Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book


Rate this book
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.

448 pages, Hardcover

First published April 5, 2011

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Daniel Kraus

50 books627 followers
DANIEL KRAUS is a New York Times bestselling author. With Guillermo del Toro, he co-authored THE SHAPE OF WATER, based on the same idea the two created for the Oscar-winning film. Also with del Toro, Kraus co-authored TROLLHUNTERS, which was adapted into the Emmy-winning Netflix series. Kraus’s THE DEATH & LIFE OF ZEBULON FINCH was named one of Entertainment Weekly‘s Top 10 Books of the Year, and he has won two Odyssey Awards (for both ROTTERS and SCOWLER) and has been a Library Guild selection, YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults, Bram Stoker finalist, and more.

Coming soon is THE LIVING DEAD, a posthumous collaboration with legendary filmmaker George A. Romero. Kraus’s work has been translated into over 25 languages.




Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
927 (26%)
4 stars
1,183 (33%)
3 stars
878 (24%)
2 stars
355 (10%)
1 star
185 (5%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 823 reviews
Profile Image for Michael.
Author 51 books11k followers
April 1, 2011
I admire the hell out of this book.

Kraus doesn't play games, he doesn't compromise, he doesn't pander, he just writes the hell out of this utterly original story. This is the kind of book that will stay with me for a long time. It's the kind of book that sends me back to my laptop determined to work harder. Just: yeah. Yeah, this is the real thing.

Look, I want everyone to read what they enjoy, regardless. But for your own growth as a human being occasionally put down your mopey chaste romantic vampire books and read something like ROTTERS: you won't be the same person when you're done.
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,854 reviews16.4k followers
May 16, 2019
A very pleasant surprise.

It’s like going to a film you were interested in and then learning that it was directed by Tim Burton, starring Christopher Lee and based on a Neil Gaiman short story. Whoa! Interest just spiked.

I first found out about Daniel Kraus when I read The Shape of Water. Knowing Guillermo del Toro because of his excellent films, I learned that del Toro had collaborated with Kraus on the idea and the book. Studying more led to the realization that perhaps it was Kraus who did the heavy lifting for the book while his partner went on to win an Oscar.

So, intrigued, I sought out more of his work and found this gem from 2011.

This reminded me of Louis Sachar’s Holes (because of the YA label and digging and the onions) or China Mieville’s King Rat, or even obliquely of Gaiman’s Neverwhere or The Graveyard Book. This is at its heart about wanting to come in from the cold – about an outsider who seeks acceptance and belonging.

The great thing about YA books is that at least on some level, we can all relate, as most of us anyway have similar memories of high school / teenage years.

Joey Crouch was living a good life in Chicago when his mother is tragically killed. He’s bussed off to Iowa to live with his father whom he has never met or even spoke to. The first idea that something is unusual begins when he learns that his father has no phone, or any form of electronic communication. Arriving at the shack out in the woods on the edge of the rural town, Joey further learns that his father is not just off the grid but something of a local pariah – the town garbage man, a figure of mystery and distrust for the natives.

Being the new kid in school can be scary all by itself and Kraus masterfully crafts a setting of fear, isolation and cruelty that is all the more terrifying because it is a homely situation we can readily understand. Stephen King’s horror is so effective because it is supernatural but wearing store bought shoes, it is paranormal but sits at the kitchen table pouring milk over a bowl of Cap’n Crunch. Kraus uses some of these same techniques to create this unhappy situation for Joey.

Joey then learns that his father has a VERY unusual occupation – he’s a grave robber. Yeah! How original is that? More than this, Joey’s father introduces him to a world of “diggers” – an underworld society of dark archeologists who have an ethos and who observe ancient codes of conduct. His father relates a kinship with the thieves of the pyramids and describes his profession as a cultural-economic necessity like vultures are to nature.

What follows is a very well written and empathetic tale of family, loyalty, and of shared but misunderstood mortality.

All warm fuzzies aside, this is about grave robbing with some mental illness and teenage angst thrown in, so it’s dark. Some of the graveyard scenes sail past creepy and into the neighborhood of shocking and outrageous, enough to make Chuck Palahniuk raise an eyebrow.

A very good book.

Profile Image for Grady Hendrix.
Author 44 books18.4k followers
April 7, 2012
The best YA book ever written. *Rotters* is all about a kid whose mom dies and he gets sent to live with his abusive, alcoholic dad in Iowa WHO IS A GRAVE ROBBER. And the kid decides to bond with his dad over DIGGING UP DEAD BODIES AND STEALING THEIR GOLD TEETH. Featuring 7000 new words for filth, the language of putridity becomes poetry, it is disgusting (to the point where I had to skim sections), gorgeously written, unflinching, really funny, educational (if you would like to dig up graves and steal things from the corpses), and it is so outside the mainstream, and trumpets values so far away from any other YA book I've read, that it makes most books look positively square.

It's definitely not perfect, but it's one of the few modern YA books that, to me, has a legitimate shot at becoming a cult classic.
Profile Image for Dolores.
3,197 reviews5 followers
April 14, 2012
I feel like I have to give this 2 different reviews. I listened to it and the reader was great. He does a fantastic job of creating mood and emotion and creating very distinctive characters. Him, I would give 5 stars. But, let's face it--nothing he did could change the story he was reading. First of all, waaaaay too long. Second of all, I'm not sure what the story wanted to be. If it was a story about father and son relationships, it missed by a mile. If it was trying to be the most brutal bullying story ever written, well it certainly managed that, but I'm sorry, I just didn't buy it. I don't believe that kids would stand by and let a teacher get away with bullying like they did. They would be too busy filming him with their cell phones and posting it to Youtube. Or whatever. The point is, they'd blow him in so fast it'd break land speed records. Nothing unites the powerless so quickly as an abusive authority figure. Even those flying beneath the radar know that it's only a matter of time before the bully looks their way. So, the bullying thing didn't work for me. I loved the grave robbing, and I was all set for a book about our society's antiquated burial rites, but that didn't seem to be where the book was going either. It just seemed to meander without any direction. And here's the sad thing. The writing is fantastic; the language beautiful. It's what kept me reading, even when I was absolutely miserable. If I hadn't been so determined to finish, I would have given up. I just kept thinking, it's got to get better--something HAS to happen. But it didn't.
Profile Image for Laurie  (barksbooks).
1,706 reviews662 followers
September 28, 2018
Do yourself a favor and do not read the synopsis for this book. It’s hard to avoid. I accidentally did it myself when I added this book to my virtual shelf. For some reason, marketing decided to spoil the first part of the book in the very first words of their blurb. I can only guess at why they did it (to hook people in? to lure them in with the taboo?) but for me it spoiled much of the mystery surrounding the first few chapters of the book. I would’ve liked to have figured things out myself. I don’t usually whine about spoilers, I know I’ve given too much away in many a review, but this is one time I wish I could go back and unread something. It’s also likely that it’s the only time you’ll ever hear me admit to sympathizing with hit and run posters who call me a dumbass and yell at me for giving away too much.

 photo bazinga_zps1453460e.jpg

Anyway, I read this unabridged version narrated by Kirby Heyborne who does a mighty fine job with the dark, seedy, crazed characters who inhabit this story. He also gets the teens down just right in all of their confused, upset, grief stricken, mean spirited and vulnerable moments. I always knew who was “speaking” and after reading many audiobooks I’ve realized this is a skill that only a small, talented few possess. Kirby’s narration added another dimension to the story and kept me listening even through some of the sloggier moments.

