Author: Gina Damico
Publisher: Graphia Books
Publication Date: March 20, 2012
Source: personal purchase
Summary from Goodreads:
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?
Yet another great young adult read in preparation for the Rochester Teen Book Festival! So far I have really lucked out with the awesome authors I've been introduced to as I work my way through books for the event.
I saw Croak doing the blog rounds back when I started my little webspace here in 2012. I remember seeing a lot of good reviews, but at the time I wasn't in much of a YA mood, so I skipped it. However, when I saw that Gina Damico was going to be at TBF, I figured it was time to give this book a try. Admittedly, I was a little skeptical at first...this is borderline with the YA paranormal genre, which I have been HIGHLY leery of since Twilight. But I'm happy to report that my reservations were unfounded.
Croak gave me so much to love. First you have Lex, your highly volatile, rude, humorous, and smart protagonist. She has a harder core than most other teenage main characters, which is probably why I liked her so much. Plus, she does have a love interest in this novel, but thankfully it's not all schmoopy-doopy, which I cannot stand in YA books (OMG, Bella and Edward, give me a BREAK).
But the very best thing about Croak is the world-building. Damico has come up with one of the most interesting interpretations of the afterlife that I've ever encountered. It does make me laugh a little--the idea of a tiny town in the Adirondacks where Grim Reapers live, quietly storing the souls of all the dead as unassuming hikers and tourists live around them. But Damico gives it such a clear backstory that it's hard not to find it believable.
The only bummer about this book? I had no idea (until the end) that it's part of a TRILOGY! GAHHHHH. Here I was, expecting a nice wrapped-up ending, and instead I earned myself a cliffhanger and two more books on my TBR list. Ah well. Given how much I liked Croak, I'm definitely going to have to track down Scorch and Rogue (books 2 and 3) ASAP.