Book: Croak (Croak, #1) Author: Gina Damico (self-proclaimed curator of terrible art and master of all things pointless) Nominations/Awards: Nominated f...moreBook: Croak (Croak, #1) Author: Gina Damico (self-proclaimed curator of terrible art and master of all things pointless) Nominations/Awards: Nominated for YALSA’s 2013 Teens’ Top Ten Cover Love: Eh. Meh. Neh. 3/10. Cool scythe. Rating: 5/5 Impression: Percy Jackson+City of Bones+Soul Screamers
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Fed up with her wild behaviour, 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.
Will she ditch Croak and go rogue with her reaper skills?
I came across this gem completely by chance when I popped into this used bookstore (Book-Off) that I like to swing by whenever I’m in Honolulu. They have great prices, great books, and play great J-pop music. Now, what caught my eye was the spine-it’s holographic. Holographic. So, like that one klepto kid who just can’t resist snatching the shiny things, I was compelled to pick up Croak. And let me tell you, I was glad I did.
The plot is incredibly original. I’ve read quit a bit of YA, and I haven’t come across anything this original, captivating, or creative in a long time. The premise is interesting enough, promising a book that deals with grim reapers, a niche in YA lit that isn’t yet full to bursting, unlike some other genres I could mention*coughcoughVAMPIRES,WEREWOLVES,ANGELScough.* Sorry. Just had some CONTEMPT stuck in my throat, there. Anyways, back to the plot.
For the first 14 years of her life, Lex has been the quintessential good kid. Perfect grades, great attitude, respectful...you know, the kind of kid who would never dream of going around poking people with a stabby thing. But hey, fate’s a bitch, right? Overnight, Lex turns into an uncontrollable deviant and, long story short, is shipped off to live with her Uncle Mort (haha) over in Hicksville. BUT! Turns out it’s not a town of populated by potato farmers-it’s a ton of soul collectors.
The town of Croak will absolutely charm you, with its warm veneer of being just another hard working town hiding any discrepancies that become apparent upon closer inspection. Like how the residents are perpetually garbed in black. Like how the mayor is…unconventional, to say the least. Like how the “bank” actually harbours a portal to the Afterlife, where Albert Einstein and the presidents reside in all their sassy, immature glory. Croak does contain a (slightly predictable) murder mystery that adds suspense, but the main pull is the novel’s wacky characters.
Our protagonist, Lex, is just delightful. A snarky, intelligent character who can kick some serious ass, she’s all bark and all bite. She takes to Killing like a bookworm to John Green-with excitement, fervor, and pure joy. A truly multifaceted character, it’s interesting to witness her constant struggle to consolidate a strong love for her new reaper lifestyle with an equally strong yearning for her old life. Lex has a remarkable talent for Killing, and with that comes a compulsion to administer her own brand of vigilante justice. Her character is flawed, but her violent, darker side is alleviated by a humorous personality. In my opinion, qualities that make her all the more relatable and likable.
As for the romance, Lex’s partner, Driggs, is everybody’s favorite heterochromic Culler. There’s no insta-love, no hot-cold personality, and no love triangle fuckery. The relationship develops at a realistic pace, giving us a chance to witness their bickering and adorkable awkwardness. Too. Cute.
Overall, though a bit cheesy, Croak is undeniably a good time. A hilarious, well-executed, and surprisingly dark coming-of-age story in which our protagonist embarks on a journey of self-discovery, first love, and finding the place and people she truly belongs with. A spunky book full of laughs and quirky characters, it’s the perfect read for a day when you’re just fed up with all the unoriginality in YA lit.
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