Without giving too much away, this book is about a 16 year old boy named Joey. Joey lives a sheltered life with his mom. He gets straight A’s, plays in the school band and has a best friend. He’s basically a normal, well-adjusted kid. But then tragedy strikes and he’s forced to leave everything familiar behind to live with a father he’s never met. Joey’s life pretty much goes all to hell from this moment on. There is a huge mystery surrounding his father (which all the blurbs spoil – DON’T’ READ THEM!). His father comes off as an uncaring, mentally unstable, very strange guy who neglects Joey and makes his life extremely difficult. As the story unfolds we realize there’s a lot more to him and all of the strange behavior begins to make sense.

This book was dark and dirty and quite mean and I could not tear myself away from it even when things got a little slow here and there. I had so many questions I needed answered (and I got them all too!). I found Joey to be a well-developed and sympathetic character. He evolves into a different person when he is forced to adapt to a situation that is disturbingly strange and he manages to hold it together better then I could’ve at his age. Many reviews seem to be bothered by the fact that Joey didn’t seek out any sort of outside help (regarding the bullying) but I understood his tendency to endure and deal with it all himself. It’s hard to read though and probably isn’t a book for everyone.

I thought the underlying storyline was unique. It blends the nightmare of high school with the real life horror that awaits Joey when he arrives at his dad’s shack and learns his secrets. It’s about humanity, impulse, wanting to belong and to be loved and accepted while being forced to hide in the shadows and shun society. There is an odd cast of characters inhabiting the pages; outsiders by choice, some mentally unstable, and some on the edge of insanity. It was fascinating reading about these people. The end goes a bit too over the top suspense-wise for my liking with a big storm of the century adding tension to an already tense confrontation. But that’s just me. I don’t care for action scenes overmuch. Despite those minor nitpicks, this is an audiobook worth picking up if you don’t mind reading about some things that might turn your stomach a bit.
Profile Image for Holly.
180 reviews9 followers
February 5, 2019
By far-- by FAR-- the creepiest, most disturbed thing I have read to date.

Am I the only one thinking, ".... how does Daniel Kraus know all the precise, knitty-gritty details of how to rob a grave?"

I half expected to find the bio in the back of the book: "About the author: DANIEL KRAUS is a writer and currently resides at Iowa State Prison, where he's serving a 20 year sentence for--you guessed it-- digging up dead bodies, robbing graves, and other sorts of general mischeif. Rotters is his first book. You can write him at Iowastateprison@hotmail.com-- put 'Daniel Kraus' as the subject line."

It's so crazy disturbing. It's so sick and wrong on so many levels. But it's so good at the same time. It's like the ultimate horror movie stuck inside a book. I mean, the hurricane scene? With the flooded cemetery and the bodies floating everywhere? And let's not even start at what Boggs may or may not have done to Val's body. Or the Rotters book itself.

I loved Harnett's heroism, the way he was so tied to the past, even though his own intentions weren't pure in the least. And Joey as a character himself was excellent to follow through this crazy-wrong book.

Let's just leave it as: not for the weak heartened. Not in the least. Not just super gorey and super creepy, but simply disturbing.
Profile Image for Badseedgirl.
1,246 reviews63 followers
February 12, 2021
All I wanted was a little light reading. I had just finished Drood by Dan Simmons and American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis and had decided to take a break. What would be better than a little light reading about modern day grave robbers? Reading Daniel Kraus’ Rotters taught me two things, if I ever had any doubts about how I want to be interned when I die, those have been resolved (Cremation, definitely), and high school is a thousand times more brutal than when I went to school.

I have to joke about this novel, because if I don’t I would just spend hours crying over it. I swore after reading Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho that I would never touch a novel that dark again, and less than one month later I am reading a novel that makes that one look like a fairy tale. The brutality and horror in Rotters has left me speechless. Never before in my life have I read descriptions of the brutality Joey Crouch, the main character suffers at school and at home.

The first part, “Fun and Games” in this novel is not horror, but just so horrific as to destroy the psyche of both the main character and by extension the reader. This first section of the novel is filled with both physical and psychological torture. I kept putting the book down and then picking it back up assuring myself that it could not possibly get worse, but it just kept going further and further down such a dark and terrifying road. Much like Joey, I kept praying to “two finger Jesus” that it would just get better.

By the time the reader gets to the second part of the book “Lamb and Slaughter” I at least, had felt that I had become immune to the darkness, Like Joey, I had settled into the life of a “Digger”. And then I got to the scene at Joey’s mom’s grave, and I realized that Joey had gone insane, and this realization seemed to break the spell that the first part of this novel had held me in. After that I was able to finish reading the novel with a sense of separation. This purposeful change in writing style was an incredibly smart move on the Authors part. I’m not sure that I would have been able to finish this novel if I had continued to feel such an attachment to Joey. It started to affect me in my real life. I started feeling depressed and anxious, and looking back, it was because of this novel.

I know this review is scattered but it is impossible for me to explain how very, very disturbing I found Rotters to be. This novel has been listed as a Young Adult novel in Goodreads, but I would absolutely not recommend this novel to any teen. The themes are just too dark. I’m not sure who I would be able to recommend it to. Am I glad I read this novel? Absolutely not. Would I recommend it? Again no. Was it an amazing read that has affected my life for the foreseeable future, absolutely yes. And because of that I am giving it 5 stars. Any book able to affect the reader like that deserves praise. Well done Daniel Kraus! I don’t think I will ever be able to read anything by you again.
Profile Image for Eve.
398 reviews64 followers
March 30, 2011
I have to take a deep breath here because my enthusiasm for Rotters is such that my review might quickly decompose to incoherent gushing.

This is the highest praise I can give:

If two of my favorite books got together and made a child, Stiff by Mary Roach and The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey, Rotters would be that unholy Frankenstein child - a breathlessly macabre creation of horror and pathos.

