Summary: 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?
When I first heard about Croak I instantly wanted to read it. I don’t know what it is about reaper stories – although it probably stems from my love of ghost stories – but I love reading about them. What I didn’t expect, however, was to find Croak so immensely hilarious. Already from the very first page I was giggling inwardly and as the book continued, I found myself laughing out loud and just truly kept myself entertained. While I understood that I would like this book simply for its reaper story, I never imagined I would have loved it quite this much but Croak simply found a way into my heart and it is there that it will now stay. Needless to say I am incredibly excited to read the sequel!
Lex is a teenager who used to be sweet, innocent and lovely but then suddenly she was angry. She didn’t understand her own anger but found herself lashing out at everyone who cared about her anyway. Finally fed-up with her behaviour, her parents ship her off to live with her Uncle. Who knew that the world she would learn about there would not only explain her anger but shape her into an entirely different person? I fell in love with the plot of this story. I was turning the page quickly, gushing at moments, gasping at others, but all the while I was sucked in by the mystery of it and the need that Lex had to know all the answers. I wanted to help her, to push her in the right direction and I wanted everyone to listen to her. There was so much going on in this story that it was incredibly difficult not to enjoy it, to the point that by the end I had tears strolling down my cheeks and I was begging for more.
If there was one thing that helped to keep this novel grounded, it was the characters that were brilliantly written, therefore feeling very realistic. You could imagine Lex as someone you knew, or in my case, I witnessed parts of her personality as my own. Aside from being well-written, these characters were also likable, entertaining and just helped to bring the rest of the story alive. Lex, our main protagonist, was my favourite character. She had a high moral compass, got overwhelmed easily, was stubborn and yet she also really did try to follow the rules. She was fascinated with all the new ideas thrown upon her and ended up taken her new life in her stride. On top of all of that, she was also fiercly protective, not just of her loved ones but of everyone she met and that just made her a rather interesting character to read about.
Uncle Morty was my second favourite character in this novel. He had such a character that made me chuckle while he also managed to command an entire room’s attention. He had an anger – naturally, and he was a brilliant leader but really, a pretty cool uncle as well. I just loved reading about him when he turned up in the story and my only wish was that Lex trusted him a little more. Finally we have Driggs. He was a great character and the dynamic relationship between him and Lex was really interesting to read about. In a way, they completed each other – even if they would not admit it to each other! – and it just worked so well with everything else going on. There were a few times I wanted to hug Driggs, and other times when I just wanted to punch him – haha.
If Only She
There is so much more that I can say about this novel but I feel like I would probably end up ranting and raving about it for too long if I tell you ALL about it. But I will say that one of the things that really kept me riveted was the setting of the story. The creativeness behind the little village her uncle lives in to the jellyfish that tells the reapers where the near dying are (it’s more complex and interesting then it sounds, I promise!), just really brought this story a unique and intriguing setting that I loved reading about. I feel that this setting was written beautifully by a talented author who has managed to write a world that you can see clearly in your mind’s eye. There was never too much description but there was always just enough with a little space for you to fill in the last few gaps. It really managed to bring the story alive for me.
Overall this was a novel that really grabbed me and one that I really truly loved. While I mentioned it was funny, it must also be noted that this book does have a serious undertone within it as well. There are moral issues that are questioned, as well as an evil that is travelling through the world trying to ruin all the hard work that all the reapers do. It really has everything that you could ever want from a novel and I have to give props to Gina Damico for managing to write a really compelling, interesting and creative novel. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to read YA novels that will not only make them laugh but also pack an emotional punch. It is an exhilarating read that you really shouldn’t miss out on reading.