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Monday, November 12, 2012

NICOLE'S REVIEW: Croak by Gina Damico

Title: Croak
Author: Gina Damico
Format Acquired: Paperback
Publication Date: March 20 2012
Publishing House: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
ISBN: 9780547608327
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Lex Bartleby has sucker-punched her last classmate. Fed up with her punkish, wild behavior, her parents ship 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 her the family business.

Lex quickly assimilates into the peculiar world of Croak, a town populated entirely by reapers who deliver souls from this life to the next. Along with her infuriating yet intriguing partner, Driggs, and a rockstar crew of fellow Grim apprentices, Lex is soon zapping her targets like a natural born Killer.

Yet her innate ability morphs into an unchecked desire for justice - or is it vengeance? - whenever she's forced to Kill a murder victim, yearning to stop attackers before they can strike again. So when people start to die - that is, people who aren't supposed to be dying, people who have committed grievous crimes against the innocent - Lex's curiosity is piqued. Her obsession grows as the bodies pile up, and a troubling question begins to swirl through her mind: if she succeeds in tracking down the murderer, will she stop the carnage - or will she ditch Croak and join in?

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)

I picked this book up based on the interesting summary alone. I mean, having an uncle who's a Grim Reaper and finding out you're one too? Mystery deaths and unknown killers? Scythes?! This sounded way too fun to pass up, and I was right. 

The story is told in Lex's point of view, she's a pretty humorous and witty girl, despite being self-destructive, violent, and impertinent - an anti-heroine in every sense of the word. She's gotten into numerous fights and, since her parents are unable to take any more drama, is shipped off to spend the summer with her uncle, Mort. Little does she know that she's in for a big surprise. She's a Grim like her uncle and she finds that her abilities surpass those of her peers with the addition of a few other powers; there's news of strange deaths which Lex isn't sure she doesn't agree with and if that's not all, when she finally realizes who the murderer is her whole life gets upended and she's faced with heartbreak and betrayal. 

The world-building in this story is intricate and well thought of. Damico manages to explain how the Grims' world works in a totally believable fashion; how they Kill and Cull, where souls go and how they're able to predict death; even the way the Afterlife was portrayed was really interesting. I loved the complexity of the world the author has managed to build and the way she introduces it to to readers through Lex's eyes, not to mention the numerous scenes that'll have you laughing despite all that talk about death.

Croak also has a fun bunch of characters, there's Lex's uncle, Mort. Mort is Croak's mayor and is a really charismatic character. I couldn't help but love him - he's so badass. He's got secrets and hints of a painful past that I wouldn't mind learning more about; it adds to his charm I suppose. Then there's Driggs, Lex's partner, he's adorable and droll and charming and I loved the way he interacted with Lex, they're undeniably cute together. There are a lot more characters who play a vital role in the story and you'll meet them along the way. Lex's friends, the citizens of Croak and all the crazy that comes when you spend a lot of time in a town dealing with death. There will be certain points where things get a tad bit predictable but the story manages to incorporate a few twists that manage to take you by surprise.

Croak is a great book - it's got humor, mystery and witty dialogue; grim reapers who are charming and sarcastic and wield personalized scythes; and absolutely, amazingly intricate world building. You cannot miss out on this one and if you haven't grabbed a copy yet, you most probably should, along with a copy of the second installment Scorch. Death has never seemed so much fun.