Death is all over this book, fear of death, physical death, emotional death, death of hope. Joey has been sheltered all his 15 years by his beloved mother, but when she dies and he goes to live with a father he's never met - Joey is pitched into a bleak and ugly new existence - and that's BEFORE he meets his first corpse.

As the son of the creepy and stinky "Garbage Man" (as Joey's father is called by the townspeople) Joey quickly becomes his new school's pariah. He is beaten almost daily, terrorized by a sadistic teacher, and has no friends. High school is a horrifying place and his cold father and dreary home is no comfort.

With ordinary society so putrid in its treatment of Joey, is it any wonder then that he becomes drawn to the mysterious world of grave robbing - his father's secret occupation? Joey buries himself in learning all about the underground realm of grave thievery composed of strange, solitary men loosely held together by pacts and old-fashioned codes of honor. Here, grave robbing is a calling and an art, almost noble in its tradition going back to the Resurrectionists of the 18th Century. Almost noble, but not quite - for nightly, Joey descends the underworld of foul, rotting corpses, Rat Kings, maggots, severed limbs in pursuit of jewelry and precious mementos to pawn. In sharing his father's shameful secret, a rough and unusual father-son bond develops between the two and Joey becomes his willing apprentice.

Of course Joey pays for entry into this morbid world of the Diggers when he turns his back on the living, whom he calls the Rotters. He digs himself into a black abyss of pain so deep that I was genuinely uncertain if he would ever climb out of it.

Rotters must have flaws, but I cannot think of any. I've been yearning for a truly dark YA book and now I've found one who's got dark in spades and then some: the corpses, the father-son relationship, the fascinating history of grave-robbing, the characters, the brilliant but mad villain, and sharp writing .

Your nose will wrinkle in disgust, you will shudder, you will want to turn away, but you won't because as twisted as Rotters is, you will be too thrilled to stop turning the pages.
Profile Image for Jessi.
786 reviews13 followers
August 28, 2012
This was just a fucked up story. And I don't mean that in a bad way. It harkens back to classic horror which relies not on blood and guts but on general creepiness to freak you out. There's no magic or super powers or monsters. Just people. Really weird people. It has a very odd narrator. Joey goes through many situations that the general public could identify with (bullying, the death of a parent, the hardships of friendship) but he never, ever reacts in a way that I understand. It's like he and I have an opposite brain and I am always shocked by his actions and decisions. The thing is, though, that despite that, I really grew to like him and all of his actions made perfect sense within the world and character created by Kraus. The secondary characters are equally well developed and the antagonist of the story is one of the freakiest villains I have ever encountered. He will (unfortunately) live in my psyche and my nightmares for many years to come. This book is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach. There is some seriously disgusting descriptions of the corpses in the books. There are some seriously awful instances of child abuse and bullying that are very tough to read. On the upside, there is also some really fascinating history about grave digging. This is a unique story and was definitely worth the time and effort of listening. I found this one in the teen section, but would only recommend to older teens and think many adults would enjoy it.

A note on the narrator: he was amazing. He brought Joey to life completely and developed him from a big whiney baby to a seriously badass grave digger and through to a more mature adult. He is also the reason that Baby will be haunting my dreams for years to come. I will never forget the sound of the voice chanting "rotter, rotter, rotter...."
Profile Image for Becky.
1,319 reviews1,612 followers
December 16, 2015
4.5 Stars
I received an advance review copy of this book from Star Book Tours for review. I requested it purely based on the cover and title - I didn't know anything about it, but I'm kind of morbid so I hoped it would be as good as it looked. I wasn't disappointed.

I didn't really know what to expect... zombies? I was hopeful, I'll admit. I love zombies, and if this one contained them, I had no doubt they would be awesome. But no zombies here, and the more I read, the more I appreciated this for the realistic story it was. This is the story of a mostly normal boy who gets thrust into this very unconventional situation and life.

Here's the gist: Joey Crouch's mother dies, and he is sent to live with the absentee father he never knew, in a small town where hostility reigns, and Joey finds understanding in the most unlikely quarter one can think of - the Diggers... Grave robbers.

I was hooked right from the start. The first part of the book, the fear and the surety and the paranoia, and specifically the specifying, drew me right into to Joey's life and I wanted to know more, and to find out what happens to this boy. His life goes is completely out of control and he has nobody and nothing at all he can rely on, and I found it fascinating how he dealt with - or failed to deal with - this new life he's got. His struggles were what kept me glued to the book. He was nothing if not real. His mistakes and compulsions frightened me on his behalf. I love an underdog, so I wanted him to persevere and prevail against those against him... and against himself.

I loved the fact that the students at Bloughton High were realistic. They may have been a little cliche, actually, but teenagers ARE cliche. The jocks are jocklike, the snooty mean girl is snooty and mean (and a girl), the outcasts are outcast. But the devil is in the details with these kids, and I thought the portrayal was great. Just enough to read into them and make them more than cliche without needing it to be spelled out in big bold letters. I loved Foley. He may have been my favorite character. I wished that he was a bigger part of the book, actually.

I also liked the Diggers. They were a varied and interesting group, and I loved their independent camaraderie. I love the history and the mostly noble feel of these men, and the sacrifices they make for this calling. I was fascinated by the way that the Diggers behaved among the dead, especially The Resurrectionist, as it was such a contrast to his behavior with the living. I would have loved more history and lore and more detail regarding the Diggers and their profession, but since this was Joey's story, and he's a 16 year old, I know why this would have been a mite tedious for him to relay.

I appreciated the unflinching way that the dead and that death were portrayed. I liked that there was a certain reverence and respect there, even among these men out to pry valuables from someone's cold dead fingers. There was quite a bit of gore and grime and muck, among other foul things, so this is probably best not read by those weak of stomach or virgin of ears (so to speak). But I thought that these details added a lot to the book - a kind of reality and truth that it might otherwise be lacking.

I really enjoyed the writing in this story, and many passages were gorgeously descriptive and evocative. I loved the contrast between these parts and the gritty and almost irreverent brutal honesty of the rest of the story. This one pulls no punches regarding bullying or loss, or about growing up and finding one's own path either. I really enjoyed it. I will definitely be on the lookout for more from this author.
Profile Image for Lanica.
313 reviews29 followers
June 14, 2012
I want to hate this book - but I don't.

I want to love this book - but I don't.

What a strange novel.

I want to give it a 5, I want to give it a 1...I have no idea what to rate this novel.

From the very first page this book was a contradiction. A boy 'knows' that his mother will die today...and she does...but that's the only time he is psychic. I kept waiting for his 'visions' to reappear - they don't.

