Croak by Gina Damico
Author: Gina Damico
Series: Croak (#1)
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: 3-20-12
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Fed up with her wild behavior, sixteen-year-old Lex’s parents ship her off to upstate New York to live with her Uncle Mort for the summer, hoping that a few months of dirty farm work will whip her back into shape.
But Uncle Mort’s true occupation is much dirtier than shoveling manure. He’s a Grim Reaper. And he’s going to teach Lex the family business.
She quickly assimilates into the peculiar world of Croak, a town populated by reapers who deliver souls from this life to the next. But Lex can’t stop her desire for justice – or is it vengeance? – whenever she encounters a murder victim, craving to stop the attackers before they can strike again.
This book was so cool! I love the idea of combining humor and horror together. Especially in such a unique world and this Grim Reaper one. I wish that there had been YA books like this around when I was actually in high school. I would have loved this book as a teenager.
I’m incredibly impressed that the author was able to make a book so funny, and also do a really good job with character development and world building. A lot of times, that winning combination is missing in YA novels, but it’s what makes a book go from “good” to “great.”
“Life’s not fair… Why should death be any different?”
I fell completely in love with the main character, Lex, right from the very first page. She is misunderstood and has anger management problems…but, really, she just hasn’t figured out yet that her true calling is to become a Grim Reaper like her Uncle Mort. She deals with feeling guilty over leaving her twin sister for the summer, having parents that don’t “get” her, and a lot judgment from her new friends and the townspeople she meets in Uncle Mort’s town, Croak.
I loved the idea behind this book — the cullers and the reapers of life actually being humans that all live in this one, small town together. The atmosphere of the town and the people was infectious. All of the characters are very close, and there are definitely a few quirky ones in the bunch who made it even more entertaining. I really liked Lex’s Uncle Mort, and I think that there is a lot more to his story that we will get to learn about in the rest of the series. I also really liked Lex’s friendship with Driggs. The scenes in which they were together were always hilarious, as they are both very witty and sarcastic people.
“What?” Lex snapped. “What did I do?”
“I can’t believe you told her.”
“Oh my god,” she said, rolling her eyes. “This is so high school. I’m gonna go cry in my locker.”
“Forget it. We’ll talk later.”
“Good idea. That’ll give me time to consult my cootie catcher.”
I probably would’ve rated this 5 stars if the ending had been different. I ended up guessing who the murderer was about 3/4ths the way through the book, and I was disappointed that I ended up being right. There were a few other twists — some that I saw coming, some that I didn’t — but I really wish that I hadn’t been able to figure out the big, important one beforehand; I really dislike it when that happens.
But I think that, for a YA novel, the author did a really good job with making the ending hard to figure out, but also completely believable. I’m sure that I wouldn’t have seen it coming as a 16-year-old, because I didn’t have a lot of experience with thriller novels back then. I think that I’m just a more experienced reader now, and sometimes that interferes with reading YA novels, because the intended audience is a few years younger than I am.
“Onion ring?” Zara said, handing her a leftover carton. As everyone knows, the offer of an onion ring is not to be taken lightly. Onion rings are far more valuable than their throwaway side dish counterparts – French fries and potato chips – and, as such, have brought about numerous reconciliations throughout history.
Ultimately, this is an awesome book that I would definitely recommend to any YA reader. Reading this book gave me such joy, and I was totally engrossed in this world of Reaping and Culling that is Croak. I can’t wait to continue on with the series and learn even more about Lex and all of the other characters.
“Don’t worry,” he said. “Time flies when you’re breaching the space-time continuum.”