Book Review: Croak by Gina Damico
Fed up with her wild behavior, 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’m sorry I waited so long to read Croak by Gina Damico. So long in fact that the sequel, Scorch, came out last fall. (wince) Talk about dragging my feet! I have only myself and my horrible procrastination to blame. I adore grim reaper characters and the many ways different cultures portray them in myths and also modern popular culture. The character and mythos have moved beyond the grinning skull and long black robe and I find it fascinating when grim reaper or death dealer characters are revamped in today’s media. Croak by Gina Damico is one such novel that overhauls the grim reaper role and turns the protagonist into a relatable and interesting person.
The hardest thing when creating a grim reaper world is the details; the how and the why of the system of reaping souls. Damico creates a great world with Croak and the Grims, those people who fall between the cracks and end up providing an invaluable service to the living. The world of Croak and the mechanics of how the Grims go about reaping souls is wonderful. I mean, come on! There are jellyfish that sense death, black widow spiders that spin soul vessels, and Presidential Greeting Committees who greet the newly dead. What’s not to love? The Junior Grims are the perfect cast of characters and everyone in the town of Croak just adds to the richness of the setting.
I have one disappointment with Croak and that is the ‘bad guy’. For most of the story we don’t know enough details for the conflict to be anything more than a sense of something wrong in the grim world but once we know exactly what is going on I was rather hoping the ‘bad guy’ would surprise me. Going by the overused young adult plot pattern, the identity of the ‘bad guy’ is rather obvious but for a little bit there I was hoping the antagonist would be Lex’s twin, Cordy. Wouldn’t that make sense? Lex and Cordy are twins, what would the odds be that only one of them had grim reaper powers? I was hoping Cordy had somehow found out about the grim world and been manipulated into killing those people or decided to take matters into her own hands without the limitations of those in Croak. Alas, it was not to be and I feel Damico went the path of least resistance on that score.
Croak by Gina Damico was an excellent book with a fresh take on the grim reaper character. It reminds me of a TV show I used to watch all the time called Dead Like Me. I miss that TV show. Croak has the same mix of hilarity and weirdness that made me love that show. There is a bit of eye roll worthy teenage romance in Croak, mostly the fact that Driggs apparently fell in love with Lex through pictures her Uncle Mort had up around the house. I despair of the romance in young adult books, I really do. But Croak has enough creativity and originality that we can overlook that little hiccup.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Posted on February 12, 2013, in book review, books, fiction, paranormal fiction and tagged book review, books, Croak, fiction, Gina Damico, grim reapers, paranormal fiction. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.