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Rotters by Daniel Kraus

Rotters (edition 2011)

by Daniel Kraus

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2422547,619 (3.53)19
Authors:Daniel Kraus
Info:Delacorte Press (2011)
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Rotters by Daniel Kraus


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In Rotters Kraus seemed to want to address bullying and grave-robbing but, for me, the two themes didn't mesh into one cohesive exploration. As a story of fathers and sons, it read a little better. However, I was never able to connect with Joey Crouch, Joey's father, or the world and philosophy of Diggers. Joey was quite passive until all of a sudden he would do something completely out of character. Overall, the story just fell flat, for me.

2.5 stars ( )
  flying_monkeys | Sep 11, 2015 |
This was a unique story, and I could not get it read fast enough. I bought Scowlers, by Kraus, a while back and had a hard time getting into it. I will have to give it another try after reading Rotters. Rotters follows a teen boy named Joey. After his mom is killed, he is sent to live with a father he has never known. I hate repeating the synopsis of the story, so here is my opinion on what I read... it was fantastic. The idea that graverobbers still exist and the methods they use to get the job done without being discovered was a unique perspective. On top of that, Kraus adds some real history to the story when he mentions bits and pieces about graverobbers from the past who dug up bodies for doctors to use. The imagery used is supposed to be shocking, and I imagine that to someone who has never seen Saw or read King, it could be considered fairly gross and graphic, as decomposing bodies are described. The story is fast-paced, alternating between Joey at school dealing with bullies, and Joey at home or at "work" with his dad. The reader learns alongside Joey, and feels his inward struggle and pain over losing his mom and accepting this new life. Kraus gives you characters that you can root for and that you want to see grow and survive. Even when those characters are weak or do things that you may not approve of, you can understand where they are coming from. ( )
  recipe_addict | Sep 21, 2014 |
OMG. This was unlike any book I have ever read. It was dark and gets kinda psychological towards the end, so I would categorize it as Horror, but not a traditional horror. The narration also set the tone, but the parts with repetitions just seemed odd when listening. ( )
  bookwyrmm | Feb 23, 2014 |
Audiobook - Joey Crouch's mother dies so he has to move from Chicago to rural Iowa to live with his estranged, alcoholic father. His father refuses to feed Joey or give him money for food, despite having a giant safe full of jewels and cash. Joey has to sleep on the floor in a corner of the kitchen. Everyone at school bullies Joey, including his teachers and the principal. Then he finds out his abusive dad is a grave-robber in some kind of association of grave robbers, and Joey decides to become a grave robber too.

I'm not sure there are words for how bad this was. Regardless of the stupid, unbelievable, and nonsensical plot, this book is sexist, racist, and homophobic. The antagonist is a physically- and mentally-disabled drug addict, who yet seems to be magically better at his job than all the other grave robbers. There is necrophilia and cannibalism. (And not in an interesting, "this happens in real life so we can't ignore it" kind of way; it was clearly just there for shock value and to make the story seem "scarier" than it was.) I am not one to be squeamish in any way, but all of the violence and gore and decomposition in the book was gratuitous and nonobjective. None of the characters were at all believable - Joey is a straight-A student who skips classes several times a week, a bully teacher is put in his place by a student acting like a know-it-all, Joey quits the school band because the cool guy bully (who is hooking up with a girl in the band) tells him it's not cool, a preacher tries to get grave robbers to stop grave robbing by helping them grave rob, etc. And to cap it all off, one of the nameless female sex objects says at the very beginning of the book that a social worker would be visiting Joey's father to make sure he took good care of Joey. This never happened and was never mentioned again, and if it had, the entirety of the book would not have happened. The author tries to make grave-robbers a "thing" by linking them to real people and groups like Leonardo DaVinci, Resurrectionists (people who dug up bodies for use in scientific experiments in the 1600s) and Incorruptibles (Catholic/Orthodox saints whose bodies supposedly never decompose). What do those have to do with digging up coffins to steal the valuable objects inside? Absolutely nothing. This book is all shock-value and no real value. And it's long as hell. Not at all recommended. ( )
6 vote norabelle414 | Dec 19, 2013 |
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales.

