Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Book Review: Rotters by Daniel Kraus

My rating: 4.5/5

From Amazon: "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."

Though I at first thought this was a zombie book when I checked it out at the library, I wasn't disappointed when it ended up being decidedly un-supernatural.  Graverobbing, as it turns out, is an artistically morbid profession, and Joey is a very interesting main character who's put in a situation that's both familiar and (hopefully) unfamiliar all at once.  And though Joey deals with things in a sometimes quirky manner, it always makes sense.  The entire book is also filled with the most realistic cast of normatively abnormal people I've ever read.  The only characters I had trouble distinguishing between were the Diggers, and I assume that to be on purpose... as gravediggers prefer their anonymity.

I loved all the action, as well as the non-action, and the reader can't help but feel desperately sorry for Joey in his predicament of losing his mother, moving to a new school where he's bullied, and suddenly living in poverty with a father who at first seems unstable.  If any of those situations even remotely ring true, you will probably enjoy this book. 

The only thing that didn't quite make sense (and is the reason for a 4.5 instead of a 5) was a turn in Joey's personality midway through the book.  He goes from being unsure of himself to being confident, all over Christmas break.  Though I could see Joey heading in this direction, and very much wanted to see him head this way, the change happened so quickly that it threw me off.  That being said though, I quickly got over it and enjoyed the rest of the book without pause.

As usual with a teenage character, there is some swearing, but not unreasonably so.  I would be more concerned about the gore and the drug use (though the drugs are definitely put in a bad light) with the under-high-school crowd.

Also, check out the book trailer here

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