Monday, June 24, 2013

Review: Rotters

Title: Rotters
Author: Daniel Kraus 
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Release Date: April 05, 2011
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Source: Audiobook
Narrator: Kirby Heyborne 
Genre: Young Adult, Adult, Contemporary, Horror, Mystery
Awards: Odyssey Audiobook Award

SUMMARY: 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 make Rotters a moving, terrifying, and unconventional epic about fathers and sons, complex family ties, taboos, and the ever-present specter of mortality.


Darkdisturbing, and deliciously creepy

As a twisted, yet highly relatable coming-of-age story, Rotters exposes the many horrors, not only of the teenage experience, but of humanity in general. 
This book may be targeted as YA horror, but it transcends that age range.

Joey is an easily identifiable protagonist dealing with the death of a parent, neglect from his estranged father, and serious bullying, among other adjustment issues. This book shows how he struggles through and overcomes these obstacles -- in very... unique ways.

Everything about Rotters -- the multi-dimensional characters, the corporeal metaphors, the bleak setting -- is tangible and real and heavy. You feel this book, physically and emotionally, and the reality in that is what makes it so horrifying. 

The first part may seem a little slow, but it's necessary to fully characterize Joey and his motivations for the totally awesome and psychologically thrilling second part. The language can be intense at times, but that’s just the reality of high school, folks.

This won the Odyssey Audiobook Award, and wow, did it deserve it. I will never get Bogg's voice out of my head thanks to the brilliant narration by Kirby Heyborne. Looking forward to more from the Kraus-Heyborne duo.

Warning: This book is unflinchingly graphic with the details of grave-digging --stages of death, corpses, smells, etc. -- but it’s all pretty fascinating if you don’t have a weak stomach. You can't escape the humanity in this book, and I think that's what makes it so wonderful.

Random reader fact: While "reading" the audiobook, I was so curious to experience digging a grave -- not a real one, I'm not that crazy -- that I went outside and dug a huge hole. Several blisters later, I can easily say I don't recommend this endeavor. Oh, and I know I'm not the only one who tried to dig a hole after reading this book -- you're all just too ashamed to admit it.


Moderate (intense language from teens/adults)
Violence: High (disturbing and graphic imagery dealing with death/murder, intense bullying)
Sexuality: Mild (occasional crude references)

This review also appears on Goodreads and

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