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?
**ARC copy courtesy of DAC Arc Tours…THANK YOU!**
First thing first – I usually don’t comment on book covers because unless it’s really awesome or truly egregious I don’t really put much stock in them or even particularly notice them. That said, I really liked the cover of this book. It’s a cool reflective silver that’s really pretty, and the girl on the cover looks quite a lot like what you’d expect Lex to look like instead of some super pretty fancy model in a super pretty fancy dress.
Second thing second – the history nerd in me (history majors huzzah!) looooves that Lex and her twin sister are named Lexington and Concord. Kind of hideous in actuality, extremely cool in execution. YES.
So anyway, I was dying to read Croak because I love Reapers. LOVE. I loved the short-lived tv show called Reaper where that teenage kid had to work for the devil (who looked distressingly like a used car salesman) because his parents sold him out before he was born. I love the creepy ass old dude reapers who make my flesh crawl on Supernatural. And I especially loved the tv show Dead Like Me, where misanthropic George is crushed by a flaming toilet seat that falls off the space station MIR and subsequently ends up reaping souls in the employ of Mandy Patinkin, also known as that guy who played Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride. But yeah, I love Reapers. Which, of course, made me instantly curious about this book.
Lex starts off as a difficult – if not impossible – character to like. She’s kind of an asshole, to be quite frank, and nobody can figure why. She used to be a super nice girl and her sister is still a super nice girl. She has a decent family. She has no reason to be acting out, starting fights, and beating the crap out of her classmates, often male classmates and often more than one at a time. So when she’s “claimed” by her Uncle Mort to go and live with him in the small town of Croak for the Summer, she initially reacts poorly. Until she gets there, and finds the answers to all of her issues. And she finds some romance, which was well done and THANK YOU BABY JESUS NOT A LOVE TRIANGLE.
Lex does a LOT of growing as a character as the book goes on. She finally finds something that she’s really good at, and with an outlet for her aggression she learns to play nice with others. But still, she was not my favorite character. Let’s talk about Uncle Mort. Oh, Uncle Mort. Such an awesome, awesome guy and certainly not the fuddy duddy old uncle you’d expect when you think “reaper.” Nay. Try young, cool, motorcycle riding uncle.
Croak itself is so cool that it’s basically a character in its own right. So much thought must have gone into the creation of this town, for real. I may be totally corny, but I loved how every place in town had a name that pertained to death in some way. So punny. And the book even had a little map at the front, which I may or may not have referenced several times.
That said, as lighthearted as the book is overall it still has plenty of tension. Not everybody gets along and not everybody is satisfied with that status quo among the reapers – which is do your job and don’t interfere. Nobody understands this more than Lex herself, who finds the rules outrageous. And there is one particular event that takes place that is just a complete soul crusher to the point where you can’t believe it actually happened. I kept waiting for Damico to take it back and make it a dream, or have someone find a way to reverse it, or something. But no! Total shocker. And it makes me die for the next book, which can’t come soon enough. As much as I was looking forward to reading this one I didn’t anticipate just how much I was going to enjoy it. Totally recommended for fans of reapers and reaper noobs alike.