Series: Croak #1
Genre: Paranormal, YA
Publication date: March 20th 2012
by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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?
-This novel was listened to via audiobook-
Murders, Grim Reapers, Scythes! Oh my!
This was the perfect book to listen to on my way back from a 9 hour road trip. Its sarcastic protagonist, charismatic secondary characters, and entertaining plot made the drive feel like 30 minutes. Ok maybe a couple hours. But still.
Lex used to be a perfectly good student, except lately she’s been a bit of a delinquent. This is what gets her shipped to her uncle Mort’s place in a bizarre small town of population 80. This is also where she learns who, or what, she really is: a grim reaper. Grim reaper books have always been a favorite of mine and I loved what Gina did with this one, especially with the constant humorous tone. She’s created a whole reaper world with hierarchies and distinct reaper roles that I found so imaginative. There’s Killing, Culling, the Afterlife, the spiders *shudders*; each aspect of this world building is surprisingly intricate. Some of it is cheesy, I admit, – the presidents in the Afterlife bit especially – but it is amusing which, I believe, is the purpose of this book as a whole. In the midst of all the Killing, there is also someone (or something) murdering Reapers which adds a suspenseful mystery to the story. This part is more predictable than I was hoping, but it did work to put some emotional depth to the novel. When a character dies or gets targeted by this unknown killer, it stings a little! I also liked how Gina dealt with the topic of death; she doesn’t let the dark humor go too far.
The plot is entertaining, the pacing could have been a little faster for my taste, but what really stands out in this book are the characters we meet. Lex’s sarcastic, violent nature will have you chuckle and snort throughout. Though she’s also intelligent as well as thoughtful. She’s the anti-heroine we all love to root for! Uncle Mort will also be a fan favorite with his compelling personality coupled with a badass demeanor. Then Lex has a partner, Driggs; the two, mostly through bickering, develop a quirky relationship that I enjoyed seeing grow and evolve as the book progressed. There’s also a hint of romance, of course, and it’s as sweet as it is awkward – a perfect fit for this book! Really though, each and every citizen in this town adds their own dash of crazy to this story.
A note on the audiobook: the narrator imitated Lex flawlessly. Her voice was perfect for her character. However, I did find her inflections over the top at times. Like, she would sometimes end sentences in an exaggerating manner as you would when reading to a child.
Full of laughter and witty personalities, Croak is the perfect read to brighten a gloomy day!