Rats is a thrilling page-turner with a fast, exciting narrative that makes it hard to put down. In a landfill near New York City, a horde of rats has something that other rats lack—a leader with the cunning of Attila the Hun. When humans cover the mounds of the dump with thick layers of tar, the rats are cut off from their food supply. With their existence threatened, they react with ferocity and a sense of purpose. Zindel says that in real life large packs of rats are known to have leaders and a leadership hierarchy such as that of the rats portrayed in the novel. He works this and other bits of the natural history of rats into his plot, giving it a sense of possibility and making readers believe that the events could really happen. Against the rat horde stand two youngsters, whose knowledge of the behavior of rats is pitted against a clever, ruthless adversary.