Instead, we jump into the story. He is forced to live with his father and soon enough learns that his father is a grave robber...and we watch his slow decline into the strange world of a small circle of grave robbers. I found myself disgusted by this book, and the characters - any yet I wanted it to all turn out okay in the end. Perhaps it's because I'm a teacher and I want to believe that any student can overcome...but I never wanted to give up on this boy - and therefore I never gave up on the book - even though I should have.

I hate this book, it's disgusting and I feel dirty having read the entire thing.

I love this book - the writing is wonderful. The way the author puts words together is exceptional. I read this book over a month ago and was unable to get it out of my head. I had no idea how to write my a review of it, loving and hating it so fiercely, and so I just didn't...but now that so much time has passed and I still can't get it out of my head I though perhaps I could purge myself by reviewing it...

Here's hoping I won't think about this book again, but I know I will...it was just that well written and evocative. Too bad it evoked only horrible thoughts and images...

As I said, I'm conflicted.

Review: Don't read it unless you really like...well...grave robbers and downward spirals. It's dark, macabre, and made my heart hurt.
Profile Image for Ken B.
439 reviews15 followers
August 7, 2014
After the sudden death of his mother, fifteen year old Joey Crouch is sent to live with his estranged father in small-town Iowa where his father's status as "Garbageman" makes Joey a high school pariah. Curious, Joey discovers his father's true employment and embraces it despite its macabre nature.

I really had no idea what to expect when I opened "Rotters". What I got was a tale unlike anything I've read to date. I found myself intrigued at points and cringing at others.

The book has been tagged several times as "young adult". I hesitate to place "Rotters" squarely in that genre.

Profile Image for Richard K. Wilson.
423 reviews101 followers
March 16, 2021
This is now my all time favorite Coming of Age In HORROR novel of all time! Yes, this knocks out Simmons' "Summer Of Night". Are you ready for Daniel Kraus' (the writer of the Academy Award winning film "Shape Of Water") "Rotters" WARNING: NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART

Okay, now I have said it before, I have NO IDEA what makes a novel a YA novel....if you don't know what that means, it means Young Adult. This is definitely NOT a book that i would let my 13 year old great nephew read by no means! Now for a book that has 448 pages, I read this in a little over 8 hours....but let me tell you, it is 8 hours that i will NEVER ever forget!! This book though as extremely discriptive and VERY disturbingly GRAPHIC as it was with the subject matter of modern day Grave Robbers and what they do, it was the most heart wrenching and sad but beautifully written 'Coming of Age in HORROR' book i have ever read! Yes, this knocked out Dan Simmons horror classic; "Summer Of Night" for my number 1 spot! Now, Robert R. McCammons "Boys LIFE" is still my favorite book of all time, and that is also a coming of age novel, but i do not consider that to be a horror novel.

The story is about a 16 year old straight A student by the name of Joey Crouch, and he lives in Chicago with his single mom, who is his LIFE and his entire meaning of that word. When a tragic accident happens; killing her he is sent to rural Iowa to live with his unknown to him, father....aka The Garbageman. Joey realizes that his father is someone who is very strange, not only in the fact that he lives in a run down, and almost falling over shack on the edge of the woods in Iowa, but when he finds out his father has no phone, no computer or any forms of electronic communication to the outside world is when he comes to the point that this is going to be life changing for him. When Joey finds out that his father is the small town 'creepy weirdo' and that he will also be the 'New Pariah' at the local high school, this is when this tale takes off, and it takes off like a train straight to the depths of HELL!

Not only is Joey bullied and abused by his former classmates, he is also the target of one of the school's teachers.....and this is bullying To The Maxxxx! Now, this is where I had the ONLY problem with the book, none of these kids would have put up with this bullying from this teacher without it making the rounds of Facebook or Youtube! Joey takes on the nickname of Joey Crotch and he realizes he is different from everyone else.....he learns he is the son of a local Grave Robber!! yes, you heard this correct, I am talking like Ed Gein grave robber! In the 400 plus pages of this book you will be seeing, reading and even SMELLING the sickening smells of what a dead and newly buried body smells like and author Kraus does this so well that I cringed many times while reading this. Now, at the same time, you will be disgusted to the point that you will have to decide if you want to go on and finish or not.....but believe me, you MUST finish this book! The gruesome scenes of the grave robbing and the scenes of death are so disturbinly thrown in your face, that let me tell you, they are scenes that you will NEVER forget very soon. There is a scene of the most stomach churning description of 'the left over remains left inside a condom' that is only for the Strong STOMACHED. Now with Joey missing his mother something fierce, he learns something about his mother that just devastates him, and he visits her at her graveside......now be ready; this is one of the most 'memorable' if you want to call it this, scenes in the book!! I cried many times in this sickenly gross and gruesome, but so well and beautifully written book, that I cannot recommend it enough. Now remember, this is supposedly a YA novel, and it has won many awards for its contents, but do not take this lightly.....it is shocking! It is most definitely a coming of age story of Joey and his life with his father that he has to learn to either take part in, or not. It is a story that I will NEVER forget, and I do not think you will either. Let me tell you this.....it has made me realize that i do NOT want to be buried when i die!!!

Enjoy Daniel Kraus's "Rotters"; I did, but it was at times very hard to do.

5 😱😱😱😱😱
Profile Image for Julia.
120 reviews22 followers
August 18, 2014
This book is trying too hard & failing. "the piss yellow dawn" really? I made it only a few chapters in before my head exploded from the overwrought attempts at grim dark writing. Also women seem to exist only for plot points
Profile Image for Emily.
681 reviews15 followers
June 16, 2012
Why I picked it up:  It’s on the list for the YALSA challenge

Joey has never been outside of Chicago.  He lives with his mom, gets straight As, plays the trumpet, and tries to get by with as few problems as possible.  Until his mom dies suddenly and he is sent to Bloughton, Iowa to the father he’s never met.  Joey’s father does not seem happy to be reunited with his son, and the living conditions are pretty terrible.  Then Joey learns his father’s secret: he’s a grave robber.

I don’t even know what to say about this book.  I did not enjoy it.  The 2 weeks it took me to listen to it were probably the most uncomfortable 2 weeks of commuting I’ve ever had.  And yet the quality of the book is unmistakable.  The writing is at time breathlessly beautiful, and I’m not someone who notices that sort of thing all that much.  The majority of the characters are extremely interesting and surprising.  The plot takes unexpected twists and turns.  Even the plot points that I knew were coming were handled in such a way that I was surprised.

