Monday, November 17, 2014

Review: Scowler

By Daniel Kraus, read by Kirby Heyborne
Published 2013 by Listening Library

Ry and his family are still struggling. Marvin, their abusive father and husband, is locked up for now, but things are still not easy for them. Then a meteorite falls, bringing with it big change - and danger. Will Ry be able to protect his family? Or, deep down, does he share some evil with his father?

So. I've come to this review. You know, I write down books as I read them so I remember to go back and review them later (I really need to be better about reviewing immediately after finishing). When I saw that it was time to review this one, I rolled my eyes and contemplated skipping it. Because I don't want to write this review. It feels like admitting a major failure as a human being, because many people I respect absolutely love Daniel Kraus' books. And I do not.

I listened to Rotters after it won the Odyssey award and it didn't go well. I wasn't very surprised when this book won the Odyssey as well. Never one to write off an author after just one go, I decided to give this one a shot as well. Daniel Kraus and I are just not meant to be.

You know, it makes me feel terrible that I really did not enjoy these books, like I'm just not smart enough or paying enough attention to "get" them. I mean, I don't think that's actually true, but I feel like I must be missing something essential, since it seems pretty much everyone else has been blown away by Kraus and his writing.

Once again, I felt like Kraus was trying really hard to write a deep, complicated, philosophical, poetic book about something horrific and disturbing. As a whole, this book doesn't have quite as much disturbing imagery as the first, but it does feature a few very particular, very grotesque scenes. Most of the other less-than-positive reviews I've read have focused on the gore - those reviewers seem quite disturbed by it. If only I could explain my distaste for these books that easily. But I was raised on a steady diet of horror - I watched Jason and Freddy from a young age and grew into the horror of Hostel and Saw in later years. I wrote a thesis about horror films. I continually seek out new horror novels, hoping to find something that actually scares me. I'm not disturbed by gore. Kraus and I should be made for each other. But we're just not, and I don't know how else to say it.

Yet again, the audio production is pretty brilliant. Heyborne is enchanting as a narrator here, perfectly embodying the weirdness that runs through this novel. It's easy to see why this won the Odyssey. Unfortunately, I just can't get behind this book, and I don't think I'll be giving Kraus another try.

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