Title: Croak by Gina Damico
Published: March 20th, 2012 by Houghton Miffin Hartcourt
Challenge(s): Debut Author, Support Local Library
Grade rate: A
Sixteen-year-old Lex Bartleby has sucker-punched her last classmate. Fed up with her punkish, wild behavior, her 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 that of 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, craving to stop the 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?
Amazing! Croak was SO awesome. Do you want to know how awesome? Let me count the ways:
Great characters: Lex is hilarious, pragmatic, confident (most of the time), brave and loyal. I fell instantly in love with Driggs, he was also funny, handsome, and loyal. All the ‘juniors’, Lex’s family, especially uncle Mort; and all the people of Croak are amazing! These characters become alive within the pages of the book.
Great story: The story is so original and unlike anything I’ve read before. The plot is wonderful, including enough background information that you understand what is going on and with many twists and turns, although I have to confess that I had my suspicions on who the ‘bad guy’ was. Yes, the story is a little creepy, but just enough to keep it interesting.
Great writing: Ms. Damico is hilarious! She writes an amazing story that is performed by amazing characters. The pace of the story was great too, with enough action to keep me on the edge of my seat.
The ending was a big surprise to me and somewhat painful to read, but that is just a testament to the great writing. I cannot wait for Scorch, the sequel, due to be published in September of this year.
About the cover: I have to say that if I didn’t read the synopsis of Croak, I would have never picked it up. Even hubby and ‘A’were a bit surprised when they saw me reading it. The cover is silver metallic (reflective even) and is just bizarre and creepy (and Lex looks like a guy too!)