Rotters - Daniel Kraus
Beware minor SPOILERS below . . .

I'm not quite sure where to begin when it comes to this book. I almost couldn't continue reading past the first section, because it was so triggering to me. Not to mention that the first half is incredibly sexist.

But first, I might as well touch on the prologue. I'm all for prologues, usually, but only when they effectively set up something for the book. The prologue sure talked about death, but it felt like it tried to set up something else that had nothing to do with the rest of the book. It goes on to tell about how his mother would die, like he could sense the day she would die; this was pretty clear. He absolutely knew his mother would die that day. So, as a reader, I thought some sort of sense was being introduced, but it was forgotten as soon as it was over. The whole death-sense was a gimmick to set up his mother's death. I felt kind of cheated, right there at the beginning.

When Joey relocated to his father's town, I was horrified. I felt like Kraus treated small towns and its people like some sort of joke. Coming from a town half the size than the one in the book (and from the Midwest, too), I felt like he was trying to exaggerate every stereotype he could find just for the purpose of making his main protagonist out to be a cynical dirtbag. It's also easy to see this book was written by a man. The few women characters mentioned in this book were the one Joey "fell for" right away, who was, naturally, so perfect and gorgeous and with the perfect body. The other was his dead mother. Joey only thought of Celeste, this perfect girl, as the perfect body. I get that he's a guy in high school, but this blatant sexism is ridiculous and does not serve to enhance voice or POV (because no author should try for a voice in the main character that's overwhelmingly sexist. I don't care if the author thinks this is what teens are like. If the behavior or way of thinking is not corrected or seen as wrong, do not incorporate it into the main character's voice). There was even a passage where Joey was trying to look at Celeste and had to curve around all the other "ugly bodies." That actually happened. That exact wording.

I feel like I should mention what was so triggering to me, but it still kind of causes me some pain, so I won't go into it. It's also pretty personal. But this was so unexpected and painful that it made me wish there was a page at the front of books nowadays that had trigger warnings . . .

About midway through the book, things finally began to happen. The first half revealed itself to be just setup, at most. However, a villain was finally introduced and everything that followed were random plot points and things that lacked a connection with the first half. Plot details kept getting introduced, like the story was growing more complex, but it felt to me that they were rather random and introduced because a finale was needed and the author was a bit too lazy to go back and foreshadow more.

Not to mention this book was way too long. I think that Kraus was too reluctant to kill of his "first draft babies," little plot points that could be removed to tighten the manuscript.

Anyways, I didn't really enjoy this book, and I think it had problematic themes that were never addressed. The main character grew largely more dislikable as the story went on (though the conclusion was satisfying enough), and each new problem seemed like a cadence that never really landed on the I chord for the last time.