Thursday, May 24, 2012


Kraus, D. (2011). Rotters. NY: Delacorte Press.

First of all, straight up: this book has graphic depictions of grave digging, fresh and long-dead corpses, innuendo of necrophilia and at a minimum, disrespect for the dead.  Dark. Gruesome. Unsettling. The book is absolutely unforgettable – but is that good?

Soooooo. . . . I loved the start of this book and how the kid was absolutely certain that his mom would be dying at any given time for any given reason. I laughed a little because not knowing our main character, Joey, yet, I wasn't sure if it was neurosis or humor or practicality. Still not sure of the answer 0 and this is one of the things that bothered me about this book. This seemed significant and like it should be revisited or explained or referenced at some point, and it wasn’t.  

Throughout the story, over and over again, my heart aches for this boy, Joey.  Apparently I'm on a roll with books about boys losing their moms (just finished A Monster Calls) and didn't know it.   I was convinced that surely he had to get a freakin' break at some point.  He really didn’t, though some might argue he did at the end of the book by way of the Epilogue.  Eh. But along the way, Joey’s actions confuse me and go against what seems to be his personality and his teachings from both mom and messed-up dad.  Yes, I’m vague here because I don’t like spoilers, but the inconsistency with his character bothered me.  To hint – I hated the bullying Joey was subjected to and was thrilled that Joey was planning his revenge, but the revenge put Joey on a different level for me.  The revenge was obscene and didn’t seem to fit Joey, but then maybe I didn’t really understand Joey after all.

This book has language in it, but sadly, it’s probably realistic to a teenaged boy that age.  Most boys from junior high on up wouldn't blink an eye at the language; it is firmly a part of their culture now, and they often hear worse on the football field and Xbox.

Language is one thing, but the situations explored and graphically detailed are another.  It’s beyond gross.  The SMELLS stick with me, the IMAGES stick with me, the ACTIONS stick with me, and for the most part they are nose-wrinkling, vile, and twisted. But did I like this book? I can't say for sure.  Clearly the author is talented (though it freaks me out to think about where/how he got his information to write about this).  But I really can't say who I'd recommend it to because it’s just wrong on so many levels.  Would a boy like this? Yeah, probably. But should it be suggested to him?  My gut says no. It's adult horror with a teenaged main character.

 Here’s the official book trailer for Rotters, straight from author Daniel Kraus’s website, CREEPY.

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