Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Rotters by Daniel Kraus

Publisher:  Delacourte Books for Young Readers
Publish Date:  April 5, 2011
ISBN:  978-0385738576  
Pages:  464

As always, SPOILERS!!!!!!

Keep an eye out tomorrow for the 
author interview with Daniel Kraus!

Joey Crouch is a nondescript teenage boy that likes to play in the school band.  He does have a habit of doing what his mother calls “specifying”.  When he is stressed or bored, he will memorize details of things.  He also is always worried about his mom dying while she’s gone.  Ok, so he’s kind of a weird kid, but basically normal.
Then his mom actually does die.  She’s hit by a bus and Joey is informed that he’ll be sent to live with his father.  He’s told that his father lives in another state and is a garbage man.  Nervous, but hopeful, Joey travels to meet him.  Things start off on the wrong foot when no one is there to meet him and he has to walk across town to find the house.  He’s sure there’s a mistake – this can’t be his father’s house – it reeks and is filthy and there’s no food and no bedroom for him.  Then he meets his father.  The situation is not better. 
When he begins school it only gets worse.  Everyone knows who his dad is…he’s not really a garbage man at all, just called that because of his stench.  They start calling him “Crotch” and he has trouble left and right – not just with the students, but with the faculty and staff as well. 
Joey’s father is always leaving at night and is sometimes gone for several days at a time.  One night Joey hides out in the back of his truck to see where he goes.  That’s when he learns the awful truth, his father is a grave robber.  He demands to be allowed to accompany him on his work, Joey feels he has nowhere else to turn and may as well embrace his heritage.
Joey’s travel from nondescript teenage boy to grave robber to adult is a long, strange trip.  Daniel Kraus makes it all worth while.  There is never a dull moment and the details are what make the story.  I was horrified, appalled and yet eager to see what happened next.  While grave robbing isn’t your usual YA subject, I’m thrilled that Mr. Kraus chose it.  There’s a long interesting history behind it and you get a lot of that in the story.  I mean, who’s to say that it doesn’t go on still…in our own areas…Ken and Joey seemed to have a pretty good deal going on.  I will say that I wasn’t truly grossed out until Baby entered the picture.  Even though I knew all about Ken and Joey’s dealings, Baby took it way over the edge for me.  Yet at the same time I understood why Joey needed to know about his way of doing things.  Overall, this is an excellent book and I can’t wait to read the next novel by Daniel Kraus!


  1. Hmm, this sounds very interesting! I actually wondered when I saw the title of the book in your post if it was a zombie book. But I think a new subject like this is good to put out for kids looking for something different to read about. I'll put it on my TBR list.

  2. Great to hear, Lisa! It is very different and I did go in expecting zombies too.haha My 16yo really enjoyed it.