Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Rotters by Daniel Kraus

"Rotters" could have been retitled as "I was a teenage grave robber," but I suppose that lacks pizazz.  If there is one thing this novel has is pizazz and more.  It's a dark book of adolescent growth and mysteries both of the living and the dead.  I admit I had trouble getting through the first couple chapters cause the teen agnst was warped up to "11" but after a bit the story really caught fire and I became engrossed.

This is the story of Joey Crouch who's just a typical teen until his mom dies.  He's sent to live with his father who has never met and believes was partially responsible for his mother's death.  His father is a hermit that the local town calls "The Garbage Man," though that seems more for how he smells then his real job.  He has no time for his son as he leaves his cabin for mysterious assignments.  Joey, meanwhile, has to deal with a hostile school environment where both teachers and students are against him.  They automatically peg him a loser and give him the new name of "Crotch."

This would get all depressing and all, but luckily Joey finds out that his dad is not just a grave robber but something of the king of all grave robbers.  He then becomes his father's apprentice and learns quite a bit about subjects that most folk wouldn't want to know about.  There's a lot detail in this section and some of it is a bit stomach turning to those weak of heart, but still fascinating.  This section oddly enough reminds me of "Holes," because it's amazing how digging a lot of holes will not just change your physique, but your character as well.  Unfortunately, this disturbing idyllic time couldn't last.  The father's ex partner and now permanent nut ball, Baby, comes back because he wants ... well he wants Joey for one thing.  He also wants revenge and he wants to become famous.  His life's work is now the Rotter's book where he catalogs all his crimes and intends for the world to know every grave he violated.

Baby is an incredible villain who is oddly sympathetic but obviously homicidal.  He drives this part of the novel as he bedevils father and son to the point of nearly driving them mad.  He then becomes Joey's new mentor for a time, at least until he decides that Joey must die.  The end to the novel leads to an incredible climax where father, son, and Baby fight in a cemetery drowning in a hurricane.  I can safely say that by the end I thought this book was just awesome.  It's certainly worth a read if you can handle some of the more grisly details.

1 comment: