Friday, April 6, 2012

Review "Croak" by Gina Damico

Croak (Croak #1)
Publication Date: March 20, 2012
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

     Lexington Bartleby is a sixteen year old with major anger issues and being sent to the principals office is nothing new to her. When her parents get fed up with her behavior they decide to send her to her Uncle Mort's farm in Croak. But as Lex comes to realize Uncle Mort is not at all what she thought. He is a reaper and intends to show Lex the ins and outs of the business. What Lex finds in Croak is a world she never could have imagined. But not everyone is who they seem and there is a danger that threatens to take down the reapers.

     Gina Damico has created an exciting world that I found different from any other I have experienced so far. The town of Croak seems like your typical small town except for the fact that all the shops have death inspired names such as Pushing Daisies (flower shop), Bought the Farm (grocery store), and The Morgue (diner). Everything in Croak is centered around what its occupants do. Let me just say that I was greatly surprised to see how jelly fish were used in this book, very original. They play a vital role in what the killers(reapers)/ cullers( collects souls) do. Tourists are not welcome in this town and there are rules for dealing with them. "Three simple rules for getting rid of tourists, Lex: Lie, deny, and bleed' em dry". (pg 48) 

     The characters in Croak are quirky and funny partly because of what they do and also because of how they grew up. Lex is not your typical teenage delinquent. She is unable to control the anger that burns just beneath the surface, always there, always waiting to come out.  She has an active imagination and comes up with the funniest scenarios. She is thrown into her summer job without a lot of explanation, she's expected to learn as she goes. I found myself loving anytime Lex was speaking or thinking her crazy thoughts, which was most of the time. She is one of my favorite characters: she's funny, sarcastic, as well as smart. Lex's Uncle Mort is not at all what I expected especially compared to the rest of her family. I had to add this quote from the first time we meet Uncle Mort. "Sitting atop a black and purple--streaked motorcycle was, in a startling number of details, the erxact type of villian depicted in the Never Talk to Strangers! picture book that had been drilled into Lex as a child: a man six feet tall, in his late thirties, lean but strong, roguishly attractive...And topping it all off was the choatic mess of hair on his head. Blacker even than Lex's, and streaked with purple just like the bike, it stuck out in windblown, tousled spikes, as if he had stuck his finger into a charged socket only seconds before." (pg 20) Yeah not someone I would want to meet in a dark alley but he proves to be good for Lex. Then there is Lex's new roommate Driggs. He has a fondness for anything chocolate, in particular Oreo's. Driggs is a good match for Lex, he's able to keep her in line while on the job as well as teach her what she needs to know to be a reaper. He isn't bothered by her temper, which annoys Lex to no end but I think Driggs loves annoying her so it works out. There are several other teenage killers/cullers in Croak also known as Juniors. They spend a lot of time together and never really leave town so they tend to get bored. One of the ways they have for curing their boredom is by having game night. They created the funniest mash-up of games, with no real rules, everyone just makes it up as the game progresses. "Lex herself built a Jenga tower on Boardwalk, sank Driggs's destroyer with a double word score, and captured a bishop in the Peppermint Forest with Mrs. Peacock."(pg 193) That would be one difficult game to understand never mind trying to win. But it serves its purpose of keeping the Juniors entertained.

     The detailed descriptions in Croak allowed me to picture the places and people Lex encountered. There were also so many funny passages throughout this novel that I constantly found myself smiling or laughing outright. But there is a serious aspect of this book, it's not all fun and made up games. There is something amiss in the reapers world and solving the mystery is the only way for those in the town to be safe.Once I picked this book up and started reading I did not want to put it down. Croak was a fun, fast paced read that had me wishing  for more Lex and co. I'm definitely looking forward to reading Scorched, book two in this series.

     I think the cover of Croak is okay but I wish it stood out a little more and screamed pick me up because there is a great, funny story inside. I do like how Lex  has a scythe, the trademark item for reapers as well as the reaper uniform, a black hoodie. I just think it's a little too plain, at least for my tastes.

All quotes taken from ARC of Croak.


  1. Wahhhh!!! I've been looking forward to this one for AGES, and seeing your review just made me rabid about getting my own copy. Dang, when, when will it arrive?!?

    Thanks for sharing, Nicole!

    1. I had it forever and I feel like a complete dork for waiting for so long to read it.
      Hope your book gets there soon, I hate waiting for books to arrive!