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Rat Trap by Michael J. Daley
Cover Artist: Ashley Mims
Review by Paul Haggerty
Holiday House Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780823420933
Date: 15 April 2008 List Price $16.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / The Rat Blog / Show Official Info /

Rat isn't your ordinary cheese eating squeaker. She's a lavender colored, genetically engineered, super smart rodent, with plans as big as the planet Earth. The problem is she's currently stuck on a space station with no way off that doesn't require dealing with humans. Although her teenage human associate, Jeff, has shown that he can be trusted somewhat, he's still of the same species that made her into a lab specimen, a species that has proven itself to be her enemy again and again. It's now time for Jeff and his parents to leave the station, and Rat and Jeff are scheming to make sure she'll be going with them … although Jeff doesn't have to know all the particulars of her plan. All she has to do is clean up all traces of herself from the station's computers, eliminate all biological traces of herself from the station itself, and most difficult of all, keep from being found by her creator, Dr. Vivexian, who's come to the station personally to investigate what's become of his wayward science project.

Rat Trap is the sequel to Daley's Space Station Rat, which introduced us to the unlikely duo of Rat and Jeff. I haven't read Space Station Rat yet, but it's definitely on my list to pick up soon. It's not necessary to have read the previous book, but I get the feeling that it would make some things a bit clearer if I had.

Rat may be extraordinary, but she's still a rat, and that means she's dependant on Jeff for far too many things on a space station designed with humans in mind. She's egotistical, demanding, and not a little bit paranoid. As the book begins, when she's not treating Jeff like a dim witted ape, she's furious with him for not doing everything she wants, exactly the way she wants it. In many ways, this makes Rat a rather unsympathetic protagonist. But she's just a little rat in a big place full of scary monsters that want to kill her. When viewed from floor level, a bit of paranoia is certainly understandable. But Jeff is a friend, and there are others that would like to be as well, if she'd just give them the chance to prove themselves. And, as it always does, push eventually comes to shove, and that's when you find out for sure who's friend, and who's foe.

Rat Trap is fast paced adventure set in a unique environment. There's lots of scrambling around as Jeff and Rat struggle to stay a step ahead of the hunt. And, being a teenager and a rat, neither of them trusts any of the adults to help them. But they have pluck and they have luck, and the scientists made a huge mistake when they cranked up Rat's IQ. She's tasted freedom and there's no way she's going to let them put her back in a cage. But there's more than one way for a rat to escape the trap, and Rat is going to be surprised that even she can't see all the possibilities.

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