Retro Friday Review: Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas

Retro Friday Review: Rats Saw God by Rob ThomasRats Saw God by Rob Thomas
Published by Simon and Schuster on 2013-03-05
Genres: Adolescence, Boys & Men, Drugs, Alcohol, Substance Abuse, Family, Friendship, Parents, School & Education, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 224
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon

Steve details his descent from bright star to burnout in this newly repackaged edition of the definitive, highly acclaimed novel from the creator of Veronica Mars and Party Down.Houston, sophomore year: Steve is on top of the world. He and his friends are the talk of the school. He’s in love with a terrific girl. He can even deal with “the astronaut”—a world-famous hero who happens to be his father. San Diego, senior year: Steve is bummed out, drugged out, flunking out. A no-nonsense counselor says he can graduate if he writes a 100-page paper. So Steve starts writing, and as the paper becomes more and more personal, he reveals how a National Merit Scholar has become an under-achieving stoner. And in telling how he got to where he is, Steve discovers how to get to where he wants to be.

Retro Friday is a meme hosted by Angieville where you review an older title on Fridays.

I love the 90s, bro. Almost as much as the 80s. I grew up in the 90s, or rather, was a child during the 90s, teen during the early 2000s. Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas is a YA book published in 1996, contemporary for it’s time, making it almost historical fiction today. Rats Saw God made me nostalgic for my childhood and flannel and baggy jeans.

Anyways, Rats Saw God was written by Rob Thomas as you can see all over this post, and yeah dude it IS the Rob Thomas who created Veronica Mars, so you know this book is going to be chock full of awesome. I mean, there are lots of references to the grunge movement and Kurt Cobain’s death and Nirvana.

We begin in senior year of high school. Rats Saw God opens with Steve York who doesn’t give a shit about school and is about to fail English class. Enter caring guidance counselor who notices that Steve is actually quite brilliant, but just doesn’t do anything. This guidance counselor assigns Steve a 100 page paper about any subject. The book then alternates between Steve’s first person California senior year narrative and between his 100 page paper which is a narrative of Steve’s sophomore year living in Houston with his astronaut father.

Of course, there is a girl. And there is sex. And there girl does Steve wrong, very very wrong, hence the California thing. I won’t say what she does, but you better believe I was going ‘OH NO YOU DIDN’T GIRLLLL’.

We get a pretty decent glimpse into Steve’s home life. His father, who is an astronaut, has these crazy huge expectations out of Steve who pretty much rebels. Then there is his sister who lives with his mother in California. His sister is this leader, who is also rebellious but in a smart change the system kind of a way. We see that Steve is still dealing with and internalizing his parents’ divorce, basically blaming one parent over the other. He’s immature about it. It is awesome and realistic.

ALSO the male POV in this book is legit. I mean, there’s mention of erections and sex and how long it takes to have sex. And there are curse words. And drinking. And awesome. So basically if you are Amish or you know, anti-FUN don’t read this book.

PLUS PLUS PLUS, Steve’s group of friends are hilarious. They form their own little non-conformist group just to get in the yearbook pictures. Anyways people actually take the group serious and hilarity ensues.

I should say, Rats Saw God is different from today’s YA. I mean, there are super messy relationships, and I just thought it was a little more sexually open or risque. For real, the sex is described as taking six minutes. None of that fade to black bullshit. AND I LOVED IT.

Also, Rats Saw God is a mad quick read. My copy was 202 pages, that’s like barely an evening of reading, plus if you have a reluctant male reader, you might want to have them check this book out.

Here’s a quote I had dog-eared:

“As if any of us needed more reason to feel superior, the speed, efficiency, skill, artistic vision, and wit with which our float proceeded only served to cement our hubris. But our newfound loyalty to GOD didn’t owe primarily to the quality of the project. I think what we experienced was one part Amish barn-raising enthusiasm and one part Chicano gang member group reliance.”

-Pg. 44, this is when the non-conformist club is designing a float for the homecoming parade. Lots of WTFery ensues.

Other Reviews:

Goddess Librarian
Persnickety Snark


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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I read this so long ago (I’m dating myself…) Thanks for bringing it back. I really didn’t remember much about this one.

  2. Dude, this book sounds awesome! I love it when authors get real. I’m definitely gonna have to find myself a copy!

  3. I’ve totally been meaning to check this one out because, well, it was written by Rob Thomas. I got one of his books at a library sale last year, but I can’t remember if it’s this one or not. Either way, I’ll definitely be checking it out. For some reason I didn’t expect it to have sex in it like that! The stuff I remember from the ’90s wasn’t like that at all… hmmm, interesting. Thanks for the review. =)