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3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  490 ratings  ·  194 reviews
Imagine your father is a monster. Would that mean there are monsters inside you, too? Nineteen-year-old Ry Burke, his mother, and little sister scrape by for a living on their dying family farm. Ry wishes for anything to distract him from the grim memories of his father's physical and emotional abuse. Then a meteorite falls from the sky, bringing with it not only a fragmen...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published March 12th 2013 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
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It puzzles me -- and sometimes frustrates me to no end -- how or why some books get categorized/released as Young Adult. These days it seems the label has become so loosey-goosey all that's required is that there be a teen protagonist. Content, language, themes -- all of the meatier, important elements of any book are blithely ignored in the rush to market and movie deals.

There are definitely books that walk the hinterland -- the very, very outer reaches of YA and upon reading them you realize...more
If you want true YA horror, look no further.

Ry's father Marvin was an abusive, horrific man. His father put his mother through hell, and it was Ry who helped save his mother back when he was way too young, too impressionable, and too vulnerable to have that sort of responsibility heft upon him. But Marvin was locked up years ago for it.

Things change now that the meteorite is predicted to hit. The first clue is the appearance of a stranger on the family farm, claiming an explosion at the high s...more
Wendy Darling
Horrifically gory and intense, in a way you don't see that much in YA. Billy Dent has nothing on Marvin Burke.
Oh man. OK. SO this book. If I were rating this purely on my own personal book preferences and tastes, I think I would have immediately given it five stars. Unfortunately, because I am a librarian who works with kids, I cannot rate books without thinking about them in terms of the intended audience. So. I downgraded it (almost painfully, mind you) to four.

What I loved:

This book is true horror. Not horror in the sense that EEK! something might jump out at you, but horror in a deep, visceral, cer...more
One of the darkest and creepiest YA books I have ever read. Being a huge fan of Koontz and loving a good chill, this book had me wrapped up on a warm summer day. Taking place on an Iowa farm, Ry Burke, his mom and his sister are saying their final good-byes to their beloved home and moving somewhere where Mrs. Burke expects to find hope. The once prospering farm is now dead, Mr. Burke is behind bars and Jo Beth wants to give her family a new start. That is until a knock on the door brings a stra...more
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Krista (CubicleBlindness Reviews)
One of the scariest Young Adult books I have ever read. Disturbing.

Ry's father is currently in prison and Ry and his family are still trying to cope with the abuse he caused them all. They live in a secluded farmhouse, the land being the prize of their fathers heart. But after years of having to run the farm on her own, Ry's mother has finally decided it's time for them to move now that it's been desolated and dried out. One day when meteorites begin to fall from the sky, one lands on their land...more
Scowler without a doubt was the scariest and darkest book I have ever read in the young adult genre. It makes I Hunt Killers look like Sesame Street. It's Stephen King meets Silence of the Lambs and it held me captive from page one. Disturbing imagery, and heart-racing scenes had me completely spellbound as I searched for closure from this nightmare. This was a thrilling ride and I enjoyed every dark, gritty, heart pounding moment.

The tale begins when we meet Ry Burke, his little sister Ella and...more
Gritty, unflinching, and inventive. There are some fantasy-like elements, but the entire story is infused with a very real sort of horror. I haven't seen this often in YA, so the brutality caught me off guard, but I couldn't look away from it.

Very well done. This one puts Krause on my read-everything-from-this-author list.
4.5 stars

You know that commercial during the Super Bowl about the farmers that everyone loved? I didn't. In fact, I couldn't watch the whole thing. I had to walk away but I kept thinking about it, despite my efforts to stop.

It reminded me of this book. This book, set on a rundown farm in middle of nowhere Iowa. This book, turning my stomach with some of the descriptions of absolute mutilation. This book, which takes the childhood dependency on make-believe friends and turns it into something so...more
For the discerning YA/adult reader who found The Marbury Lens and Passenger too fuzzy and straightforward...

It will be a long time before I forget this novel. Take my advice and don't read the last 80 pages right before bed. Review to come.

