When I first heard Josh Vogt introduce Enter the Janitor at the ConnectiCon world-building panel, I immediately wrote it down and said to myself, “I have to read this.” Alex ended up buying it the next day, and when we got home, he finished reading it in about five hours. Squeeing uncontrollably. Needless to say, I was pretty excited when it was my turn to read it.
The overall concept is really interesting, and Vogt managed to do some pretty cool things with it. The story is about a supernatural sanitation company, focusing on the wise-cracking old janitor, Ben, and his mysophobic new recruit, Dani. Admittedly, I had trouble connecting to the characters at first. They initially came across as impersonable and flat, but they grow immensely as the book goes on. Just as the characters grow closer to each other and become more comfortable with their surroundings, I grew closer to them. It was a relationship similar to how I felt while reading Flowers for Algernon, which is a testament to Vogt’s skill as a writer.
Other things I appreciated from a writer’s point of view was the attention to detail in every facet of the writing. In addition to great character development, the book exemplifies strong world-building. Something I strive for in my writing is a strong balance and attention to both world-building and character development, and Enter the Janitor doesn’t disappoint on this front. The deeper you’re plunged into the world of the Cleaners, the less inclined you feel to leave.
Also worth noting is the incredible sensory description throughout the book. One of the points mentioned in the ConnectiCon panel was to pay attention to sound and smell, senses that novice writers often neglect. Enter the Janitor, on the other hand, is loaded with vivid imagery from all senses. The concept of that filth/sanitation contrast is a fantastic opportunity to showcase this kind of description, and Vogt hits it out of the park.
Overall, I feel good about having read this book, and I believe I’ve learned some great writing techniques as a result. If I had to say anything bad about it, it would be that I probably would’ve connected to some of the dialogue and jokes better if I were a guy (or, at least, a stereotypical teenage boy). But that can’t be helped, and it didn’t prevent me from enjoying the book. I can’t wait for the sequel, The Maids of Wrath!