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Rats Saw God

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In hopes of graduating, Steve York agrees to complete a hundred-page writing assignment which helps him to sort out his relationship with his famous astronaut father and the events that changed him from promising student to troubled teen.

In hopes of graduating, Steve York agrees to complete a hundred-page writing assignment which helps him to sort out his relationship with his famous astronaut father and the events that changed him...

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Rats Saw God

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In hopes of graduating, Steve York agrees to complete a hundred-page writing assignment which helps him to sort out his relationship with his famous astronaut father and the events that changed him from promising student to troubled teen.

In hopes of graduating, Steve York agrees to complete a hundred-page writing assignment which helps him to sort out his relationship with his famous astronaut father and the events that changed him from promising student to troubled teen.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In his first novel Thomas lays bare the pain, awkwardness and humor at the heart of one teenager's search for identity. Steve York has always lived in the long shadow cast by his too-perfect astronaut father. When his parents divorce just before he begins high school, Steve blames his father for the family's break-up, even though he doesn't know all the facts. Life with "the astronaut" (as Steve insists on calling him) is okay for a while as Steve juggles straight-As with a part-time job and hangs out with a wise-cracking crew of artsy, nonconformist cronies, one of whom, Dub, becomes his first love. But Dub's eventual betrayal causes Steve to flee his father's home and take a dive from scholar to stoner. His last chance for academic redemption lies in writing a 100-page paper for his new guidance counselor, a narrative that becomes the framework for this novel. Thomas, a former high school teacher, nails his setting with dead-on accuracy. The sharp descriptions of cliques, clubs and annoying authority figures will strike a familiar chord. The dialogue is fresh and Steve's intelligent banter and introspective musings never sound wiser than his years. Readers will likely enjoy the quick pace of Steve's journal-style flashbacks; on a deeper level, they will be moved by his emotional stumbles and impressed by his growing maturity. Ages 12-up. (June)
Children's Literature - Tim Whitney
High school senior Steve York is both a National Merit Scholar and a stoner. Unfortunately for him, he is also one English credit short of graduating. To make up the English credit, he accepts an offer from his counselor, Mr. DeMouy, to complete a hundred-page writing assignment on any topic of his choosing. He begins to write about his sophomore and junior years, enabling the reader to see what has caused this National Merit Scholar to become a stoner. His writing also enables Steve himself to see how much he is like his astronaut father whom he resents. It is obvious to see why this funny, realistic, well-written novel was discussed for a Newbery Award, but its graphic description of drug and alcohol abuse and of Steve's first sexual experience with his girlfriend will limit this book to a more mature young adult audience.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up"What happened in Texas?" asks Jeff DeMouy, the San Diego high school counselor trying to reach talented but stoned senior Steve York. The teen's 4.0 GPA has crashed so precipitously that he moves from Houston to live with his mother and her new husband. To fulfill a writing assignment that DeMouy requires for him to graduate, Steve begins to reflect on recent occurrences and his life in general. His first-person narrative flashes back to the years spent with his father, "the astronaut," whothe boy can't bring himself to recallwas either the third or fourth person to walk on the moon. Intelligent and mostly likable, Steve, along with his friends in the dadaist art study group at school, oozes a gently subversive strain of creativity. Through their club, he meets Dub nee Wanda, with whom he journeys from first kiss to first sex to first betrayal, when Dub abandons him for their creative-writing teacher. The dead-on description of life as a bright underachiever makes the gradually converging stories, past and present, a delightful, challenging read. From the intriguing title to the final page, layers of cynical wit and careful character development accumulate achingly in this beautifully crafted, emotionally charged story. Steve's coming-of-age is not a smooth ballistic parabola, but more a series of explosive changes in relationships. These changes suggest to YA readers that, though complex and difficult, it is this weird willingness to establish interconnectedness that makes being human such a trip. This robust first novel is so hip and cool and strong it hurts.Joel Shoemaker, Southeast Jr. High School, Iowa City, IA
Ilene Cooper
High-school senior Steve York isn't doing well. The former straight-A student is flunking, and his new friends are dopers. Where did it all go wrong? A counselor steps in and suggests Steve can write something to bring up his failing English grade. So Steve writes his story, and as the action flips between his former life in Texas and the present in California, readers will learn about Steve's cold war with his astronaut father, his dabbling with dadaism, and, most of all, his heavenly-hellish experience with first love. Thomas, a former high-school teacher, has a strong, funny voice, but the first-time novelist needs to learn how to trim a book; what should be left out is as important as what to put in. This is definitely for the YA crowd, not the preteens who often pick up this sort of book. The language is authentic, and a first-time sex scene, though not exactly graphic, has some memorable images ("I resisted the urge to cover the titanium love barometer between my legs. Was it the right size? The right shape? The right color?" ). The dadaist sensibility of the book's title and Chris Raschka's in-sync jacket illustration suit superbly.
Kirkus Reviews
Driven by a rigid, controlling father and a broken heart, an overachiever tries drug-induced alienation but can't quite bring it off in this funny, high-energy debut.