Slow-paced, horror, suspense novel. Slow-paced and suspenseful? Yes. Scowler is also both a psychological horror novel and a blood-and-guts horror novel. There were several moments that were gut-punchy heartbreaking because Ry is so broken and other moments that were oh-my-god-is-this-really-happening-I-might-have-just-puked-in-my-mouth-a-little disgusting. Daniel Kraus really gets to the meat (pun intended) of true horror - that what's most terrifying in the world may be inside of us. There wer...more
After some deliberation, I have decided that a 4.5 star rating is most appropriate--I didn't think Scowler was perfect, but it was pretty damn close.

This is the second book that I've read by Daniel Kraus (I read and enjoyed Rotters last year), and I feel like he and I were raised on the same diet of horror movies. There's something about the way he writes that makes me think we would have a lot to talk about were we to ever meet.

So, Scowler. The book takes its title from one of the main characte...more
This Odyssey Award winner was horrifying. I mean it. Truly horrifying. Don't go out and read this book because you see the 5-star rating. I'm warning you. Don't. Because you'll yell at me. But I had to give it 5 stars because the writing is exquisitely creepy - SLOW, drawn-out, SCARY, unpredictable scenes. My stomach was in knots listening to it on the way to school and back, and I couldn't stop even though there were times I asked myself, WHY AM I LISTENING TO THIS?! Kirby Heybourne and Daniel...more
This book almost made me throw up. Seriously. There were some sick and stomach twisting scenes in this book. Truly horrific. On the one hand, this book was highly original and I really haven't read anything like it-- admittedly I don't read much horror. Also, I did get kinda a Donnie Darko vibe. Maybe it's the scary bunny? The plot was original, the characters were original, the weird-ass escapades and sadism was original. It was also highly unpredictable. I had no idea who was going to live, to...more
Ellis Weiner
I finished this last night. At first I thought the writing pretentious. Then, for most of the book, I thought it was pretty great. But by the end I was not only disappointed but vaguely pissed off, because the climax and resolution were unclear and very unsatisfying.

Someone here comments about the unrealistic way injury (and its lack of consequences) are depicted. I agree. By the climactic sequence, you expect a certain state of affairs based on what's been described, but suddenly it's not THAT...more
Sam McGraw

Daniel Kraus wrote the book Scowler with all intentions of scaring the reader. The book is supposed to shock and terrify people as they read about delusionary Ry and his murderous, vengeful father Marvin. The author uses demonic ideas of torture and abuse to give readers a chill or a thrill, depending on how they view the book. There is no educational value to this novel, for it is meant to be read for fun only. The story follows Ry and his family as they try to survive another encounter with th

Oh, my...Daniel Kraus is an amazing author, but this was one of the hardest books I've ever read. One of the most gruesome and grisly, too. I'm not really sure this is appropriate for young adults/teens, who appear to be the target audience. The sensibility seems much more adult than that. The story follows young Ry Burke, who lives with his mother and young sister on a dying farm in Iowa, in 1981. Nine years previously, Ry was grievously injured by his father, Marvin, an abusive and possibly me...more
Fair to say I had to put down my sandwich a couple of times while reading this, and I have a cast-iron stomach. I can't decide whether it was the exactness of the description or the activation of my imagination, but one way or the other I feel like I've been violated in shamefully enjoyable ways.

