A Review of Croak, by Gina Damico

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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?

– – – – –

Rating: 3/5 Stars
Quick Reasons: funky timing in some places; sort of slow plot/action; quasi “mystery”; predictable/obvious plot twists; interesting, complex but also annoying (???) characters

I decided to listen to this one on audiobook (because why not).

“The list of scars my students have sustained at the hand of your daughter grows longer each week. Poor Logan Hochspring’s arm will forever carry an imprint of her dental records!”

“You bit him?” Lex’s father said.

“He called me a wannabe vampire. What was I supposed to do?”

“Oh, I don’t know–maybe not bite him?”

So, first things first—the level of sheer snark in this book was awesome. The characters (particularly Lex and Driggs) have witty banter and sassy comebacks down to a SCIENCE, and it was both entertaining and oftentimes laugh-out-loud funny hearing them interact and react to each other/the world. The dialogue is well-written, realistic, and entirely believable (in my opinion) and hearing it as opposed to reading it brought it to a completely different level in my book.

I liked the IDEA of this read. Death has, in recent years, been a character I’m intrigued by and obsessed with (Terry Pratchett’s version is my favorite so far, if I’m being honest, though I’ve read a good many other books with Death as a character or a generalized theme). I was excited, going into this read, for that theme specifically: the play on words (Uncle MORT, the town called CROAK, etc.) piqued my interest and drew me in even quicker. But somehow, the book still fell a bit flat for me.

“I wouldn’t go around telling people about these shocks of yours.”

“Why not?” Lex asked.

“It’s like announcing to the would you have crabs. It’s embarrassing, and no one’ll ever shake your hand again.”

Despite liking the characters, I found some of their obsessions to border a BIT on the annoying side. (I mean really, Lex, how creepy is it for you to want to kill people who are killing people?! That doesn’t spell good news at ALL?!?!?!) Their focuses seemed a bit…one dimensional, most of the time. And some of their reactions to situations, other people, or themselves fell flat overall.

There was also a case of “funky timing 101” going on. At the beginning of the book, when Lex calls home, the dialogue takes about five seconds…but we’re told it actually lasted something like TORTUROUS painful minutes? So what did Lex do in all that time, space out? Sing pop songs silently to herself? Try to build floppy toast castles? Why couldn’t we be in the moment with her, by hearing the supposedly painful dialogue as it happened? Why couldn’t we see her actually react TO her family, instead of it being skipped over? Things like this made the timing awkward and almost hard to follow.

Then something happened in the next two seconds, but neither Lex nor Driggs would be able to recall exactly what. All they knew was that after it was over, their eyes met once again, this time in horror.

“Why did you just kiss my ear?” Lex asked nervously.

Driggs winced. “Because you turned your head.”

“I thought that tree . . . moved.”

“Oh.”

Another moment of silence.

Driggs bit his lip. “Do you mind if I try again?”

She swallowed. “Okay.”

Then something else happened, and this time both Lex and Driggs would remember exactly what it was.

Of course, I had a major case of the zone-outs and feel I probably missed some MAJOR important plot things… I’m not sure if this is due to my uninterest in this story, or to the audiobook’s narrator. Regardless, I MIGHT have to go back and actually read the book sometime in the future to see if that helps change my opinions on things. I’d still recommend to lovers of snarky characters, interesting world-building, and Reapers!

2 thoughts on “A Review of Croak, by Gina Damico

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