3.54 (6,968 ratings by Goodreads)
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Forget everything you ever knew about unicorns. The fluffy, sparkly, friendly "horses" so popular the world over don't exist. Real unicorns are killers.

Beasts the size of elephants, with cloven hooves that shake the earth, hides impervious to bullets, and horns that contain a deadly poison, unicorns can outrun a sports car and smell a human from a mile away.

And they can only be killed by virgin warriors descended from Alexander the Great.

Sixteen-year-old Astrid Llewelyn has grown up with her mom Lilith's tall tales about unicorns and their exalted family heritage, but figures her mom's crazy. But the scary stories her mom told her about the monsters in her formative years left her with a firm phobia about unicorns, even the cutesy kind popular with young girls.

But when one of the monsters attacks her boyfriend in the woods--thereby ruining any chance of him taking her to prom--Astrid finds herself headed to Rome to train as a unicorn hunter.

"As swift and sure-footed as a killer unicorn, Rampant weaves a vibrant new mythology from venerable threads."--Scott Westerfeld, bestselling author of the Uglies series
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Product details

  • 12-17
  • Paperback | 432 pages
  • 166 x 202 x 26mm | 322g
  • HarperCollins Publishers
  • New York, NY, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • Illustrations, black and white
  • 0061490040
  • 9780061490040
  • 297,719

Back cover copy

Forget everything you ever knew about unicorns . . .

Astrid Llewelyn has always scoffed at her eccentric mother's stories about killer unicorns. But when one attacks her boyfriend--ruining any chance of him taking her to prom--Astrid finds herself headed to Rome to train as a unicorn hunter at the ancient Cloisters the hunters have used for centuries. However, all is not what it seems at the Cloisters. Outside, unicorns wait to attack. And within, Astrid faces other, unexpected threats: from bone-covered walls that vibrate with terrible power to the hidden agendas of her fellow hunters to her growing attraction to a handsome art student . . . an attraction that could jeopardize everything.
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Review quote

"As swift and sure-footed as a killer unicorn, RAMPANT weaves a vibrant new mythology from venerable threads." -- Scott Westerfeld, author of the Uglies series

"RAMPANT is a thrilling read, with strong girls, unusual and scary unicorns, and hidden dangers everywhere. I was on the edge of my seat from start to finish! Please, miss: might I have some more?" -- Tamora Pierce

"Tired of Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Try Astrid the unicorn hunter." -- Locus

"With an atmospheric setting, personable ensemble cast and some reasoned discussions about virginity, this gripping page-turner evokes the same grrl-power spirit as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, packed with action, mystery and a complex and intriguing mythology." -- Publishers Weekly

"A fresh folklore twist amid the wave of vampires and zombies." -- Kirkus Reviews
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Rating details

6,968 ratings
3.54 out of 5 stars
5 22% (1,560)
4 32% (2,245)
3 28% (1,967)
2 11% (793)
1 6% (403)

