Jul 16, 2012

Audio Review: Rotters by Daniel Kraus

Rotters by Daniel Kraus
April 5th, 2012 from Random House Audio

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.

Confession: I asked my library to buy this audio because it won the 2012 Odyssey Award for best audio book for children. By disc two, I could tell why it was chosen for this esteemed award. Kirby Heyborne provides the voices for Rotters. You might recognize his voice from Cohn's and Levithan's Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist. Heyborne has a young and vulnerable voice that I found perfect for Joey. Joey lost his mother and when he goes to live with his estranged father, he feels more alone than ever. There is little dialogue for much of the book and we follow Joey as he grieves and tries to figure what role his father will play in his life. When Joey learns that his father is a grave digger, things get so very interesting. Heyborne completely switches gears and provides an all new raspy and raw voice for Harnett (father). When we meet other rotters from other parts of the county, again we are blessed with all new voices. I was truly impressed with Hayborne's versatility.

Rotters is a very emotional, dark, and twisted story, and it felt a little on the same lines as The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith. (One of my faves from 2012) Although Rotters isn't as gruesome or terrifying, I really didn't know what else to compare it too. I was left with the same weird feeling in my stomach, and I felt like I read something that would stay with me for a long time. I immediately thought of people who I thought would love the story - I tried to remember the umpteenth million people I recommended Smith's book to. I explained the whole premise to my husband and his face continuously changed from almost horrified to complete curiosity. I think he even asked if this was meant to be a book for kids. I, of course, said hell yes! I hate to use the term "reluctant reader," but my word this book is perfect for a boy who wants more than the ordinary. Don't let the decomposed skeletons and the rotting flesh keep you mom/dad readers away. Yes, there are disgusting scenes, but Joey's heart and his changing family more than make up for the scenes where rats eat their way out of bodies. *wink* Because of gruesome scenes, language, and sexual content, I highly recommended for 15+. 

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You can find Kraus at his website
You can find Heyborne at his website