Year of the Rat
1984 by George Orwell
Ah, the dystopian genre. While definitely not uplifting (at all), these bleak looks at humanity and society and control are often great works of literature. And, being a great work of literature, 1984 has been promoted on high school reading lists for a while now. So, it's pretty interesting how many people you know that might have read it!
I actually didn't experience it in high school; I waited until I was somewhere in the middle of my college branding. To make matters more dystopic (I love messing with words), I read Brave New World right after that. It was a very bleak period! Hahaha.
Anyway, this novel is about how the world is divvied up under the control of three huge super-powers. One of these, Oceania, is where the novel is set. Specifically, in London. The government tells everyone that they are at war with one of the other super-powers, and that terrorists are constantly trying to sabotage daily life. Big Brother watches every citizen's ever move. Oh, you just have to love hand-in-fist propaganda. Whatever the government deems "unsafe" is permanently deleted from every record, and thus from history. This is one of the tasks assigned to the Ministry of Truth.
Yes, the Ministry of Truth. There's also a Ministry of Love that... well... makes people like the government. By any means necessary.
One citizen, Winston Smith (who works at the Ministry of Truth) ends up straying from the set path and finds out all sorts of chinks in the machine. This leads to a whole mess of events, one of which may involve rats and psychological "conditioning." Definitely stuck in my mind!
So yeah, if you are deathly afraid of rats, I apologize. And you probably will want to skip a chapter or two of this book. On second thought, just take my word that it's a good book (KIND OF a downer), and go get some ice cream.