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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Croak by Gina Damico

Sixteeen-year-old Lex Bartelby has sucker-punched her last classmate. Fed up with her punkish, wild behavior, her parents send her to live with her uncle Mort, hoping that a few months of dirty farm work will whip her 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 world into 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 -- 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? 

This is just a fun book.

It's fun, and funny, and fast-paced and just all around fun to read. I had some issues with it but it was just a fun, easy, relaxing read that I needed -- and it made me laugh aloud a few times, too.

Lex is a wild girl, constantly assaulting and harming people at her school, her parents, and her principal. Every time they give her one more chance, one "last chance", she blows it. Fed up with her, her parents send her away to live with her uncle Mort, who supposedly owns a farm. But he doesn't -- he's a Grim Reaper who lives in the faraway town of Croak. He teaches her the family business of Killing, and Lex becomes a natural. But soon people start to die, and everyone is in danger as they must solve the mystery. Lex is faced with a question -- will she join in? Or will she stand back?

I really loved Lex's character. She was strong and feisty and sarcastic but at the same time was very close to her sister. She didn't annoy me at the beginning, as some reviewers had said, and I liked seeing her personal change. I also liked the arc that Damico gave her, wondering about justice and rights and wrongs and how to understand what justice really was. It's a fascinating arc and I can't wait to see how Damico takes that arc to a new level in the next book.

The rest of the characters were great, too. Driggs was funny and "intriguing" as the blurb states, and the rest of the crazy wild crew of Croak made me laugh. Uncle Mort was also a strong character who put up with nothing and wanted to protect his niece but also let her free.

In regards to the plot, I guessed the murderer right away. And I was correct. But I didn't really care, honestly, because I was enjoying the rest of the book so much. I really did like the climax, though, because it brought Lex's arc -- what is justice -- to a strong, chilling point and really forced her to rethink her beliefs. I liked how the Reaper mythology was woven through, with tales of old legends and murders (even reapers have histories!). I was a bit confused from time to time on how Killing and scything and all that worked, as it was explained quickly and the reader was trusted to understand what happened. I like that sort of trust, and I'm glad that the author felt like she could trust her readers that much, but it still confused me.

The writing was nice, funny and sweet poking through the words. I didn't quite understand why the story was in third person, as we only really were in Lex's head and no other characters', but it worked for the story and Damico is a strong emerging writer.

I honestly really loved this: it was fun, sweet, and entertaining. While not perfect it was definitely a fun ride and I'll look for the next book in September (eek! don't have to wait a year! yay!).

Four stars.

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