Our customer reviews

This book has a premise that is as awesome as the story itself. This book is about KILLER UNICORNS. Yes, you have read that correctly. Unicorns are not the fluffy white harmless creatures everyone thinks them to be. They are something entirely different. I quote: "Unicorns are man-eating monsters. They don't have wings, they aren't lavender or sparkly, and you could never catch one to ride without its goring you through the sternum. And even if it somehow managed to miss you major arteries - and it never misses - you'd still die from the poison in it's horn. But don't worry. My great-great-great-great-great-aunt Clothilde killed the last one a hundred and fifty years ago." This is what sixteen years old Astrid has been told all her life by her unicorn-obsessed mother. She or course doesn't believe this nonsense, until her boyfriend is attacked by one. Luckily, he survives, but her chances of him taking her to prom are instantly eradicated. This confirms everything Astrid has been told all this time, and her mother sends her off to Rome to be educated in the reopened unicorn hunters headquarters. If you think killer unicorns are awesome, you will absolutely love this book. Not only is the idea utterly amazing, the presentation is really good. Rampant has a solid plot, with more than enough lore to support the story. At first, the extensive background may seem a little bit overwhelming, but these pieces of information are so often referred back to that you will remember them without effort. "This was the karkadann, the most dreaded and deadly of all unicorns. This was the creature of nightmares, the thing my family fought for so many generations." I cannot stress the fact enough how utterly brilliant this book is. Astrid has made it to my top 3 most kick-ass heroines. I love that there finally is a girl in a YA novel that doesn't hide behind her crush at every sight of danger. She is truly self sufficient, and actually has to protect her crush from being hurt. I adore that she isn't dependant. It annoys me that almost all female characters seem to be nothing without their male counterparts. This is at times a rather dark book. The unicorn hunting business is not at all without risk. Any of the girls could die in an ambush. More often than not there are at least a few broken bones after a fight. I think it's great that Ms. Peterfreund didn't gloss over the fact how horrible combat is. It isn't all honour and glory, it's frightening and a struggle for life and death. You can see that this takes a toll on the girls, as would be expected. But it must be done, and only the hunters can take unicorns down. They accept their duty with their heads held high and bows strung and axes raised. "The kirin turned in our direction and lowered its head to charge. It was smaller than the one I'd seen before, barely more than a yearling, yet every bit as deadly. I froze, forgetting all Lino's archery lessons as the monster stared me down with its glowing, golden eyes." It's not all about fighting and killing though. There is a clear message about growing up and learning how to make your own choices. The hunters must keep their virginity, otherwise they will lose their powers. This makes for a rather tough topic for the girls to cope with. They will have to make a choice between love or their obligations. "I wasn't quite sure what kind of "unicorn ****" I could potentially pull off. You might lie about having lost your homework, but I wouldn't be able to pretend I'd killed a kirin if I hadn't." This is one of those books you come across that you think is so great you can't stop talking about it. As you might tell from the abundance of quotes from this book, I obviously can't get enough of it. While I'm reviewing, I'm skimming through the pages again, looking for great passages. It makes me want to reread the whole book. While I just finished! *sighs*show more
by Celine
Think unicorns are sweet, magical horse-like creatures? Think again! Diana Peterfreund introduces us to the darker side of unicorns in her novel RAMPANT. Peterfreund's unicorns are man-eating monsters. They can kill with poison in their horns, rip someone apart with their sharp teeth, and some have breath that can kill (literally). Astrid Llewelyn has listened to her mother's crazy stories about extinct man-eating unicorns for years. Astrid never believed the stories - until the night her date ended up on the sharp end of a unicorn horn. Now her mother's stories are all too real, and Astrid is sent to Rome for training as a unicorn hunter. She meets a group of other virgin descendants of Alexander the Great, and together they train to hunt and kill unicorns. But Astrid doesn't want to be a hunter. I enjoyed reading RAMPANT. There was some sexual tension and scenes of passion, as well as discussion about sex, but not enough to bother me. I'd recommend this for older readers 14+ because of the content. I enjoyed the characters and learning about their lives. Astrid is strong, and yet vulnerable enough to make her real. The characters and their lives will run Rampant in my memory for a long time, but in a good way.show more
by TeensReadToo
When I bought Rampant I don't think I was so anxious about it, so I honestly don't know exactly why I did. And now that I've read it I can say I don't regret have done this, because it was an extremely fun ride through the new fantasious unicorns world. It's not amazing only because of the unicorns, but-for sure-because of the whole story behind it, because of the characters Diana Peterfreund brought to life as unicorn hunters. Even though I struggled a little to really get into Rampant as I read the first 100 pages and found the vocabulary kind of difficult for what I'm used to, it's considerable to highlight an important aspect of Peterfreund's writing: she first introduce us to the world she created, she tells us the unicorn mythology stories very throughly. Then on, as she keeps mentioning these stories, she brings the human women unicorn hunters, and Astrid as the main protagonist. Astrid was a brilliant, sometimes impulsive character that grew up on me from the first to the last page, never deeping too down. And although at first she let herself be way too influenced by her mother, Lilith, and fought against being an unicorn hunter and being sent to Rome to meet others, she still was strong. Actually, initially she didn't care much about the unicorns tales her mother told her, until she saw one of those creatures for herself-when it attacked her boyfriend-and realized they were really real. Two other different and amazing and creative aspects of Rampant that I sincerely liked and feel like I need to point out are: first, the story is nearly entirely settled in Rome, and we get to visit through the characters' eyes and steps museums and places I would love to go someday; second, in Rampant, it's not the guy who is the mysterious and dangerous, it's the girl-and it's such a sweet part of the story, something I could read again and again. Overall, I'm really glad I had the oportunity to receive a review copy of Ascendant, it's sequel, so I again got more interested in reading Rampant, more than I was before. Diana Peterfreund is such an amazing storyteller who will take you to an original, fantastic world of unicorns and, consequentely, its hunters. I recommend it and bet you won't be disappointed!show more
by Raila Soares de Assis
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