Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Croak by Gina Damico - Review

Croak by Gina Damico
Published: March 20, 2012
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

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?

My Review:
Lexington "Lex" Bartleby is getting into a lot of trouble at school for hitting other students. She has turned into the complete opposite of her twin sister, Concord ("Cordy"), and no one understands why her behavior has changed so much. Her parents decide to send her to spend the summer with her Uncle Mort because they think working on a farm will be good for her attitude. But Uncle Mort doesn't really have a farm. He has suggested her parents send her to live with him because he thinks she will make an excellent grim reaper, and he wants her to come to Croak for training. Soon after Lex begins her training, they start finding people who weren't supposed to die, and they soon suspect that another grim reaper is breaking the rules.

You just have to enjoy a book where Edgar Allen Poe provides a big clue for them to solve the mystery during one of their visits to the afterlife. I was pleasantly surprised with how much I liked Croak. Gina Damico has created a fresh spin on grim reapers and the afterlife, and big events come at appropriate intervals to maintain just the right amount of suspense. Lex is a strong female main character, and there was no "instant love" between Lex and her teenage housemate and work partner, Driggs. However, when the love connection did begin to develop, I really wasn't too fond of it or the references to it, such as how they wanted to "make wild, passionate, messy adolescent love under the radiant glow of the full moon."

Thankfully, even though this is the first book in the series, it has an ending for the main plot of this book while still leaving some of the story line open for the next book. Overall, I think Gina Damico has an engaging writing style and has created an intriguing world that I am interested in learning more about in the upcoming books.

A copy was provided by the publisher for review.

About the author:
Gina Damico grew up under four feet of snow in Syracuse, New York. She received a degree in theater and sociology from Boston College, where she was active with the Committee for Creative Enactments, a murder mystery improv comedy troupe that may or may not have sparked her interest in wildly improbably bloodshed. She has since worked as a tour guide, transcriptionist, theater house manager, scenic artist, movie extra, office troll, retail monkey, yarn hawker, and breadmonger. She lives in Boston with her husband, two cats, and a closet full of black hoodies.   

You can find out more about Gina Damico and how to connect with her on her website. 


  1. I read mixed reviews about this novel. I wanted to read it eagerly when I first read the blurb but now I'm afraid to be disappointed. Your great review makes me think that I could like this novel but in the doubt I prefer to wait a little and read the books I already have before. ;)

  2. I saw this book before in an In my Mailbox post, but now I'm positive, I'll have to check it out. Great review ^-^


  3. Boy, I'm just not sure about this one. I really don't care a whole lot for the subject matter so I don't know if this one is for me or not. I'll have to think about it for a while. Thank you for the honest review.

  4. Great review! I completely agree about Edgar Allen Poe. I like the cover too! ~ Jess

  5. Hmm. . My cousin found this at Barnes and Noble on a recent outing and it looked really interesting. I was wanting to read it just because it sounded good, but now I think maybe I should also read it because of the sexual content. She is only 14 afterall. I would want to be able to discuss any overly sexual content with her if needed. Thanks for the review.



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