that the war against the unicorns isn't so cut-and-dried. With an atmospheric setting, personable ensemble cast and some reasoned discussions about virginity, this gripping page-turner evokes the same grrl-power spirit as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, packed with action, mystery and a complex and intriguing mythology. Ages 12–up (Aug.)
VOYA - Walter Hogan
Sixteen-year-old Astrid seems to be an ordinary suburban high school student, but after saving her boyfriend from a savage attack, she discovers that her true destiny is to become a unicorn hunter. This long, muddled urban fantasy is based upon the wild premise that humans can survive the bloodthirsty ravages of killer unicorns only when defended by a handful of female descendents of Alexander the Great—and only so long as these intrepid teen warriors remain virgins. Naturally that little job requirement evokes considerable tension as Astrid and her nubile companions fend off "carnivorous bovids" and ardent boyfriends with equal panache. Peterfreund's kick-ass heroine is squarely in the Buffy tradition, maintaining a lively teen social life while vanquishing monsters in her spare time. A few genuine historical references to unicorn mythology and Renaissance art are carelessly mixed in with fantastic absurdities, such as man-eating unicorns that are impervious to bullets and take no harm in falling from great heights but can readily be killed by swords or arrows wielded by certain teenage girls. Some story elements are so campy and over-the-top that one is tempted to laugh at supposedly dramatic moments. This is Peterfreund's first YA book; she is best known for her Secret Society Girl series featuring the romances and intrigues of Ivy League coeds. The open-ended conclusion of this unicorn fantasy suggests that it is the first of a planned series about Astrid and her gang of virginal unicorn hunters. Reviewer: Walter Hogan
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Unicorns are not magical, sparkly creatures of fairy tale, but violent, venomous beasts that could only be killed by virgin girls descended from Alexander the Great and that were hunted to extinction more than a century ago—or so Astrid Llewelyn's mother always told her. Naturally, the 16-year-old is dismayed to learn that all but the last part is true. Like her ancestors, Astrid fits the criteria for a unicorn hunter, and her obsessed-with-glory mom sends her off to Italy to train for battle against the latest wave of unicorn attacks. The scientifically inclined Astrid is reluctant to enter this mysticism-laced world, but her interest is piqued by research into the Remedy, a panacea somehow connected to the unicorns. Astrid is a believably strong and reluctant heroine, but only a few of her fellow hunters emerge as fully developed characters. Bloody battles abound, but the book is at its best when the characters discuss the moral and social aspects of their situation. How does a cloistered order dedicated to exterminating a species fit in with modern ideas of feminism and environmentalism? The hunters must be virgins, and Astrid and the others discuss the fact that they often feel pressured by their peers to have sex. A solid addition for libraries needing to beef up their girl-centric fantasy-adventure collections.—Christi Esterle, Parker Library, CO
Kirkus Reviews
Killer unicorns. They're supposed to be extinct, the last one killed by Astrid Llewelyn's great-great-great-great-great-aunt Clothilde, but when one gores her boyfriend in their Seattle suburb, the 16-year-old is sent by her unicorn-obsessed mother to a cloister in Rome. Along with a gaggle of other girls, all virgins, descendants of Alexander the Great and immune to unicorn venom, Astrid trains to be a unicorn hunter and learns more about the mythology-or truth?-of these man-eating creatures, the antithesis of pink and sparkly. Funding the venture and looking for a modern-day antivenin is Marten Jaeger of Gordian Pharmaceuticals. Although it raises ethical and feminist issues, this story line, as well as others, never fully develops. Astrid's first-person narration reveals her initial skepticism and budding heroism, but leaves most of the other characters flat and stereotyped. The author's slow-paced YA debut raises many unanswered questions (e.g., how can a 2,300-year-old unicorn the size of an elephant hide in Rome?), but if readers can suspend belief, they will find a fresh folklore twist amid the wave of vampires and zombies. (Fantasy. YA)
Tamora Pierce
“RAMPANT is a thrilling read, with strong girls, unusual and scary unicorns, and hidden dangers everywhere. I was on the edge of my seat from start to finish! Please, miss: might I have some more?”

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.40(d)
750L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

What People are Saying About This

Scott Westerfeld
“As swift and sure-footed as a killer unicorn, RAMPANT weaves a vibrant new mythology from venerable threads.”

