334K: Evolved Rats Vs Devolved Humans In Once Radioactive City

When I was young, 12 maybe, I checked a book out of the local library, reading it several times, which initiated a life long live of post apocalyptic fiction. In the book a young boy about my age lives with a tribe outside the ruins of a large city that might have been Chicago. The tribe is at the hunter gatherer level of technology. And his main weapon is a spear. The city itself is a blast zone/dead zone no one is allowed to go in because it is supposedly radioactive. I don’t remember why but he heads into the dead zone and discovers the radiation is no longer deadly. But living in the ruins are a race of evolved rat beasts that are six feet tall, stand on their hind legs, and are spear wielding. The rat beasts come after him and he has a series of near misses until he escapes the dead zone and is rescued in a big showdown between the human tribe and the rat tribe, being saved by the adults whose rules he defied. The book had large-ish print and excellent pen and ink drawings sprinkled throughout. I went back to the library that I got it from but the destroyed my old library card and no longer have the book. It would have been published in the 1950’s or first part of the 60’s. Any help finding it would be greatly appreciated.


5 thoughts on “334K: Evolved Rats Vs Devolved Humans In Once Radioactive City

  1. Wow the plot is so similar that has to be it or at least related. But my memory is of large type and illustrations and a straight up novel for adults doesn’t feel right. The rat beasts were definitely rats because I remember how thy looked in the drawings. The plot synopsis of SMS mentions rat beasts and lizardly things. Do you know if a young adult version of SMS was ever produced or if the original version had illustrations?

  2. Is there a chance you could be conflating it with another book by Norton? “Breed To Come” had intelligent cats, and rats known as “Rattons”.

  3. I also think it could be an Andre Norton book, but maybe Iron Cage? I think it was one of her standalone novels, published around 1970…But it may have been connected to the Forerunner series.

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