Given a choice between summer school and producing a hundred typewritten pages on any subject, high school senior Steve York taps out, a few pages at a time (and in a different typeface from the rest of the narrative), an account of his triumphant, traumatic junior year, from the high of falling in love with Dub, a classmate, to the low of finding her with a teacher late one night. In between, Thomas fills this—and a parallel plotline in which Steve straightens himself out in the course of his final semester—with subplots and set pieces: the rise and fall of the school's Dadaist club; dates, buying condoms, and fumbling through first sex; the thawing of Steve's relationship with his astronaut father. Readers will take heart from the way Steve grows past his rebellion as they laugh at the plethora of comic situations and sharply set up, well-executed punchlines.

From the Publisher
"Funny, smart, tough..."

— Chris Crutcher

"Rob Thomas is like a house afire."

— Paul Zindel

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442459762
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 3/5/2013
  • Pages: 216
  • Sales rank: 1,408,228
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Lexile: 900L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Rob Thomas is the creator and executive producer of the television series Veronica Mars. He is also a cocreator and executive producer of the cable television series Party Down. In addition to his television work, Thomas is the author of five young adult books for Simon & Schuster including Rats Saw God, Slave Day, Satellite Down, and Doing Time: Notes From the Undergrad. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife Katie, daughter Greta, and son Hank. Visit him at

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 17 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2005

    Better than you think

    Rats Saw God is a very good read, and suprisingly poignant. Don't underestimate it- it's witty, truthful, and humorous. Enjoy!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2008

    I was depressed, but amazed

    I had to read this book for a summer reading project. I normally never like the books that the english teachers pick out. But after reading it i didn't know what to think. This more or less is how my life is playing out. Meeting the girl of my dreams in a class by sitting next to her. That is happening now. Losing a girl to an older man, had that happen to me a few years back. Having my sister try telling me how i am feeling but saything that she is wrong. This book can really reach teenagers today. I can't recommend this book any higher than i do. I don't like reading but this is a must read for anybody. Adults and teens, it is easy for teens to relate to at least one part of the book and allows adults to understand teenagers.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2007

    A reviewer

    I had to read Rats Saw God for a book club assignment. I was very pleased after I had finished reading it. I love how Rob Thomas uses flashbacks and present tense action to tell the main character, Steve's, story and clashes them together toward the end. It takes a very brilliant writer to keep his audience entertained and unconfused when writing a story with a backwards/forwards timeline. Great job Rob Thomas. I am looking forward to reading more of your other works.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2004


    Rats Saw God. This book was truely amazing. I couldn't put it down when I started reading it. Steve went through many hardships in his life. The book made me fell as if I was in Steve's shoes. His relationship with his father was disappointing yet towards the end I'm glad they met grounds at the end. I loved the way Rob Thomas discribes the moment and the background. It makes you feel like you're the person. I've read the book a few times and I still get amazed. I bring the book where ever I go.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2004

    Better than some

    Rats Saw God was a rather entertaining read. I didn't find it very realistic to high school life. Very rarely, if at all, will as many horrible things happen to a person as happend to Steve, a rich white boy. I found the main character to be a very realistic teenager though. He whined about everything bad that ever happend to him; he even whined about everything good that happend to him. Then we come to all the random accurances in the book. There were many areas that did not connect to each other. I understand that this was the point of it. I just don't think it is a very good way to write a book. I thought that Rats Saw God was a very interesting read, and i'd recommend it to anyone who wants to read about a teenager whining. It is not the most realistic of books, but it is can still entertain a person for a few hours at the most.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2003

    One of the BEST

    If you've ever had a rough time through school, you can really relate to the characters. I found this to be one of the best books I have ever read! I couldn't put it down, great book! His writing style is unique in that his characters are like everday people. Highly recommended for anyone and everyone!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2003

    awesome stuff

    i saw this book at the library and the title seemed odd so i picked it up. im so happy i did. Steve is the coolest kid i know (haha). many interesting points brought up in the story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2002

    Its a eye catcher!!!Its Great!!!!