Meet the Author

Diana Peterfreund is the author of many books for adults and children, including the critically acclaimed For Darkness Shows the Stars and Across a Star-Swept Sea. She lives with her family outside Washington, DC, in a house full of bookshelves, and is always on the lookout for lost cities or stray rocket ships.

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Rampant 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 67 reviews.
acsimps More than 1 year ago
I actually received this book my mistake when ordering on line but I decided to give it a shot. The premise is a little strange but the story is interesting. I wish that it would have included more information at the end. A chapter explaining what happens after the big "battle" would have been good. The character names made it seem a little silly as well. If you love supernatural/fantasy books but need a change of pace from the current vampire/werewolf frenzy then this might be what you are looking for. If nothing else it provides good conversation. "yeah, I am reading a book about unicorn hunters who protect people from venomous unicorns with razor sharp teeth that try to eat people!" lol
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Think unicorns are sweet, magical horse-like creatures? Think again!

Diana Peterfreund introduces us to the darker side of unicorns in her novel RAMPANT. Peterfreund's unicorns are man-eating monsters. They can kill with poison in their horns, rip someone apart with their sharp teeth, and some have breath that can kill (literally).

Astrid Llewelyn has listened to her mother's crazy stories about extinct man-eating unicorns for years. Astrid never believed the stories - until the night her date ended up on the sharp end of a unicorn horn.

Now her mother's stories are all too real, and Astrid is sent to Rome for training as a unicorn hunter. She meets a group of other virgin descendants of Alexander the Great, and together they train to hunt and kill unicorns.

But Astrid doesn't want to be a hunter.

I enjoyed reading RAMPANT. There was some sexual tension and scenes of passion, as well as discussion about sex, but not enough to bother me. I'd recommend this for older readers 14+ because of the content.

