Melody's Reviews > Croak

Croak by Gina Damico
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's review
Dec 26, 2012

really liked it
Read in July, 2012

At Polaris, I decided I would pick one book on sale there to support small time authors. Unfortunately, I am not lush with the cash, so I could not support them all. The book I selected was Croak by Gina Damico. I walked up to a table where someone was selling about 5-10 different books. The author wasn't there herself. I got there, saw the title, showed interest and the woman at the counter just about exploded with excitement over how funny and original the story was. Before I knew it, her enthusiasm had sucked my $10 right out of my hand and my book purchase was made. Polaris was too busy and exhausting (in a good way) to allow for much time to read so I didn't get into the book until I got home.

Now, I'd like to extend my own explosive enthusiasm for this book at you and maybe your money will also fly out of your hands and into the author's. Don't worry, you won't regret it. The book is pretty funny and well written. It's a Young Adult book (a genre I'm getting into more and more) and I would place it firmly in the "dark comedy" section. It vaguely reminds me of Dead Like Me with its subject matter and sense of humour.

Croak stars Lex Bartleby; a 16 year old girl who has recently gone off the rails. She is beating up everyone in sight. Her violence is so out of hand that her parents decide to send her to her uncle Mort's farm for the summer. What none of them know is that Mort is a Grim Reaper (here just called Grims) who collects souls. He also requested Lex because her extreme behaviour is a sign that she is destined to share his occupation.

I think what makes the book shine is not just its wittiness, but also the questions it raises. One of the tag lines of the book is "Life isn't fair, why should death be?" The main plot centres on Lex getting her bearings and discovering that there is a Grim reaping souls that shouldn't be reaped. Eventually they determine that the pattern is criminals and child molesters, and generally bad people. Lex must decide whether she's going to work to stop this person or join them. Note: not spoilers - this is part of the book description.

I'd also like to comment on the richness of the universe and the fascinating detail the author gives us about her version of Grims. I would be interested in reading more about her concept of the afterlife.

I really do recommend this book, even if you aren't entirely into YA fiction. Also, happy news - there will be a sequel.

Now Some Spoilers:

There is a slight problem with the ending of the book. For a while there is a debate whether the person hunting down the bad people and killing them is also bad or a hero. Then she does something that completely answers the question definitively one way and that whole moral question is gone. The plot kind of makes the choice for Lex, and I don't like that. Sure, she gets asked and she chooses, but by the time that happens, it is impossible to make any choice but the one she does. It's not enough to ruin the book, but it does make me disappointed. I am looking forward to the sequel!

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