It’s hard to get past how dark and depressing the book is.  For the first 2/3 of the book, the grave robbing parts are actually a relief, so horrible are the things that happen to Joey at school. And every time you think think you've reached the point where things are as bad as they can get, you learn that you are wrong. Very wrong.

One thing that frustrated me was that I wanted an author's note telling me, first of all, if Daniel Kraus is sane. (Mostly kidding.) But seriously. The details on the history and community of graverobbers is so interesting that I really wanted to know what was real and what wasn't. I did end up finding what I wanted, but I found it on the audiobook site. (http://www.randomhouse.com/audio/list... for those who are interested.) Why wasn't it a part of the book? I found this information fascinating and I think author's notes really enhance books, especially when the topic is somewhat unusual subject matter. And it's neat to know where the inspiration came from.

A word about the audio: I thought the reader was really, really good. Kirby Heyborne, who I had never heard of, was really great, and I can see why this won the Odyssey award for outstanding youth audio book. The voices for some of the characters were amazing, and that may be the one thing that got me through the book.

I struggled with how to rate this book. I usually rate using Goodreads terms literally. In that case, this would be like a 1.5 But on the other hand, this is a quality book, and I feel like I need to reflect that. So for now, it gets a 3. I reserve the right to change that later.

Contains: language, bullying, dead bodies, really dark stuff
Profile Image for Clare K. R..
Author 8 books16 followers
August 31, 2012
I wanted to like this book. I am a horror fan. But I couldn't get to the horror part, if there was one (I'm not convinced grave robbing is horrific). The prologue was confusing--which is OK, I don't mind being confused in a prologue as long as the rest of the book clears it up. But it doesn't. There was never any explanation (okay, in the 68 pages I read) as to why Joey seemed to know or believe his mother was going to die before she did. Then the only character I liked was Boris, and he was quickly left behind. The rest of the characters were complete caricatures of nasty school bullies and officials. I like to read about horrible things happening to characters, but humiliation doesn't qualify, and they ought to be interesting horrible things. Nope. The writing itself was good, so I may give Daniel Kraus a try in the future.

Was anyone else confused when Joey's dad announced that he could blame him, because he killed his mom? There was no dialogue tag to specify who spoke, so I had no idea who it was until Joey thought about it later. I would think it didn't make sense for Joey to say that except that he often seemed to say things he wasn't actually thinking.
Profile Image for Stephanie.
29 reviews5 followers
February 6, 2011
*2/6/11 - After a lot of thought and a lot of discussion, I'm adding a star. Here's why: The book was supposed to be disturbing, and it did its job, a little too well, I think. I like dark lit, but this one went further than what I was prepared for! The kind of horror I like is the supernatural stuff. The stuff that doesn't exist. The stuff that scares me in a not-fun-anymore way is the darkness that comes from real people, and shows/movies/books that portray that particular brand of darkness freak me out way more than anything otherworldly. My original 3-star rating was based more on gut instinct than on what I actually said about the book, which isn't fair.

Bottom line: Would I want my high schooler to read it if I had one? I think it depends a lot on the maturity level of the high schooler. Like I said in my original review, this book is not for everyone.

Read the review, read the book, decide for yourself!

I really have to give some hard thought to my review of this book... I have very mixed feelings about it.

Take one part touching story about a boy (Joey) losing his mother and going to live with the father he never knew existed. Add one part teenage angst about starting over in a new school and from day one, being the target of the violent meat-head school bully and his cronies. Add the embarrassment of having a town pariah as your father and showing up at school smelling like garbage every day. Mix in a crush on meat-head's girlfriend, for added measure, and a vindictive teacher bent on torturing Joey all year long.

Now, sprinkle into your promising mix the following:

Joey's suspicion of his father's life of thievery, which takes a turn for the macabre when he follows the old man one night. Watching his father clip a finger off of a disembodied hand to pocket the gold ring, he discovers just what kind of thievery it is.

Joey's first night out under his philosophical, professor-like father's wing. You get to go along for the graphic ride as Joey takes part in his first dig and sees his first "Rotter."

The eventual revenge Joey takes on the three high school forces that ruin any chance for normalcy between the hours of 8-3. I'm at a loss for words trying to describe the form of revenge. Creative, for sure, but also dark, gruesome, disgusting and twisted. So very twisted. My feelings of "they got what was coming to them" were tainted by my slight revulsion of the method.

A dark, sad cast of other Diggers peppering the story, including one whose drug-fueled wasting illness, descent into insanity and sickening violation of Joey's own mother's buried body isn't enough to keep Joey away. The maniacal teachings and philosophies of his father's old enemy were grotesquely fascinating, like a terrible car accident that people stop traffic to gawk at.

A vile project by one whose right mind left him long ago, threatening to bring an end to a long, proud line of Diggers. Kraus occasionally pays homage to the history of grave-robbing by mentioning Scotland's resurrection men, who dug up fresh bodies for medical study, and Leonardo da Vinci, who apparently used the bodies to study human form.

For the pièce de résistance, top with the subtle instances of alcoholism, bullying, bodily mutilation (of the live variety), necrophilia and the difficult journey of teenage self-realization.

Rotters was unlike any book I'd ever read. And I've read some dark ones. I feel like the "normal" elements of the story would appeal to any high schooler who's ever been bullied at school or crushed on someone socially out of reach (myself included). It's the parts that come in between, the dark, creepy parts that make you think twice about turning out the lights, that take a special kind of reader to enjoy. I'm not sure which line Kraus crossed to leave me feeling so uneasy after the book was finished (cuz he crossed a lot of lines with this one), but even now, while I'm writing what I feel is a kind of negative review, I want to pick up the book and read it over again.

Kraus, for all his gruesome genius, is a very gifted writer. I couldn't help but laugh at some of his cleverly worded passages (there is, in fact, humor in this book as well!). His Diggers, in spite of all their oddness, dirt and stink, are somehow much more likable than anyone "normal" within the high school's doors. The relationship between Joey and his father grows and develops in a very real way, in spite of the dark cacophony surrounding it, and though it isn't all happy, the book has a pretty satisfying conclusion.

I would recommend this book to those with a very open mind and a very strong stomach. If you like things that are dark, creepy, twisted, suspenseful and more than a little shocking, you will probably enjoy the adventure of reading this book. If you are squeamish about anything I've mentioned above, take a pass because nothing I've written does justice to Kraus' work.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Zombieslayer⚡Alienhunter.
393 reviews67 followers
February 9, 2017
After the death of his mother, Joey Crouch is relocated from Chicago to the small town of Bloughton, Iowa, with the father he's never known.
He didn't know his father's name, what he looked like or why his mother had left him until being passed off to him by social services.

