Saturday, December 29, 2012

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?


Kick-butt girl? Check.

A major twist in said girl's life? Check. 

A very cute guy to add cuteness in this story? Check. 

Death and mystery? Check and check. 

Lexington has been acting up for two years. She's described as being a bully, but an equally fair bully. Fat, skinny, jock, nerd, handicapped or not, she punches anyone so you better watch out. Any little thing sets her off and she's learned the routine with the principal's office. Unlike all the trouble kid stories, she actually has a really loving family. Her parents care about her and her twin sister more than anything. Her best friend, and the only person who sticks up for her at school, is her twin sister Cordy. 

Finally, her parents have reached their point and send her off to her elusive Uncle Mort's. She's instantly done with the town of Croak when she arrives. No internet, no cell service, and she doesn't start with good terms with her uncle. Also, there's a Titanic poster in her room. 

But instead of milking cows and other farming duties she thought she would be forced to do, she learns she's a Killer. There's Killers and Cullers, both partners and both a necessity for the dead to reach their Afterlife.  Driggs is her partner and is the culler. AND they carry around personalized scythes! How cool is that? If I got a personalized scythe I would be like this. 

Lex has a hard time at first trying to understand that Grims help the dead. In the Afterlife, people like Edgar Allen Poe, Elvis, and Emily Dickens are having a peaceful, but fun time. 

We meet the Juniors, the majority of the Field workers. Although I liked them, I thought they could be way better. There wasn't much to connect with, even though some of their pasts were revealed. There was little connection for me, which was a disappointment since I felt I could truly love them. 

I also have three other problems with Croak:

1. Lex's mistakes annoyed me. Mistakes make a character. It's how they learn and how they grow. But with her, her mistakes made me want to roll my eyes. She's a blabbermouth, gullible (with certain people), and I couldn't really understand her for a portion of the book which then leads to #2.

2. I don't like bullies. I do love how tough Lex is. She isn't like normal heroines and doesn't take crap from anybody. However, I hate that there's no remorse afterwards for her bullying. I get being a Grim, it's your "destiny" and everyone acts out before they become a Grim. It's a part of the process. But since Lex sounds so mean, I want to go up to every person she's bullied and say sorry on her behalf and explain to them. It wasn't their fault she has low tolerance and likes to punch people. Of course, I have to give her credit for saying she's tried to stop...but still.

3. The Afterlife. I did foresee this one though. Please don't get me wrong. I knew this might have been the only way for this story to be written. The Afterlife was a major point. The Damning was too. But my beliefs, whatever you want to call them, conflicted with those so I struggled more than I thought I would. I wish I could voice my thoughts on this part better, but my brain is a mixed up, tired mess. 

So I'll go on. Driggs is lovable in my eyes, although the "mystery" concerning the picture was obvious to me from the first second it was introduced. There were a few good twists throughout the story, although again, I figured out who was behind it all from Day Numero Uno. 

The ending though? WOW. Just wow. I reread it a couple times, not believing my eyes. "What are you doing to me, Gina Damico? WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" I mentally screamed. I had quite a good chuckle though when my sister read it after me and gave me the deadpanned look of, "Why didn't you warn me?"

But thinking back, I knew it was the best choice. Just like other books (which I cannot name because it would ruin everything), some twists are crucial to a novel. To make things real, you sometimes have to break a few readers' hearts. 

Croak is filled with dark humor. Jokes are surrounded by death and instead of making it depressingly heavy, Ms. Damico turns it around by making it amusing and enjoyable. 

Although I had a few problems with this book, I really did love it. The pros were great in number and I cannot wait for the sequel. 


Brownie points for: Driggs, Uncle Mort, the twists, humor, and the lovely town of Croak 

Mushroom points for: un-connectable minor characters, "duh" moments, and bullying

Word to Parents: cursing, lots of death

**If any of you are slightly confused by "brownie points" and "mushroom points" that is my way of saying "added points" and "subtracted points." Brownies are delicious, mushrooms are not. No matter what my family says, mushrooms will always be mushy, disgusting, and I will only think of the fungi they are. 

What do you think of Croak?

Comment any thoughts below!


  1. Croak definitely sounds really interesting! I love the gifs and I'm glad that you enjoyed it overall. Great review :)

  2. Hmm. Personal scythes do sound REALLY cool. I think I would do that exact face if I had one, LOL. But I understand what you mean about the afterlife conflicting with your religious views. Occasionally I read a book like that, and it usually shocks me pretty bad. But...bullying SUCKS. Fab review, Sunny! (:

    Megan@The Book Babe

    1. Ha! Don't you love gifs to show our feelings? I'm glad you understand! And it does. I can't STAND bullying. Thanks so much, Megan :)