I enjoyed the characters and learning about their lives. Astrid is strong, and yet vulnerable enough to make her real. The characters and their lives will run Rampant in my memory for a long time, but in a good way.
OfCourseHesMine More than 1 year ago
I have just started this book and I must say, it is very unique in it's story-line. Lately, it seems all the newest books are vampires. I say "MOVE OVER VAMPS!" We've got us some evil unicorns ready to rock the world. I hate putting this book down at school and can't wait to finish it. So far, I love it. It is sure to take your mind off the real world.
JustChristine More than 1 year ago
I picked up a copy of Diana Peterfreund's "Rampant" the day it was released, and from the moment I began reading it I was completely absorbed in the story. I found it hard to put down, even when I knew I should be working instead of reading (shh, don't tell my boss)! Diana really seems to have done her homework on this one - she paints amazing, vivid pictures of locations, characters, and even mythical beasts. That her main character grapples with the thought of virginity's worth (an issue that many young women are faced with) is an especially interesting touch, one which I don't remember reading about in any young adult fiction that was available to me as a kid. In fact, though this book is sold as YA fiction, I feel like it's accessible to adults as well, and have recently pitched it to my book club as our September read!
Lindsey_Miller More than 1 year ago
I read this book while I was at a weekend reunion with some of my college friends, and the first line of the synopsis became a running joke among us: "Forget everything you ever knew about." fill in blank. However, even in this text, that's not entirely true anyway. There are several different types of unicorns, but they're mostly still horse-like with a horn on the end of their heads. They still largely embody the image that comes to mind for the unicorn, just not the mythology surrounding it. The premise of the book was also a bit of a running joke, but these particular friends are lit nerds, so something like Rampant or even Harry Potter is likely to be scoffed at. Give me dry, literary realism or give me death! I can say, though, to the readers who love nothing more that to lose themselves in high-octane fantasy thriller that this book will leave you disappointed. Astrid, the narrator and main character, is wretchedly, painfully, make me want to punch myself in the face whiney throughout the entire book. Oh, I feel so bad for you Astrid-you poor, poor soul. You mean to tell me that you have super unicorn hunting powers that enable you to be part of an ancient secret society with all sorts of killer perks, and all you want to do is be a normal girl who loses her virginity at prom? Sorry, but I don't buy it. Stephanie Meyer's writing may not be stellar, but she really sells the vampire mythology in a way that makes you want to be part of it. I'm sorry Diana, I think you have a great concept for what could be a very engaging new sort of fantasy world that people want to be part of, but you didn't do the best job convincing us we should care. Perhaps it would have been better told from the perspective of one of the unicorn hunters who did want to be there, and loved nothing more than the thrill of driving that knife through the throat of the blood-thirsty, one-horned beast. I want to know more about the fantasy, the history, and the magical powers that the girls have. More or less, they're not great at hunting unicorns, they sit on a chair which gives them special powers, and then they're great at hunting unicorns, soon culminating in a 'final battle' that blurs by in just a few pages. Alas, maybe we'll see a better sequel. -Lindsey Miller, www.lindseyslibrary.com
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just wish she would write the last book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She st there her fox tail twitching. (If you dont know what an anthro is ask me)
acornucopiaoflove More than 1 year ago
When I first heard about this book, I had no idea that is was set in the present day, but it was definitely the type of book I needed as a pick-me-up from the mid-semester drag. The story was unique (killer unicorns, enough said), and I'm now eagerly anticipating the sequel. Plot: After Astrid is forced by her mother to move to the cloisters, in Italy, to train as a unicorn hunter, she's confronted with danger, romance, and questions about her heritage. Her new roommate, Cory, is hell bent on destroying all unicorns, and despite all of the lore, no one really seems to know what to expect. Of course, this all changes over the course of the book. We learn more about who the hunters were, why Cory has a particular hatred toward the creatures, and just how dangerous hunting can be. Astrid also has run-ins with a unicorn, Bucephalus, who has some historical ties to Alexander the Great (so, you can imagine how much I loved that aspect). One thing that I love about Peterfreund is that her work is never predictable. The story never dragged, and I was on the edge of my seat. Characters:Astrid's growth over the course of the book felt very real, and at various points in the story I sympathized with her. Overall, she was an intriguing character that I look forward to reading more about. One of the many great things about Peterfruend's writing is how strong her female characters are. In this book, as well as her other series, the women break free from gender stereotypes. Astrid, Phil, and Amy (from her other series) portray strength, knowledge, and power. I could rave about this particular aspect of her writing all day, and it's a characteristic that I really appreciate in YA lit.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very awesome violent and cool!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put this book down. It was amazing!
wordforteens More than 1 year ago
It didn't live up to the reviews I read. I mean, the concept of the novel was great! I loved the unicorns and adored the plotline. The way it was written, however... The scenes seemed squashed together: I need this this this that and that to happen, so let's make it happen. Rampant could easily have been stretched out into a trilogy, each part dissected more thoroughly and made into a much better read. I didn't really get into the I-want-to-know-what-happens next mode until about page 240, where Astrid really begins to connect with her power. Even then, though, Astrid as a character isn't consistent throughout the entire novel. Her personality constantly shifts and her thought process changes - normal, yes, but not to the extent that it happens with Astrid. Her mother, too, is a huge problem. There seem to be three different versions of the character that Peterfreund toyed with, and she seems to have decided to use all of them at different points: the crazy-but-normal, the crazy-psychotic, and the crazy-depressed. They're all equally frustrating. Parts of the plot were rather frustrating, too. [SPOILER ALERT] The Remedy was never revealed, even though it was, apparently, a HUGE part of the plot. Um. Hello? Talking to the unicorns... through the mind. That would have been acceptable had it not been so sudden. Where did the Simon (I think that was his name), the man that raped Astrid's cousin, go? Apparently, that's important, but never revealed either. And learning how to hunt by sitting on a chair is rather anti-climatic. [/SPOILER ALERT] I do hope that there's a sequel; if there's not, I'll be rather disappointed.
RJAP More than 1 year ago
It's a pretty good read. Started the sequel, but felt like one book was enough.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was by far the best book I have ever read! Though I wouldn't reconmend for any one under 12 or 13.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is the bestest book ever
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terilhack More than 1 year ago
What can one not say about Rampant! This book is a unicorn revolution. I love the opening; reading a shiny fluffy unicorn story to some girls full of rainbows and smiles. Then enter the boyfriend taking a walk with a girl and wait..... Wait.... The freaking unicorn comes slavering and mauling the boys leg with it's twisted horrific horn into his flesh. This story was amazing. The snark was excellent. The characters were awesome. The flow of the whole book rocked. I cannot wait to run out and buy the next book asap it was so good. I was so happy with the book because the characters were so amazing and the dialog was so fun to read. I was not slow, there was not too much description or back plot. I am surprised I had not heard much about the book before I picked it up. Go read it! You will be surprised and enjoy Rampant.
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