The town of Bloughton knows Ken Harnett as 'the Garbageman'. Joey isn't thrilled about this, but at least the bum has a job, right?
However, Joey realizes the Garbageman is not a city employee. 'The Garbageman' is a hateful nickname, not a title, and before too long Joey realizes why that is.

A secret society, age-old legends, the closest thing to a family Joey's had since the death of his mother, all stand right in front of him.
Father and son begin a routine of education, torment, work, friendship... And darkness.

.... Yeah. That's it.
I can't say anything about Rotters that that description up there doesn't.
I don't know what words to use to describe it.
Hypnotic? Disgusting? Real? Terrifying?
All of the above?

I'm not sure I know what makes this book 'young adult'. The age of the main character who narrates the book, I guess.
There is nothing 'young' about this book.
I keep seeing it on YA horror book lists with Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and I can't not issue a warning here:
If Miss Peregrine's scared you or grossed you out at all, stay the hell away from Rotters. I've read horror, a lot of it, and this book is one of few to cause me an actual uneasy feeling. Let alone a... Well, not a nightmare. A nightmare-like dream.
This isn't the type of horror you think it is when you see the title and the cover- it's highly psychological and too real to not be scary. I mean it here, folks, enter at your own risk.
I lost almost three whole days in this book.

Daniel Kraus has an amazing storytelling ability. The writing isn't complex, the action (what little there was) wasn't overdone, and the characters are as hard to listen to as members of your own family. I read the first chapter (hell, the first five or six pages) and I knew all my spare time was going into Rotters for the foreseeable future.
But back to the characters.
They're incredibly real, and nothing is sugarcoated about the way they live and who they are. They mostly suck. Their lives mostly suck. But life mostly sucks, and we're alive to live it, so it's okay.
A personal favorite was probably Foley. He wasn't a main character and I'm glad he wasn't, he was spread out throughout the story and that was perfect. There aren't a lot of blonde metalheads or 'young adults' who know who Tony Iommi is. We kinda need to have each other's backs.
And his kind of nihilism, "yeah, everybody sucks, but so do I, so it's okay." is way more my speed than the typical "idiots, idiots, I am surrounded by idiots." attitude most other YA characters have.

My recommendation up there is legit. I've read several books by Joe Hill and I think anyone who liked his work would love Rotters. The same gritty feel and the same ambiance of impending doom.
Not to mention you'd need a Joe Hill-trained stomach to get through the damn book.

I actually have two other books by Daniel Kraus on my TBR already, Trollhunters and Scowler, and believe me they just moved significantly up the stack.

I had some other books sitting on my table to read after this, Drawing Blood and Sick, but I think I need some outlandish fantasy/humor or a sarcastic urban fantasy after all of that.
Profile Image for AH.
2,005 reviews370 followers
July 25, 2013
Got this audio book from Sync's summer 2013 free audio book downloads.

A word of warning - this book is definitely not for the squeamish - however, if you can sit through an episode of CSI without covering your eyes, you should be able to handle it.

The audio book was well done. The narrator brought all the characters to life, especially that of Joey, our unlikely hero in this story. He portrayed Joey very well and it was easy to get invested in Joey's daily life.

The book started off a little slow for me. Joey is quite neurotic, recounting the many ways his mother could die. He "specifies" or hyper-focuses on little things, bringing a unique perspective to his thought processes. Joey's entire world crashes down on him when his mother does indeed die. Joey is sent to live with his reclusive father Harnett in a rural town in Iowa. Joey's father is known as "The Garbageman" and the house is basically a hovel. Joey is not even picked up at the train station, nor is there any food in the house. His father has not prepared for Joey's arrival at all. To add to this, Joey is very much grieving the death of his much loved mother.

School proves to be a challenge as well. Joey is an A student and is extremely bright but the blight of having The Garbageman for a father is too much. Joey is the target of bullies, including a horrid teacher Mr. Gotchaulk (not sure of the spelling since I listened to the book). I felt for Joey. School should not be such a horrible place, but Joey prevails and keeps up his average despite the odds.

Then Joey discovers exactly what his father does for a living. I won't go into that, only that his father teaches Joey the family business as well. And Joey meets a whole circle of people that also do the same thing for a living. These guys are a fraternity of crazy men and the plot thickens....

Rotters was a captivating story, a little too detailed on the gory stuff (specifying, I guess), and a wonderful coming of age story. I would recommend this book to high school students and up. I think that boys would relate to the main character as well. The audio book version is well worth looking into and would probably make a good road trip listen.
Profile Image for Donalyn.
Author 7 books5,907 followers
April 6, 2012
Joey Crouch, consumed with his grades and playing the trumpet, loses everything that matters to him when is mother is suddenly killed. Forced to live with the father he never met, Joey discovers that his father belongs to the secret brotherhood of grave robbers. When Hartnett finally includes Joey in his nightly forays into graveyards, the older man begins to teach Joey what he knows and the pair develop a tenuous relationship as mentor and apprentice.

Rotters reminds me a great deal of the Stephen King books I read as a teen--books that examined the dark side of human nature, while revealing humanity's honor, love, and dignity through the darkest, most horrifying moments of the characters' lives.

Oustanding writing that was so compelling I stopped listening to the award winning audio, and dug up a paper copy so I could power through it in one day.

Profile Image for Josiah.
3,211 reviews145 followers
November 11, 2017
Several distinguished authors supplied blurbs for this book. On the dust jacket of the edition I read, Guillermo del Toro, R.L. Stine, and Scott Westerfeld each praise Daniel Kraus and Rotters, but the blurb I take notice of is Rick Yancey's. His Monstrumologist series is undeniably similar to Rotters, about a talented practitioner of a grotesque ancient profession mentoring a teenager in its intricacies, trying to keep the art form from going extinct without a new generation to pass it down to. Dr. Pellinore Warthrop had young Will Henry to instruct in the science of monstrumology, and Ken Harnett has sixteen-year-old Joey Crouch, his own estranged son, after Joey's mother dies in an accident and Joey is sent to live with his reclusive father. Harnett robs graves, operating under cloak of night to disinter buried bodies and pick them clean of all valuables packed in their caskets. If the community knew—and they already distrust and revile Harnett on instinct—they would form a mob and kill him, but Harnett hasn't survived all these years through carelessness. Now he has Joey to include in his secret, to pump fresh blood into a dying profession, but keeping them both safe from the outrage of decent society will be no easy trick.

"A fantasy world is the best kind of world to live in because if you don't want it to end it doesn't have to, and it can totally take over Mere Reality."

