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.
<— Love the cover.
This is one heck of a dark, depressing and creepy book. The description of decaying corpses is enough to make your stomach churn (coffin liquor anyone?) However, the intense dark matter it what makes it so unique and original. It is definitely something I’ve never read before. I especially enjoyed learning about the history and mythology of grave robbing. At the same time, I wondered how exactly Kraus completed his research for the book. It felt like the detailed descriptions stemmed from actual experience-including how to escape being buried alive, and how to rob a grave without being detected. A less morbidly explaination points to Kraus’ excellent writing ability (which is undeniably evident throughout).
Although it is based on grave robbing and death, there are also many other themes and issues in the book including family relationships and bullying. I don’t understand how his biology teacher could get away with such harassment. I felt sorry for Joey, but also frustrated and angry with him for not seeking help. In the end, I was satisfied with Joey’s story and the ending. While Joey’s story could be continued in a series, I’m glad it remains a well-written stand-alone title.