Aaron's Reviews > Croak

Croak by Gina Damico
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Jan 21, 13

really liked it
Read in January, 2013

Lex and her twin sister Cordy Bartleby seem to have the best of lives. They have loving parents and a stable home. Both do well in school and are surrounded by friends. That is what makes the drastic chnges that start to come about in Lex so much stranger. Her grades plummet. She becomes a loner, and she has no trouble picking fights ... the kind that even include punches. As a result, the decision is made to send her to live with her Uncle Mort at his form in Croak in upstate New York. The hope is that she will work out all her troubles.

The result is not far off the mark, but the work has nothing to do with farm work. Lex finds herself in a tiny town, where the local economy is totally dependent upon the task of segueing people who have died into the Afterlife. Teams of two Grims go around to release the soul from the dead body and transport them to a portal that will allow them to spend the rest of time in whatever world they wish.

Lex would seem to have an amazing talent for the job, even though she is younger than the usual Junior (or trainee) brought to the task. She does exhibit the rebellious nature that is common. Most of the other Juniors are from severely broken homes. They are scarred, both emotionally and physically. There new home in Croak and their tasks give them a new sense of life and happiness.

All seams to be going well until the teams start coming across bizarre deaths that don't seem to have a cause. The only sign is eyes that are pure white. The Juniors decide that they are going to try and solve the problem even as the serial killer seems to be copying another Grim from the past.

Lex is definitely a bit of an outside both due to the fact that she is a newcomer and her Uncle Mort is mayor of the town, which puts him in charge of the Grimery. To make matters even worse, everyone has noticed how talented she truly is, and that leads them to start to consider that she might be at the core of the mysterious deaths. Fear not ... she has her friends among the Juniors, particularly her Uncle Mort's ward Driggs.

While it is a mystery, it is filled with black humor and relationship issues for the various teens in Croak. The humor is a bit on the campy side and has no shortage of groaners, which makes it perfect for me! In some ways, the world building reminds me a bit of J.K. Rowlling's in the creativity of themed names and twists on everyday items. Since the Grims are attending scenes of death, both natural and otherwise, there are numerous reference to odd means of death that reminded me a lot of the opening sequences of Six Feet Under.
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