—Celeste Carpenter, Rotters, P. 180

Joey gets off to a bad start at his new school. He's a pariah for being related to Harnett, and only a few students ever become tenuous friends of his. But Joey doesn't mind being ostracized once his father grudgingly accepts him as apprentice to the grave-robbing trade. Harnett takes Joey on midnight runs to every cemetery within a few days' travel, imparting lessons his son would never learn in school. The bodies are disgusting puddles of oozing flesh and decaying organs inside the coffins, but Harnett knows which graves are likely to yield riches, and Joey slowly gets used to the putrid treasure hunt. Harnett is a loner, but he's also part of an international brotherhood of grave robbers who regard the occupation as sacred, solemnly keeping the secrets of their extended kin. Except for Boggs, that is, whose past with Harnett is long and bitter. Boggs threatens to expose the underground network of grave robbers to the world, a death sentence for its every member. The risks of robbing graves are manifold under the best circumstances, but Joey and Harnett have a serious enemy in Boggs, who could orchestrate the demise of father and son.

Across the United States the drama rages, Joey and Harnett quietly going about their gruesome business and Boggs always on their tail when he isn't ahead of them. A showdown between the three passionate gravediggers is assured, but who will survive this final test of fealty to family and profession? Will Joey's soul remain intact after the things he must do in the name of his father and the job they both hold dear?

It would be hard to pin down when Rotters is set if not for a reference to President Barack Obama. Presumably, then, the book takes place sometime between 2009 and 2017, probably around 2011, when it was released. Rotters isn't The Monstrumologist, a thrilling look at Dr. Warthrop's profession through the eyes of an impressionable twelve-year-old. The action is looser than in that novel, less defined, not as easy to follow. The motivations of the characters are less clear and compelling, and the philosophy isn't as potent. Daniel Kraus crafts energetic sentences loaded with rhythmic vocabulary, and in this area he's not as far off what Rick Yancey treats us to in the Monstrumologist series, but even here he's not quite as excellent. Nonetheless, I appreciate the verve of Rotters, and I'd read more from Daniel Kraus. The authors who blurbed him have done better work, in my opinion, but if you like splatter stories, you'll want to try this one on for size.
Profile Image for Autumn Bridger.
14 reviews3 followers
July 5, 2018
Spoilers Below.

This book has one thing going for it. Voice. The writer has an easy way of drawing you in with natural prose.

The story itself is original, but fragmented. We hop from shut-in Joey to high-school drama-and-bulling-and-abused-by-his-father-and-teacher Joey. Then Joey discovers his father's gravedigging and goes from being horrified to partner-in-crime in a nonsensical twist that has no real transition. It's not believable and it's not thought out. It was like the author shouted "Hey look!" and switched the plotline while we had our back turned for a second.

But that's not all. Somehow we end up in Hollywood eating out of garbage cans with the man who desecrated Joey's mother. I mean. It's like the whole thing was written with no regard for any of the previous story as it trudged on.

There is no tightening to make this cohesive. It's more like a draft of a story than a story. It feels sloppy and lazy.

The story isn't the only victim either.

Joey makes Twilight's Bella Swan seem like a multidimensional character. This kid is not a character he's just a name on the page. No amount of throwing abuse and tragedy at a name makes a character a character. If this book has demonstrated ANYTHING it is that. This book could literally be used in schools to teach that because the author threw every horrible thing he could muster up at this name on the page and yet he could not develop a character out of any of it because he assumed that characters write themselves I guess.

In a fantastical reverse the writer who couldn't breathe any life into his character also somehow managed to assign the most asinine choices to his Joey-thing that I'd have about as much sympathy for this kid as I do for Dolores Umbridge...that is if I could muster up any incentive to feel anything.

It astounds me that a book can contain so much abuse and unfairness and horrific imagery and I could not manage to feel one emotion. Even once.

But let's say I did feel something. What is the author trying to get me to feel here? Are we really supposed to sympathize with a kid who decides to pal around with a guy who did what he himself equivalents to rape to his own dead mother's body? Are we supposed to feel something when letting the creepoid go gets his dad killed? Anyone really feel sorry for this kid? Anyone? Bueller? No.

And if I'm NOT supposed to feel bad for Joey then why did we have to trudge through the poor pitiful Joey show? Was this an attempt to pull a Walter White protagonist turned antagonist out of your hat writer guy? No dice.

This book was not ready to be published. Maybe if it had been? It'd have been okay. There are hints that this writer might know how to write but to be honest he needs some better editors and a critic or two in his beta-reader pool.
Profile Image for Erin Reilly-Sanders.
1,009 reviews22 followers
May 2, 2012
Not really my cup of tea. I like tea but I didn’t care much for Rotters. I don’t know if I’ve become squeamish about my YA/children’s fiction all of a sudden (I was a bit put off by the nosebleeds in Dead End in Norvelt, although some of that may have been the story as well). I personally doubt that to be the case but feel free to try to convince me otherwise. I do think that Rotters is doing something interesting by importing aspects of fantasy into contemporary realistic(?) fiction, perhaps comparable in a strange way to Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves, although maybe I should say “trying to do something.” At the end, I’m still not sure what the point was. It’s got some interesting commentary about life and death and shows growing familial love and some nice metaphors about rebirth but it’s got some sort of obvious flaws. My biggest gripe is that it’s long and somewhat tedious, exasperated by listening to it on audio where there is no skimming. The point of view is unconvincing. The main character, goes back and forth between the believable cussing and blunt banter of an intelligent teenager, to an author trying overly hard to “talk literary” with awkward and strained phrases like “terror whipped in black fragments” and “glass fell from my lashes.” Oh, and this is a major problem because the book is written in first person. The foreshadowing of the C.A.S. system makes the fact that Joey is going to be buried alive a little too apparent for my tastes, but also left me confused as to why this would be such a concern. However, we do get great rebirth metaphors from climbing out of a grave and what book about grave digging would be complete without the scenario? I had trouble suspending disbelief at various aspects of the practice of gravedigging- social connections, physics, the commonality of the practice- and while I hope the author didn’t do any hands on research, I’d be curious if he based this on anything beyond his own imagination. I’m also unsure of the message- that weirdos kill people and do mean things but stop by becoming normal and socially accepted? If I want a book about humanity, community, strength, and the fragile transience of flesh, I’d read something else- Feed by M.T. Anderson, Genesis by Bernard Beckett, Give a Boy a Gun by Todd Strasser, or After the First Death by Robert Cormier. If you’re going to get ugly and play with these issues, do it in a way that touches the human spirit and kick my butt with your book.
Profile Image for Beth.
744 reviews40 followers
October 22, 2013
I loved the premise. A teen/family business of grave robbing. Cool, that hasn't been done before. This just wasn't followed through correctly. The pacing was all over the place, then the ending just unraveled, almost like the editor was alright you need to wrap this up quicker. So it felt very messy.
I wanted to like this book. The gore and the creep factor was great, the story was just eh for me.
Profile Image for Spider the Doof Warrior.
433 reviews238 followers
August 19, 2012
I'm sorry, but I really would rather have a 9-5 job than have to dig up dead bodies and steal from them.