This is one of those kind of stories where some fool told his dysfunctional family story to the author, and the author said, "Well, if you think THAT'S bad..." Then he proceeded to sit down with the aim...more
It took me a while to read Kraus's previous book, Rotters, but I was blown away by it when I finally did. I knew I had to read Scowler as soon as I could get my hands on it, and it did not disappoint. In both books, Kraus writes about the darkest places in an adolescent boy's soul. Even though Rotters is about a couple of graverobbers, I found Scowler to be even more intense and raw. There are no corpses here (okay, there are, but they're fresh), but the mounting tension of a terrifying father r...more
Marta Boksenbaum
This was a difficult read for me. I listened to this horror book on Book-On-CD, because it won the Oddessy Award. I do not like horror, and I found this book so disgusting that I almost had to pull over while driving several times on the way to and from work. Despite my personal preferences (I just can't handle any horror, or scary anything-I'm a pansy basically), I know several teens who I would recommend this book to. It is well written, with complex characters and a well-developed plot. I fou...more
Donna Siebold
This novel was an extremely hard read. I consider myself to have a fairly high tolerance for graphic violence, but I was overwhelmed by this book and not in a good way. I argued with myself for quite a while about the rating. It is undoubtedly a gripping story, but the raw violence was just too much for me. It was so distracting that I found much of the story difficult to follow. I cannot imagine a situation where I would recommend this title.
I love the bright, dust-moted haze that Daniel Kraus seems to write in. I don't know how he does it, but it goes like this: as the extraordinary plot of a Daniel Kraus novel unfolds, complete with meteors or graverobbing, grievous injury, drugs, and insane people, our belief is never strained. The mood is numbed and nightmare-y, but with clear beautiful details and textures (lots of texture). You can't tell anyone what the book was about, just like you can't tell people what your dream was about...more
This audio-book was rousing, thrilling, off the page edgy, frightful and monstrous.The audio performance enhanced the maddening treachery of ruthless Marvin Burke, the dangerously controlling and cruel abuser of his son Ry, Ry's mother Jo Beth and daughter Sara.

Sentenced to prison for abuse which caused the near death of his son, Marvin is obsessed by delusions of grandeur and all knowingness which manifests itself in inconceivably vicious beatings and blood lettings which though usually aimed a...more
Sarah Hashimoto
A deeply disturbing, yet beautifully written teen horror book. I'm not sure that I've ever said that about a book before, but it's really true. The detailed descriptions were eloquent, from the larger descriptions of the land and the farm to the tiniest details, such as the gap left by Sarah's missing tooth. The interaction between Ry and the Unnamed Three, three dolls who all represent parts of Ry's personality, is fascinating. The relentless progress of the book, the growing menace, dread, and...more
Theda Black
The book is well done, driven and effective, but there were a couple of things that kept me from being wild about it.

I found some of the wording pretentious. I hate saying that because this writer knows words and has an ability to feed them to the reader in a way that truly horrifies, but when I pay more attention to the use of the language than to the feeling evoked, it's over the line for me. Especially so in a story where it has the effect of stopping the action. Your mileage may vary.

Nineteen year old Ry is stuck on a dying farm with his mother and younger sister. Through flashbacks, we gradually learn about Ry's abusive father and how he finally ended up in prison. Thoroughly traumatized by his violent father, Ry survives with the help of three imaginary friends--light-hearted Mr. Furrington, kind and wise Jesus, and bloodthirsty Scowler. Just as Ry's mother, Jo Beth, is finally ready to leave the farm behind, a meteor strike and a very bad man conspire to make sure that no...more
Anne Broyles
I would never have read this harrowing book if not for the award it won for best audiobook. Kirby Heyborne has been the reader on numerous other books I've enjoyed, but this was an incredible performance I won't forget. All the characters came alive, and Martin Burke, father of the young adult protagonist, Ry Burke, has to be one of the most horrific villains ever. If I remember his signature hum (as portrayed verbally by Heyborne) I get the chills.

This is not a book for the faint-hearted, and t...more
Fulton Avenue
Had to quit the book. Scared !
This book is horrifying and amazingly written. I would definitely recommend it to teens who can take some really tough reads and who enjoy books that are "messed up" in the psychological and gore sense. Since I listened to the audiobook I must add that it is a really great audio production, the way Kirby Heyborne performs Scowler's percussive dialogue is pretty amazing and adds so much for the listener.
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Daniel Kraus is a Chicago-based writer, editor, and filmmaker. His debut novel, THE MONSTER VARIATIONS, was selected to New York Public Library's "100 Best Stuff for Teens." Fangoria called his Bram Stoker-finalist, Odyssey Award-winning second novel, ROTTERS, "a new horror classic." SCOWLER was a Library Guild selection and also the winner of the Odyssey Award.

Upcoming novels include TROLLHUNTERS...more
More about Daniel Kraus...
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“The weathered dairy barn, the wilted chicken coop, the leaning corn crib, the corroded silos-- all were revealed as structures of utility and grace. Someone must have rigged Ry's perception so that he had spent his whole life seeing only the ultimate futility of these structures while concealing what made them worthy, the struggle itself, the striving for a better day.” 0 likes
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