    I thought that it was way cool, when I first saw it I thought that it was gonna be a different book (hince the cover).So I checked it out and I am glad I did. In a way it kinda of helped me with some problems I was having my own. This was really good for Rob Thomas for his first book!!! Way to go Rob!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2001

    The sad reality of father-son conflict

    This is a really good story about the tough years of a child during his parents divorce. It goes through the child's addicition to dope and then ends on a positive note. Also deals with the relationship between father and son and the hardships of it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2000

    ~*The Down-to-Earth Teenage Life*~

    I recently finished the book, Rats Saw GOD, and I absolutley loved it! It makes a teenager feel comfortable reading it because it reflects right off a teens life. When we read novels like this is helps us to understand better if we can relate to it. Rob Thomas understands this and did a great job writing this book. It kept me interested the whole way through and I understood completely. Hopefully he will be expanding his talent and writing more books like this in the future!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2000

    The Best Book i have read in awhile

    This book was absolutley the best book i have read this a teenager i knew exactly what he was feeling...and i liked how Rob Thomas wrote it that we could all had me laughing and bringing back down to a serious level all in one chapter

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2000

    A New Benchmark for Young Adult Fiction

    In this latest novel, Rob Thomas presents an authentic portrait of high school life in America. Essentially structured as an autobiographical account of the life of one young self-proclaimed iconoclast, this book deals with typical episodes in the life of a high schooler in modern times; homecoming floats, semiformal dances, Pearl Jam concerts. But more importantly- it delves into the psyche of teenagers and the varying approaches to these events. From the stereotypical rite of passage types who go to football games on Friday nights and drink at parties afterwards to the self-proclaimed nonconformists whose dogmatic insistence on 'standing out' borders on hypocrisy, the author employs poignant characters that the reader identifies with closely along with a vivid first person narrator to paint a realistic portrait of the social infrastructure of the American high school. Thomas has a powerful contemporary voice that today's youth will relate to and which other teen authors often lack; his obvious familiarity with the modern American teenager (stemming from five years as a high school journalism teacher)manifests itself in authentic depictions of the ubiquitous social intricacies found in high schools across the country. From the 'low-maintenance Marcia Brady trend girls' and their 'long, straight, center-parted hair, poufy, midriff-baring tops, bell-bottom jeans with ragged hems and cork-soled clogs' to the reaction over the death of demigod Kurt Cobain and his 'It's better to burn out than fade away philosophy,' this book captures the essence of a generation. Also of note, Thomas' protagonist, Steve, a young man with potential but harboring the anarchistic slacker mentality of modern youth, strikes a chord with readers through his candid narration of clashes with his famous astronaut father, the anxieties of relationships and the irritating nature of many facets of high school. Definitely one of the best young adult books to come out in years- realistic, captivating and complete- this is an exceptional read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2000

    Would Recommend That All Parents W/Teens Read It!

    My son borrowed this book from his English teacher. After he finished reading it, he asked me to read it too, saying that I would enjoy it. At first I was skeptical, thinking that it was a book suitable for teen-agers only. I started to read it and could not put it down until I finished. It made me laugh, but at the same time, it made me cry at the obstacles that Steve had to face when his parents divorced. There are lessons to be learned from this book, the most important one of which is that, we as parents, must never fail to communicate with our children - let them know what we feel and what we think.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2000

    Great Book!

    This is the best book I have read since Catherine, Called Birdy. I recommended it to all of my friends and they, in turn, have recommended it to other people. This is a true coming of age story and a must read for all teenagers.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 1999

    The Best Book In The World

    When I first read Rats Saw God at the age of 11, I was appalled. When I read it again three years later, I fell in love. This is one of the very few books I've ever read that accurately describes being a teenager. No matter what all the 40-something critics may say, any high-schooler who reads this book will see him- or her-self staring out from the pages. I don't know where Rob Thomas gets his information about our lives, but it is accurate to a T. It's almost scary how much he knows. However, it's also extrmely comforting that someone over the age of 20 understands us. If you are a teenager, know a teenager, or want to understand teenagers, buy this book! Oh, and get copies, because everyone will want one (I've already given this book to three of my friends and reccommended it to countless more).

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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