Quick & Dirty: A novel written almost like the poetry of the dark romanticism genre, beautiful writing that pulls you deep into the dismal feelings and atmosphere of the book, not necessarily somewhere anyone would like to be for an extended period of time.

Opening Sentence: This is the day my mother dies.

The Review:

The author is more of an adult writer given the vocabulary, content, and depth of the writing. There seemed to be an attempt to aim this more towards a teenager audience but I think he still didn’t quite succeed in that regard. The pace wasn’t fast enough and I think the content just started out too heavy in the first place. The storyline is too repetitive and the action is very choppy and interrupted. I didn’t feel let down at the end of the book, just at certain points during the book when it started to drag.

This was a difficult journey for anyone to read, the combination of the depth and heaviness of the plot and the depressing lives of the characters just was rather ghastly to plow through, and the writing style contributed to that heaviness as well. There was value to that, as the reader definitely felt some of what the characters were going through just as they were being dragged through it as well, but it wasn’t an uplifting read, if that’s what you normally go for. There were obvious points in the story that could have gone uphill, and then you were pulled down further, along with Joey. Which is hard, for Joey and for the reader, but this also made it entirely about the story, not about the reader necessarily enjoying every minute of the story.

Joey wasn’t a really intriguing character for me. At first, Joey attracts sympathy, and the reader is drawn to him in that regard. As a coming of age story, he is definitely immature and definitely coddled by his mother. Sympathy at his mother’s death is certainly deserved, but he keeps trying to compare his mother to his father, which is just a completely unfair comparison. As a sixteen-year-old, he should be able to take care of his own basic needs, and instead he just feels picked on, seeming more like a preteen, like the youngest child, than an almost adult. He is bullied at school, and just doesn’t go out of his way to counter that, despite being a straight-A student. When he finally decides to take matters into his own hands, he goes completely overboard. It just seems a rather dramatic change, along with the plot.

This is a book that will get you thinking, but at the same time make you not want to think about it even while you are reading it and especially while you aren’t reading it, and especially if you have a really vivid imagination. Towards the middle of the book I actually began to think that it wasn’t too bad and started to redeem itself, but then I realized I was only halfway through the book. At that point things started to get pretty weird, much more what you would expect just given the entirely gruesome premise. I found some value in the book, especially at the very end, but to get to that point wasn’t exactly entertaining or enjoyable for me. It would come back to your expectations of a good book in the first place, and from reading the synopsis, you would most likely know if this is the book for you or not. For me, it wasn’t my book, but I did give it a chance and I’m not disappointed that I did.

The main redemption for this book is implied to be the father and son relationship. After all, why would Joey’s mother hardly speak of his father, and yet take the time to write in her will that he should go to his father if she were to pass away? And that relationship never built up enough substance for me to feel invested in it, the way I needed to be for the ending of the book. Again, too much of the book relied on shock and gore for me, I personally would have appreciated this book more if the plot had been supporting the characters and relationships, rather than the other way around.

Notable Scene:

“How?” I asked one evening.

It had been a few days since we had last spoken; the topic, though, had not changed. “A knife,” he said, looking at me for a moment before going back to reading the stack of newspapers that arrived each day in the mail. But now he was too distracted to read. He looked at me again, his eyes less scarlet than in the past, less hooded with anger. “I have a knife from Scotland,” he said softly, “with a blade so sharp there would be almost no pain.” The wounds of my mother’s ear: maybe it was the same blade, maybe it would be the last thing she and I shared.

FTC Advisory: Delacorte Books for Young Readers/Random House provided me with a copy of Rotters. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. ( )
  DarkFaerieTales | Nov 15, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Daniel Krausprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Heyborne, KirbyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This is the day my mother dies.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385738579, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:22 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Sixteen-year-old Joey's life takes a very strange turn when his mother's tragic death forces him to move from Chicago to rural Iowa with the father he has never known, and who is the town pariah.

(summary from another edition)

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