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?
About the Author
Gina Damico is the author of Hellhole, Wax, and the grim-reapers-gone-wild books of the Croak trilogy. She has also dabbled as a tour guide, transcriptionist, theater house manager, scenic artist, movie extra, office troll, retail monkey, yarn hawker and breadmonger. A native of Syracuse, New York, she now lives in Los Angeles with her husband, two cats, one dog, and an obscene amount of weird things purchased from yard sales. Visit her website at www.ginadami.co.
Read an Excerpt
"I gotta be honest, Lex," Uncle Mort said as they continued down the hill into town, slowing the bike so they could speak without yelling. "You look just about ready to soil yourself."
Lex shot him a glare, then eyed a sign at the side of the road that read Croak! Population: 78. The number clicked over to 80 as they passed.
She scrunched up her nose. "That was weird."
Lex gazed at the handful of small buildings as they passed by. "I don’t get it. Where’s the town?" she asked, searching into the distance.
"You’re in it."
"This is it?"
"It is small," Uncle Mort agreed. "But it’s got heart."
Lex assumed he meant this literally as well as figuratively, since both sides of the street were lined with blooms of brilliantly red bleeding-heart flowers. As she gawked at the short buildings, she got the eeriest feeling that she had stumbled into a historical theme park. The storefronts just seemed so old-fashioned, like they were part of some bygone era of yore, or maybe even yesteryear. She had only ever seen places like this on the evening news during election years, when politicians invaded to kiss babies and purchase homemade pies from smiling, toothless bakery owners.
"Please tell me you have running water," she said.
"Of course. Tuesdays and Thursdays."
She couldn’t tell if he was being sarcastic.
"Don’t worry," he said. "Croak’s a pretty modern place. Up there are the Pine Condos, where some of the younger people live, and a few good shops on the right down Slain Lane." He pointed to a side street paved with cobblestones, unlike the smooth pavement of the one they were on. Lex craned her neck and spotted a handful of oddly named stores: a flower shop called Pushing Daisies, a mattress place labeled The Big Sleep, and a grocery store with a giant sign reading Bought the Farm.
At the junction of the two roads, a gravestonelike obelisk rose out of a small fountain. Uncle Mort nodded to the left. "Best diner in the universe right there. Hello, Dora!" he called to the ancient woman sweeping the sidewalk outside. She waved cheerily.
"And the library’s up on the left—oh, but check this out, our pride and joy," he said with reverence, looking straight ahead. At a fork in the road stood the tallest building in town, clocking in at a whopping two stories. The Victorian house was painted a sunny yellow, with friendly letters spelling out the word Bank across the façade. The wooden front porch contained a hammock, a small table, and, naturally, a pitcher of lemonade. "We take our investments very seriously."
Lex struggled to take it all in. She had never seen a bank that looked as though it could double as a summer home. Nor could she conceive of a place that didn’t seem to have a single traffic light. And the quaint, nostalgic street sign labeled Dead End rather than Main Street only confirmed her suspicions that the town had surely lost its quaint, nostalgic marbles.
Then, just like that, it was behind them.
The bike veered onto the fork to the left of the Bank and passed a large field on the right. Across that, a dozen or so houses stretched down the other fork, looking like any other suburb in America.
Lex squirmed in her seat. "Are you kidding me? That was not a town," she said. "I mean, where’s the Starbucks?"
Uncle Mort sighed. "Lex, I know you’re from New York, so I’m going to forgive you for that. But let me tell you something right now, something that I don’t want you ever to forget: Starbucks is an abomination."
Lex was speechless, for she now believed there was no way in a million years this man could possibly be a blood relative.
"And here are my digs," he said as the bike slowed. "What do you think?"
Lex no longer knew what to think. The house was practically a larger version of Uncle Mort himself—loud, schizophrenic, and potentially fatal. Speckled with all manner of colors in no apparent pattern, it looked as if it had rolled around the countryside picking up random items and whatnots before finally coming to a halt at the top of its grassy hill.
