First, I wanted to congratulate the winners of my last two giveaways! The winner of the Clear Your Shelf Giveaway Hop on Nori’s Closet was: Heather. And the winner of my 200 Followers Giveaway was: Lyan. Congrats Heather and Lyan! Your books are on their way!
On to my review, I bought Croak shortly after it came out because I somehow magically missed it on Net Galley, and I read some fantastic reviews from some of my favorite bloggers for it. Also, I seriously love all grim reaper tales. I became fascinated with them after the Showtime show, “Dead like Me,” which was super amazing, but then just ended super quickly.
I soon learned this book then dealt with special powers, twins, a kick-butt main girl character, upstate New York (where I went to college!), and so many just plain awesome things that I knew it would be hard for me not to like it. I don’t think it has the most appealing cover, and the more I read the book, the more the cover made sense, but still…It’s not a cover that will draw you in immediately at the book store, which is sad because I really feel like this book should get more attention that it does.
It’s about Lex, a girl famous in her school for being sent to the principle’s office, or I guess even more famous for hitting people. She’s gotten into a lot of fights at school, is disrespectful to just about everyone, and for some reason she just doesn’t know why. She used to be normal, and then one day she just cracked and broke away from everything that was normal to wear black hoodies, beat people up, and sarcastically comment on everything. And this is different. Normally a person who’s not crazy, can at least guess as to why they act the way they do. And if they don’t, they can lie to themselves or make excuses for why they do certain things. Lex has no clue and never really lies to herself, or even makes excuses for herself. She just acts awful, and well plain doesn’t know why.
Her twin sister and her mother and father love her to pieces, and really try to help her, but it’s decided in the beginning of the book that Lex needs to spend the summer with her Uncle Mort, in upstate New York, where hopefully a more rural lifestyle can work to turn her around. Lex hates this plan. And so does her twin. While her twin gets that something is wrong with Lex, she’s also the only one who doesn’t seem to be so bothered by her.
When Lex get to her uncle’s it soon becomes painstakingly clear that Croak is no ordinary town; it’s actually run completely by reapers. At first, Lex thinks her uncle is crazy, but then she comes to love the guy. She loves learning that there is a reason for her sudden change in attitude. And she comes to realize that she’s really good at reaping, better than almost everyone. She also makes a lot of friends in Croak and fits in with other teens who all do what she does. The only difference is all the other teens don’t have loving families. Croak is sort of their rescue and Lex stands out a little because she has a family who expects her to return to them after summer ends.
Also living with her uncle, is the adorable Driggs. Driggs is her partner. In reaper teams, there’s the killer and there’s the culler. The killer touches an already dead body and releases its soul. Cullers collect the souls and bring them back to Croak or other reaper towns where they are then released into the afterlife. Lex is so clearly the killer. The only issue is that Lex feels pain with each kill and no other reaper does. She also has a strong urge to go after the bad people she sees on her missions to release souls. Why should she let murders get away? She also seems to be more talented than anyone else. She’s stronger and she soon realizes she can also set things on fire…
With special reaper abilities that no one else seems to have, the important job of releasing souls, a cute reaping partner, drinking, new friendships, jellyfish, giant spiders, family drama, and then all of the action packed mystery of a reaper serial killer, Lex’s summer is anything but boring.
I loved the strangeness/quirkiness of this book. Damico has such a unique voice. The writing style of this book reminded me a lot of the writing style of the movie “Juno.” The humor and sarcasm are unique. The strange inventions, jellyfish, crazy dead people in the afterlife, and all of the weird fun stuff used to build such a different world, were amazing! The town was kind of like Stars Hollow in Gilmore Girls, but with a dark, supernatural twist. And really, I don’t think I could compliment the town of Croak any more. Everything from the small characters like bartenders to the drinks with magical qualities to them, to the scythes was just so creative and so well planned out.
I’m not going to lie though; it took me a little while to get used to what I’m calling the book’s quirkiness. At first I wasn’t sure I liked it. It originally kind of felt like the author was trying too hard to sound different. But eventually, I just got so caught up in the story that I can’t imagine the author having any other voice. I put a post-it on this scene:
“Well,” their mother said after a moment, “I think that’s wonderful. You seem to be doing marvelously, you haven’t gotten into any trouble, and you made friends with a chicken!” She beamed at her daughter. “What a wonderful opportunity you’ve had, Lex”(223).
And I guess out of context that might be a weird passage to highlight, but it was just timed so perfectly. I could just imagine in her mother’s high-pitched, over-the-top enthusiasm for something her daughter completely just made up on the spot.
I give this one a 10/10. It was just so creative. The writing was excellent. The characters were amazing. I’m looking forward to book 2.