I've often talked about the fact that I enjoy being part of Blog it Forward because it means that I get to broaden my horizons and read things I might not normally choose for myself. Most of the time this is a good thing and I have fun. But books are a deeply personal thing, and in the case of Rotters by Daniel Kraus, I just could not connect.
It's not that the book was necessarily "bad", but rather that I just couldn't get into it. I knew this one might be a tough nut for me to crack and in the end I felt like I was being my head against a brick wall trying to bring myself into it's world. This can happen to anyone and usually boils down to reader preferences and author technique, subject, plotline or characters not lining up. I'll do my best to explain what I thought.
The Plot: (Summary from GoodReads)
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 makeRotters a moving, terrifying, and unconventional epic about fathers and sons, complex family ties, taboos, and the ever-present specter of mortality.
This book had darts being fired at it from word go from me, if I am being totally honest. I'm very into fantasy and mythology surrounding death, and when I first read the summary I thought this might work for me. But upon getting in there and reading, that just didn't end up being the case. I knew I was in trouble when the book arrived and the cover actually made me apprehensive to touch it. Much praise to the designers -- I bet it's absolutely ideal for the people who would naturally choose to pick this up. But for me? Eeeek, no. And that's sayin' something, because I've never thought of myself as having a week stomach.
Upon opening the book, it's prologue totally threw me for a loop. My main genres of reading are fantasy and paranormal romance, so I suppose it's safe to say I am use to my books being more dialog heavy then Rotters was. While this did change as the book progressed, the way the beginning was written made me really have to struggle to get inside the page, which tends to make me have a hard time staying interested and focused.
Because I could not connect with the writing style or 'voice' for Joey, it made the pacing feel off for me here as well. Someone who was able to get into what was going on might well have a completely different take on this then I did, though.
Joey and I just didn't connect. I couldn't get into the way that his character thought. I found that Daniel had his thoughts jump around quite a bit and this made it hard for me to really follow what was going on in his head.
His father, Ken, was slightly more interesting but could not make up for the issues that I had with this book. (As I keep saying, this is not an issue of 'can the author tell a story', but rather, 'Did you connect with it, Kat?').
Rotters just was not my kind of book. I'm not going to sit here and say that I "hated" it. I'm actually going to give it two hearts. Why? Because as I've said throughout my review, the problem here was not necessarily Daniel Kraus, but rather, it was me. I know that I was not clicking with this and I doubt there is really a thing he could have done to change that. If someone were interested in trying Rotters my advice would be to give it a go. The writing itself was solid and the premise was intriguing. In the right hands, I'm sure the book is fabulous. Those hands just aren't mine.