For Young Readers
By Daniel Kraus
Macabre, morbid, monstrous…and mesmerizing…this is Joey’s life from the first chapter of Rotters, when Joey’s beloved mother dies, to the last page. Sentenced to live with his father, Ken Harnett, who is apparently employed as some sort of "garbage man," Joey quickly becomes a smelly social outcast, a starving orphan, and the target of every bully at Bloughten High. It doesn’t take long for Joey to realize that his father has an extremely dark and tremendously disturbing secret that is the reason for Joey’s martyrdom and why Joey’s future is about to change. Joey is a character that readers will embrace and love, for his weakness, for his innocence, and ultimately for his deplorable revenge. Kraus’s tale of woe challenges some works of YA described as "dark" and ups the ante. Kraus crosses moral boundaries that some may think should not be crossed, and takes the protagonist, Joey, to the very brink of insanity. This story, inspired by the "Resurrection Men" of world history, is written in graphic, visceral prose. Indeed, Kraus’s Poesque descriptions give writers like Andrew Smith of the Marbury Lens and Rick Yancy of The Monstrumologist Series a run for their money, and leave readers reluctant to enjoy the story while dining. The audio production of this edgy tale was the recipient of the Odyssey Award for the producer of the best audio book in the United States and Europe. Kirby Heyborne narrates a tale that sounds like it is told by a myriad of characters, skillfully and seamlessly switching from voice to voice without disturbing the listener’s experience. Kudos to Listening Library for their stellar production and most deserved award.