Monday, November 5, 2012 |
Two things today.  First: When someone refers to a fantasy book’s heroine as grumpy and hilarious, I automatically put it on my ‘must buy’ list.  Second: When books are priced under three dollars in Kindle format, I can’t keep my grabby little hands off them.  This is the tale of how I ended up in possession of an ebook copy of Croak by Gina Damico.  It was listed for $1.99 in August, and leila of bookshelves of doom convinced me to read it.  I’m not sorry, because it was fun.

croak by gina damico book cover
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?

Lex is a sarcastic girl with anger issues and a violent streak in her recent past.  She can’t seem to stop hurting people, even the people she loves – and she doesn’t know why.  Just when it seems like she might self-destruct, her parents make the decision to send her off to visit her Uncle Mort in a remote town upstate.  Little does Lex know that a summer in Croak will change her life…if she can get anyone to explain exactly what is going on (and not sound criminally insane as they do).  The story of her summer in Croak is one of hard work, fun, hilarious shenanigans, a little awkward romance, and MURDER.  Wait, what? Lex and her fellow Reapers are in danger, and it’s up to Lex to figure it out.  With help.  And zany friends.  And maybe Edgar Allen Poe.

As a character, Lex is intelligent, thoughtful, snarky and inexplicably angry and violent.  It’s the violence that starts getting to her and wearing her down – and makes her question her own sanity.  When she ends up in Croak, though, she starts questioning everyone else’s sanity, because this place is full of the crazy… and only sometimes in a good way.  Uncle Mort’s life mission seems to be to explain as little as possible to his niece, and at first it seems like the rest of the town is following suit. 

This was actually my biggest complaint about the book – the reveal is so slow and the main character is kept ignorant for so long that this reader was tempted to give up and/or throw the book across the room (which would have meant dead phone, so i refrained. barely.).  About midway through the story speeds up, things start getting interesting, and the snappy dialogue matches the pacing, and from there on it’s clear sailing.  In the end, it’s a funny, bizarre mystery (with a sweet/awkward romance) that is worth the read if you can deal with a sluggish start.

Recommended for: fans of Geoff Herbach’s Stupid Fast, those who like their YA protagonists quirky, funny and endearing (bonus points if you find grumpy people hilarious), and anyone in the mood for an unusual paranormal fantasy featuring Grim Reapers and a bizarre town packed full with ‘character.’

1 comment:

Kristen said...

Although I don't typically read fantasy, this one does sound appealing.

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