I thought it would be a good time to talk about Rob Thomas’s Rats Saw God, a YA book published in 1996. I think I bought my paperback copy when I was twelve when YA paperbacks were $6.50, and I loved it. I reread it recently in light of the news surrounding Rob Thomas’s other writing project – the TV show Veronica Mars – and it’s successful movie funding on Kickstarter. It’s a great book to pick up and read in the year or so before the Veronica Mars movie is released, especially as Rats Saw God has actually beenpicked up for a rerelease.
I had never made the connection between the Rob Thomas who wrote Rats Saw God and the same Rob Thomas who created Veronica Mars, not until I came across an episode in the second season of the TV show called “Rat Saw God.” A little bit of googling later, and I realized that the same person who wrote one of my favorite YA novels also created and wrote one of my favorite TV shows.
Rats Saw God is about Steve York, and flashes back between his junior year of high school in Texas (living with his dad, “the astronaut”) and his senior year of high school in San Diego (living with his mom and sister Sarah). On the brink of failing his senior year, a sympathetic guidance councilor named Jeff DeMouy tells him he can make up his English credit by writing a 100-page essay. Steve decides to write about his junior year in Texas, the events of which turned him into the pothead he is when we encounter him at the beginning of the novel, just barely holding onto his grades.
In Texas Steve was a member of GOD, or Grace Order of Dadists, an alternative group at the high school with hopes of getting into the school year book. It was also there that he met Dub (Wanda), the first girl he’s ever fallen in love with. He’s also juggling home life with his distant father and his job at the Cineplex. The flashbacks between the past and the present aim to match up the Steve writing the essay with the Steve he’s writing about.
Thomas’s trademark one-liners and quick dialogue are as strong here as they are on Veronica Mars, and there are similarities between the two (even if they are pretty distant. The sports teams at the high school in Veronica Mars are the Pirates; in Rats Saw God, it’s the Buccaneers. Steve York also has just a touch of Logan Echolls about him. But just barely!). It’s a quick, good read, and the dialogue between Steve and DeMouy is reason enough to pick up Rats Saw God.