When Joey’s mother is killed he is sent to live with the father he never met – Ken Harnett. In addition to dealing with the grief of losing his mother, he has to suffer through high school as the new kid where he immediately becomes the target of ridicule and pranks. No one in town likes Harnett and now, by association, Joey. To make matters even worse, Harnett doesn’t even speak to him. Joey doesn’t have food in the house, he sleeps in the corner of a dark and dirty cabin, and spends most of his time alone since his father leaves for days at a time for “work.” After a while, Joey can’t stand it any longer and decides to follow Harnett to see what he does when he leaves the house. Harnett is a grave robber. Now, Joey knows. He doesn’t know whether to turn in Harnett or ask to go with him.
Eventually, Harnett begins to train Joey in the art of grave robbing. He forces him to practice digging, learn the history of the profession, and research where the best graves will be. Soon, digging is his only relief since school is nothing but continuous torture. Joey learns the ins and outs of being a Digger and even meets others from around the United States. When one of the best Diggers suffers a mental break he begins to endanger all the Diggers. Will Joey and Harnett be able to stop him and prevent the Diggers from being revealed?
ROTTERS isn’t for the squeamish. The book is filled with death and detailed descriptions of what the body goes through during decomposition. The life Joey is forced to live is heart-breaking and I was brought to tears several times toward the end of the book. Never would I have thought I could call a book about digging up dead bodies beautiful, but ROTTERS is. Daniel Kraus does a fantastic job creating characters that you definitely feel for. Harnett is an especially surprising character and maybe even my favorite from the story.
I listened to ROTTERS on audio and it was fantastic. I have looked at this book on my shelf for a while, but finally moved it up my list when it won The Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production from YALSA in January. I’m very glad I did.
Sexual Content: None
Language Content: Moderate
Violence Content: Moderate