Review: Scowler by Daniel Kraus

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In the novel Scowler by Daniel Kraus, meteorites hit Iowa farm country and all hell breaks loose. Except, that’s not what the book is about. The book is about how Ry Burke comes to terms with the trauma his abusive father inflicted on his family prior to being sent to prison. The entire book takes place in the hours immediately before a meteorite impacts the Burke family farm and also the subsequent day. It’s a pretty intense day, as it involves both a meteorite and facing Ry’s escaped-convict father, Marvin.

This book is so intense. So, so, very intense. Now I know why Beth said, “I really hope you don’t hate me after this.” So intense. So, some content warnings: This book involves some pretty detailed descriptions of violence and abuse. It was so, so brutal. The book spiraled into insanity that was both useful and hellish.

I liked Ry and Jo Beth. I thought their characterizations presented them as full people. The writing would veer into the thoughtful and touching before winding its way back into horror. Sarah, Ry’s younger sister, is also pretty great. Marvin Burke is even presented as a full person. He has moments of humanity that make the violence seem even worse.

This book, man. It was good, but it was also very horrifying.

This was such a bummer to end the Pop Culture Homework Assignment on. But, true the assignment, it was horrific.

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