Last year I participated in YALSA’s Best of the Best Challenge. The challenge? From April 1st to June 30th, to read at least 25 of the 80 books that won awards or honors or were named to a Top Ten list. My favorite category was the Odyssey Award for best audiobooks. I listened to all five books from that list. Because I was simply choosing books from the list, I didn’t bother to read what the books were about before starting most of them. So, when I picked up Rotters, I just assumed that it was about zombies, because, you know, zombies are big. Imagine my surprise to find out, nope, not zombies. Gravediggers. How cool is that? Who writes about gravediggers?* Who thinks about gravediggers? Apparently Daniel Kraus does and he has written one heck of a book. Here’s my review from when I read it.
Grabbed this because of the YALSA challenge, so I didn’t read anything about it before starting it. I wasn’t too enthusiastic thinking it was just another zombie book. So, when I realized it was grave robbers, I was intrigued.
At the beginning, I was curious as to how this had won the Odyssey Award this year. Kirby Heyborne’s narration was okay, but nothing earth shattering. Then I got to Harnett and thought, this guy is good. Then Knox came along and I was wowed. Then we met Lionel and I could understand why this book won. (He’s still no Rupert Degas, but he’s up there.)
It was interesting to listen to this not long after Ghetto Cowboys and see a different take on the “father and son reunion” story.
I liked that this was a pretty original idea for a book. The subculture of the diggers was well drawn. The outsider in a small town was also well told (I loved the line from the principal about how Harnett never came to homecoming, as if it were a mortal sin). I liked Knox as the keeper of the consciences.
There were some things that were hard to take…how quickly Joey will fall in with whomever he is “chasing”–first digging with Harnett (view spoiler). The biology teacher was just a bit too over the top cruel. And Joey at times seemed to have a split personality and a 48 hour day. And I kept wanting Lionel to intervene when the “bad jobs” came up.
All in all, a good story and a great narration.
And here’s the official book trialer
*Apparently Steve Sheinkin, the guy who wrote Bomb that I loved so much, is writing about them as well. I hear his new book is Lincoln’s Grave Robbers. I can NOT wait to read that!