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 gig at the drive-in theater, Todd takes it. After all, it pays actual money. But hanging out with Rat leads to a host of strange experiences and perplexing questions. More and more, that corpse from the river is on Todd’s mind, and no matter how he shifts the pieces around, Rat is always part of the puzzle.
In this dark and consistently gripping mystery Arnold's (Parts) first foray into YA territory 14-year-old Todd Anthony whets readers' appetites with "a list of possible first lines," beginning with "A dead guy washed up from the river." Set in upstate New York during the Vietnam War, Todd works at his parents' motel and spends his school days writing stories to entertain his friends. One day while biking home, he encounters a small dog; when Todd picks it up, it bites him and darts into the road where it is hit by a cement truck. He is forced to kill it it's been too gravely wounded and he is subsequently devastated. Todd keeps his actions secret; he writes about the incident for a school assignment, but is unable to turn it in. "I pull her closer. Feel a tiny lick on my wrist. I'm crying. Shaking. I never knew what crying really was." While searching for the dog's owner, Todd meets Rat, a tattooed and evasive veteran only a few years older than Todd, who offers him a job at the local movie drive-in. Meanwhile, a dead body has been discovered in the nearby river and Todd begins to suspect that Rat is involved on some level. Arnold amply demonstrates his ability to write for an older crowd, spinning a suspenseful yarn with a dizzying climax that sweeps Todd off his feet both literally and emotionally and will likely do the same to readers. Ages 12-up.
This book is really good. Since this book takes place in my home town, I can recognize all of the land marks. With this book, the old rule of "don't judge a book by its title" really applies. I am in seventh grade and my English teacher assigned this book as our next reading assignment. I thought oh great another really boring book. I have read some really boring books in my life and the last one we had was a dread. I didn't even finish it it was so boring. Rat Life came to me as a real surprise since my English teacher is known for handing out boring books. This book is something that actually seemed real. This is about a boy a little older than me and he actually seems like any other kid. It's sometimes it is hard to find a book that you can really relate to, but Rat Life seems so real. This boy seems so realistic in his feelings and thoughts that you might almost think this was a biography on him or something. Rat on the other hand is what I like to call a hard character. Meaning that it is hard to get to know him really well. To find out about his past and his real name for instance. Todd at first does not like Rat, but after Todd starts working with him, they become what some call friends. But this is no normal friendship. This friendship is different, even thought all friendships are unique, is one is odd.Rat never really let's Todd inside of him, meaning telling him about his feelings and thoughts. But everyone eventually breaks and starts gushing out information about themselves to anyone who would listen. Rat does and finally let's Todd know how it felt to be in I defiantly recommend this book to teens and young adults! Rat Life is is now on my Top 5 List!!!