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Caution: This Book Stinks!

April 6, 2011

Occasionally you read a book that sticks with you long after you read the final word.  When this happens to me it is usually because I can relate to a character or the setting is somewhere familiar to me.  That is NOT the case with this book.  This book is NOTHING like me.  But I can’t stop thinking about this book! 

I read Rotters by Daniel Kraus, at least six months ago, maybe more.  But it still feels like yesterday.  I’m still having dreams about being buried alive, and lately rats have been making an appearance too.  Usually if a book gives me nightmares it isn’t a good thing, but this is different.  This isn’t scary, its creepy.  (What’s the difference between scary and creepy?  I’m not sure, but somehow its different!) 

Rotters begins as the story of 16-year-old Joey and his Mom.  Joey gets straight A’s, plays the trumpet and is an all around good kid.  Then everything changes.  After the death of his mother Joey is sent to Iowa to live with his Dad, a man he hasn’t ever met.  (So far this sounds like typical YA right?  Hold on, this is where it gets weird……….)  Joeys Dad, Ken, doesn’t have a typical job or lead a typical life.  He disappears for days on end, leaving Joey to take care of himself, and when he returns he seems to have an unnatural obsession with the Obituary section of the newspaper.  Ken is a grave robber.  Yes indeed, a real life grave robber!  (This is where it gets stinky.)  The way Daniel Kraus writes you feel like you are with Ken at the grave, you can hear the shovel slice through the dirt and rock, and when Ken jumps into the grave to rob the corpse you can smell the rot.  The scenes are so vivid I caught myself holding my breath, maybe because I was trying to keep the stink out of my nose, maybe because they are that well written.  (Maybe both.) 

And then the rats come.  I asked a friend to read this book and we have had numerous discussions about the rats.  I won’t tell you about them now, because I don’t want to ruin it for you, but after you read that part, when you need to talk to someone about it (and you will!) come back to this post and leave a comment.  I will write back to you.  I will understand the things you are feeling.  

I don’t usually say things like this, so please take it for exactly what it is.  One of the best books of 2011.  Seriously.  Corpses, rats, Joey and Ken make for a great book.  Plus the stink, you cannot forget about the stink.

And check out the book trailer here:

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Heather permalink
    April 6, 2011 9:31 am

    You have sold me on this book 🙂 I think my 8th graders will love it!

  2. Angela K Sherrill permalink
    April 6, 2011 9:35 am

    Rotters: Muddiest Book of the Year! (soon to be a Cuffie Award)

  3. April 6, 2011 9:58 am

    I’m glad to see my rat scene is finally getting some love. It’s one of my favorite scenes!


    • Nic permalink
      April 6, 2011 10:11 am

      The rat scene gave me some major shivers! And then I went back and read it again.

  4. Walter Mayes permalink
    April 11, 2011 6:50 pm

    You are not kidding. This is in my top 3 so far for the year and my kids have been fighting over the ARC. We will be featuring this prominently at our upcoming bookfair and I will be telling all the Independent School Librarians about it this week at our meeting in San Francisco.

    Dandy–bring this guy to us!! Please??????

    Walter Mayes
    The Girls’ Middle School
    Mountain View, CA


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