For What It's Worth

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Review: Rotters by Daniel Kraus

Rotters Grave-robbing. What kind of monster would do such a thing? It's true that Leonardo da Vinci did it, Shakespeare wrote about it, and the resurrection men of nineteenth-century Scotland practically made it an art. But none of this matters to Joey Crouch, a sixteen-year-old straight-A student living in Chicago with his single mom. For the most part, Joey's life is about playing the trumpet and avoiding the daily humiliations of high school.
Everything changes when Joey's mother dies in a tragic accident and he is sent to rural Iowa to live with the father he has never known, a strange, solitary man with unimaginable secrets. At first, Joey's father wants nothing to do with him, but once father and son come to terms with each other, Joey's life takes a turn both macabre and exhilarating.
Daniel Kraus's masterful plotting and unforgettable characters makeRotters a moving, terrifying, and unconventional epic about fathers and sons, complex family ties, taboos, and the ever-present specter of mortality. (YA)

*Note - review written by the hubs, Kevin

I saw this book in my wife's TBR pile and thought "oh zombie book". I picked it up, looked quickly, saw how long it was (464 pages) and then mumbled "a lot of words in there" but again thought it's a zombie book so no problem. I was wrong..............
It was not a zombie book. Yes there are dead bodies, body parts and grave yards but thats where the similarities end. I really don't how to describe it. It is dark, morose, macabre, strange, disturbing, gripping, gross.

Joey Crouch lives alone with his protective mother in Chicago. He lives a rather humdrum life. Joey plays his trumpet with his friend Boris, does his studies but doesn't really socialize. One day what little world he has is lost. He is thrust into living with his estranged father, Ken Harnett, in a small town and has to go to a new high school where he is noticed but not in a good way. He becomes the target of bullies and of one particular teacher who has it out for him. Harnett is never around and seems indifferent to his existence. Joey is lost and has no one.

Harnett says he is a garbage man but no one ever sees him pick up the garbage. He stinks in a way that is indescribable. Slowly Joey and Harnett begin to talk. Joey decides to confront his father about what he does. This is when it starts getting dark and disturbing at times. His father is a digger or grave robber. The rest of the book involves Joey realizing his "calling". It's a veritable coming of age novel for grave diggers. Who knew there was so much involved in the art of grave robbing? You will after reading Rotters.

The book meanders at times and gets a little wordy. In some ways, Kraus's writing is reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe. It has the darkness but it gets very disturbing at times. There is one scene that had me cringing.....ME....the man who loves horror and gore. In the end I was speechless and I'm really not sure how to explain my experience. I guess the Scott Westerfield blurb on the cover says it best; "Grueling, demented, and so crammed with noxious awesomeness that I had to read it twice". I don't know about the read it twice but I did finish the book and am curious as to what Kraus will write about next and yes I will probably read it.

I guess what disturbed me most is that it could be real.........unlike zombies - I think.

Rating: I'm not really sure about a total score for this book. It would range from a 2.5 - 3.0 out of 4 Although YA, I would recommend this one for the older teens due to the graphic nature of the story.

Buy the book! Rotters
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (April 5, 2011)
Find Daniel Kraus: websiteFacebookTwitter


  1. Great job Kevin! I love horror, but this review has me pausing. My curiosity has me reaching for it though!

  2. Great Review Kevin and zombie book but not about zombies. I love a good horror book too.

  3. Interesting. I've had it on my pile for a while, but the length HAS kept me from picking it up on a whim. I do think I'll try it out, as I've heard good things about all of the gore/crazysauce that goes on during the book. Great guest review, dude. :p

  4. Yikes, I'm cringing just based on your description. I think for this one, I'll take your word for it and pass on reading it myself. I don't think I want to know what would make The Man cringe. LOL

    Awesome review, Kevin.

  5. LOL, your hubby's awesome. "A lot of words in there." LOL.

    I don't know how I feel about this book. By the way you describe it, I just don't think it's the book for me. I'm all about the sunshine and lollipops!