Author: Daniel Kraus
Narrator: Kirby Heyborne
Run Time: 16hrs and 23 min
Producer: Listening Library
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.
If you had told me a month ago that I would listen to an audio book where grave-robbing was the main premise behind the story, I probably would have laughed in your face and said as if…now, I would say, why the heck had I never heard of the book Rotters before. Yes, Rotters…I mean, the connotation just in that word – the decaying of a body after death and what’s left – I mean, I knew that grave-robbing was historically a way that doctors got bodies to study/experiment on – but in a modern day setting, not so much (I do have to admit that I am kind of paranoid about being buried now)…
But not only is it a story of the horror of death and decay, it’s also a tale of the love between the father and a son – of bringing someone into the family job/line of work; of dealing with bullies in school and being able to move on from tragedy in life as a young person to be successful. It is a very powerful coming of age story. And one that I would never have discovered, if it happened been offered as one of the free audio books in the YA Sync literature program this year (for more information on that click HERE).
I will say that the narrator, Kirby Heyborne, is fast becoming a favorite of mine. This is the 4th book that I’ve listened to where he has been the narrator and by far one of the best. I sat in my car at one stage, with shivers running up and down my spine listening to him say Rotters, over and over again. It was freaky to hear (and according to him on twitter, freaky to narrate). I will have to say, as a caveat, that if you have a weak stomach, you might either want to read it (not listen) or just avoid overall, there are several rather graphic descriptions of body decomposition – it almost made me cringe (and that stuff normally doesn’t bother me, unless its vomit and then well, all bets are off).
I thought that Kirby nailed the voice of Joey – that awkward, out of place teenager, struggling to find her place in the world, and then comparing it to the voice of his father, Ken, you could see how the narrator had tried to do some similar inflections to make the speech patterns common (if that makes sense and I don’t even know if it was on purpose).
I’d give Rotters a solid 4 stars for both the writing and narration. I’ll be looking out for more books by the author in the future, as well as “stalking” Kirby Heyborne for more audio book narrations.