Hylary Locsin's Reviews > Croak

Croak by Gina Damico
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Oct 11, 12

Read in October, 2012

Originally posted on my blog: http://libraryladyhylary.blogspot.com ! Check it out for more reviews!

For the past two years, sixteen-year-old Lexington “Lex” Bartleby has made it her personal mission to punch, bite, scratch or generally injure her classmates. She used to be a straight-A student and have more friends than just her twin sister, Cordy, but for some reason she has been overcome by an inexplicable rage that makes her lash out at everyone, even her loving parents. Fed up with her bad attitude (and potty mouth), her parents decide to send her to live with her Uncle Mort in upstate New York for the summer. Lex is, of course, beyond angry, but soon finds herself on a bus travelling north to the small town of Croak. After she arrives and meets her motorcycle riding, crazy-haired but strangely likable uncle, she soon realizes that Croak isn’t your average farming town. It’s actually home to the eastern seaboard’s population of Grim Reapers, people who travel instantaneously from place to place, extracting the souls from those who have died and transporting them to the afterlife. Uncle Mort informs Lex that her rage is a normal reaction that arises from those who have the natural ability to be Grims, and that she will be spending the summer reaping along with the other Juniors, teenagers who call Croak home. At first, Lex is excited about her new life in Croak. She gets along well with the other Juniors and even likes her partner in reaping, a guy just a few years older than her named Driggs. But not everything is happy-go-lucky in Croak: it seems that a rogue Grim has been travelling under the radar and killing people who weren’t ready to die. When it appears that this murderer is now targeting other Grims, Lex, Driggs and Uncle Mort must find out who it is before it’s too late.

Funny and original, it is difficult for fans of the young adult genre not to instantly fall in love with Croak, the first novel in a witty new series for teens by Gina Damico. From start to finish, Croak is well-written, entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable. One of the most unusual (and ultimately satisfying) parts of the story is that, in the beginning, the reader isn’t compelled to like Lex. She is foul-mouthed, rude, violent, and just plain irritating. She has no reason to be as angry as she is, and, like her parents and sweet twin sister, the reader hopes that Uncle Mort will (literally) knock some sense into her. After she arrives in Croak, however, and begins working as a Grim, she begins to transform into someone readers can root for. This transformation isn’t forced, but is one of the best parts of the story. In addition to this, there are loads of other things readers will love about Croak. The town itself is interesting, with all of the shops having morbid names and equally morbid owners. The mechanics of the Grim system of collecting and transporting souls from those who have died is also very original and not confusing, something that often happens when novels for teens get a bit too scientific in their descriptions of how paranormal things actually work. Supporting characters like Lex’s lovable Uncle Mort, her wise-cracking partner, Driggs, and her other new friends in Croak add a great deal to the story as well. Overall, a fast-paced and fun start to a series that is easy to recommend to both teen and adult readers alike. The sequel, Scorch, was released in September 2012.

It’s been awhile since I’ve picked up a book that I loved as much as Croak from start to finish. Gina Damico’s writing style really resonated with me because she is able to accomplish a lot without being cliché, melodramatic, or attempting to manipulate the reader into feeling a certain way. She simple wrote a good, entertaining and original story with a solid plot and likable characters: a definite recipe for success! Even though I didn’t like her at first, I am now a huge Lex fan and can’t wait to see what happens in the sequel, Scorch. I highly recommend this book to teens, adults, or anyone who simply wants something that is breezily paced and enjoyable.
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