Also, are all Biology teachers assholes in modern YA?
Profile Image for Otchen Makai.
193 reviews50 followers
August 9, 2019
This is a very interesting book.
I could identify with the normal bits of moving to a new place and instantly becoming the target of hatred for not much more than just being new.
The other more creepy dark bits were very well written, gruesome and interesting.
The book definitely has you holding onto every moment of this kids world.
A lot of gore, a lot of gasp-worthy moments, a lot of really unforgettable characters that the main character keeps forgetting about (as part of the story), all highly entertaining.
Wasn’t really sure what category to throw this little monster into, so went ahead and dropped it into the horror section.
Highly recommend.
Profile Image for Christi Nogle.
Author 43 books53 followers
September 13, 2022
Wow! This wasn't a book that was on my radar at all, but I happened upon it through the Libby app and was enthralled.
Profile Image for Mark.
230 reviews28 followers
April 28, 2011
"My path to school took me past lawns ornamented with foam gravestones spray-painted with novelty names like Dr. Acula and D. Ed Corpse. I saw little kids with backpacks and lunch boxes rush out front doors and pause to straighten these memorials and I almost laughed. For one day a year, even children pretended to cozy up to the dead. What everyone forgot was that beneath those fake stones were real graves - maybe eons old, maybe fresh. The dead were below everything and everyone and that fact did not change just because tomorrow these families would whisk these decorations into boxes and put those boxes into attics. They were fooling themselves. Eventually a man with a shovel would wait them out. Last night that man had been me."

Joey Crouch is a sixteen-year old, straight-A student, living with his divorced mother in downtown Chicago. When his mother dies is a sudden and tragic accident, Joey is sent, per his mother's wishes, to rural Iowa to live with his father, a man he has never met, and whom his mother of almost never. Upon his arrival at Ken Harnett's meager cabin, Joey quickly learns that his father has not prepared at all for his arrival, takes no interest in providing him with a home, and is absent more than he is home. Joey finally sneaks out to see where Ken's trips take him, and is shocked when the road leads to a graveyard, where Harnett emerges with jeweled rings, still attached to a severed hand. Harnett is a grave robber, a Digger, one of the last in a long line of men whose trade traces its roots back centuries. With no interest in school, and already an outcast at the mercy of his school's bullies, Joey begins to assist his father on his midnight journeys; he seems inexplicably drawn to this macabre occupation, and even more startling to him, he has a real knack for it. Before long, Joey comes to be known among other Diggers simply as The Son, and his skill and instincts mark him as potentially even greater than his legendary father. But the Diggers are a dying breed, and the end of their line is being hastened by Boggs, once Harnett's partner, now a Digger whose bizarre plans and actions threaten the existence of Diggers, and the lives of Joey and his father.

I never thought I would write the following sentence: I ignored my children over the past few days, to read a book about grave robbing. Kraus had me from the exquisite prologue, and I did not want the book to end after that. This is a harrowing, dark, chilling, and twisted novel; it is also brilliantly crafted, and hauntingly beautiful. Kraus's plot is incredible - there were no loose ends, and even though a reader can see some events coming, it still takes nothing away from the power of those events, as they unfold. There are characters and scenes from this novel that will haunt me for a long time, and I don't consider that a bad thing at all. This is a masterful book about life and death, the nature of family and fate, and the ways society will happily accept some cruelties and crimes, while abhorring or ignoring others. While certainly not for the faint of heart, or weak of stomach, this novel does have important things to say to all readers. Teachable? No. But definitely highly recommended, for readers who can handle it. They will not put the book down unrewarded.
Profile Image for Hylary Locsin.
166 reviews7 followers
October 3, 2011
Originally posted on my blog: http://libraryladyhylary.blogspot.com ! Check it out for more reviews!

Joey Crouch has lived a sheltered life in Chicago with his eccentric but loving mother. After she is tragically killed in a bus accident, Joey is sent to live with the father he has never met in the small town of Bloughton, Iowa. Not sure what to expect, Joey's worst fears are realized when his new smalltown life fraught with unhappiness: his father, Ken Harnett, is an unkempt and unfriendly man who immediately lets Joey know that his presence is not desired. Joey is treated horribly at his new high school, constantly mocked, bullied, and abused by students and teachers. Joey does find some solace in the company of his friendly band teacher who encourages him to continue playing trumpet, a skill fostered by his mother. But as Joey's life becomes more and more depressing, even music seems pointless in the endless monotony of torment. One night, Joey decides to learn the truth about his father's odd behavior and hides in his truck as he leaves for another one of his late night trips. Joey soon discovers Harnett's secret: he is a professional grave robber, or Digger, who makes a living pawning the treasures he steals from the dead. At first, Joey is horrified. Soon, however, he is drawn into the mysterious world of the Diggers as Harnett teaches him the finer points of uncovering a corpse.

This tense and often disturbing novel packs a powerful punch on many different fronts. The opening of the novel outlines the strange relationship between Joey and his mother then quickly jumps into the events following her death. After Joey arrives in Middle America, the juxtaposition of his experiences at his new high school and the "adventures" he has with his father makes for an interesting but also horrifying plot. Once Joey learns that he is good at his father's craft, he uses digging as a means of escaping the torment, abuse, and bullying enacted upon him at his high school. The satisfaction the reader feels at Joey's overcoming these obstacles is curious in light of the fact that it is obtained through his enjoyment of grave robbing with his long-lost pops. Graphic descriptions of what can be found six-feet-under, including such phrases as "coffin liquor" and "the boneyard blues," make parts of the novel difficult to get through in a stomach churning way. These horrors, however, are what make Rotters such a unique, utterly original, and highly memorable novel. Kraus does a fantastic job of turning something as disgusting as grave robbing into a means for a father and son to connect. The novel, while written for young adults, definitely has a place in adult literature as well, and can be enjoyed by any reader who wants something truly different from anything they've ever read.

Wow. This is certainly different from any book I have ever read, and was, at times, very difficult to get through. I'm not sure what to make of it. It is very well written and the characters are engaging, but in a horrifying way. Kraus dives head first into the utterly macabre, and only brave readers should dare to follow him into the world six-feet-under. While the novel will make your stomach turn, you will find yourself unable to wait arriving at the fascinating conclusion. I will definitely remember Rotters for a long time.

Displaying 1 - 30 of 823 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.