Lex ogled the bizarre devices poking out of each window as the bike rolled to a stop. She took off her helmet and dropped it to the ground. "You really live here?" she asked, her voice tinged with the faintest trace of warmth. This house, in all its chaotic glory, reminded her of her bedroom back home.
Uncle Mort dismounted the bike. "Yep. And now, so do you." He handed her a set of keys. "Your room is the first door on the left."
Lex, who from the moment of her conception had never had a room of her own, snatched the keys out of his hand and tore into the house. If she really was going to be stuck here for the duration of the summer, she might as well become accustomed to the living quarters in which she would undoubtedly be holing herself up. And at least this was an actual house with actual walls and not a crusty, fetid hayloft, as she had feared. It almost seemed—she hardly dared to think it—kind of cool.
She burst into the front hallway. Unsurprisingly, the kitchen was a mess, and the living room was buried under piles of unidentifiable paraphernalia. Useless junk clogged each pore. Empty photograph frames collected dust at every turn, while a large tank of jellyfish stretched across an entire wall, like a live mural. The luggage Lex’s mother had sent sat at the edge of it all, blending in perfectly. Lex grinned, her sense of alienation abating. This was exactly the way she and Cordy had always preferred to live: in utter squalor and disarray.
Tingling with anticipation, Lex ran down the hall to her room and flung open the door.
Her face fell.
No bedlam. No eyesores. And not a single useless trinket.
Instead, a beautifully carved armoire stood gracefully in the corner. Next to it, a desk made from spotless white oak. Pink bedding, curtains, and rugs, as if a flamingo had exploded. And worst of all, looming on the wall across from the frilly, perfectly made bed: a Titanic movie poster.
Lex shrieked in horror and slammed the door. "What was that?"
"What’s wrong?" Uncle Mort asked as he entered the house. "You don’t like it?"
"I hate it! Were those doilies?!"
"Dammit." He sighed. "I thought I could trust him with this."
Lex glanced at the slightly open door across from hers, on which was tacked a poster of The Who. She peeked through the crack, but all she could see was a massive set of drums. Next to that, another door was wide open and spewing a heavy stream of smoke. She squinted down a set of stairs at several bubbling vials of goo.
"Your basement’s on fire."
"Oh, that’s just my lab," Uncle Mort calmly replied, closing the door and fanning the sulfuric fumes away. "I like to tinker."
"I see." Lex strayed back into the living room and looked around, confused. "Where’s the TV?"
"I don’t have one."
"WHAT?" she yelled. "WHAT?"
"After a few days you won’t even care. And don’t worry about your room; it’ll all be fixed by the time we get back."
"Get back? Where are we going?"
"Out. Can’t very well have the redecorators come in while you’re still here, can we? Besides, we have to talk."
"Yeah, right." She let out a huff, walked into the kitchen, and sat down, throwing her muddy feet up onto the table. "You almost killed me about twelve times in the past hour. I’m not going anywhere with you."
"Ah, but you are."
And with a lightning-quick swoop of his arm, Uncle Mort grabbed his niece by the waist yet again, flung her over his shoulder, and walked out the door.
As she was lugged upside down through the empty streets of Croak, Lex thrashed with a ferocity that would have impressed even the most seasoned probation officer. Yet Uncle Mort seemed not to notice, and before long, Lex’s protests were reduced to nothing more than an occasional groan.
"Almost forgot—I promised your family we’d call when you got here," he said cheerfully as they passed into the other end of town, his shoulder digging into her stomach more and more with every step.
Lex, now fairly nauseated, jammed her elbow into his lower back and propped up her addled head onto her hand. "Here’s an idea," she said weakly. "You put me down, I’ll use my cell."
"No reception for miles. Hence, the Cuff," he said, indicating the strange band around his wrist.
"Fascinating. Put me down."
Uncle Mort ignored her. "Gotta make a personal call first." He did something to the Cuff—it turned staticky again and stayed that way—then began to quietly scold it. Lex thought she heard him utter a few key phrases like "it’s a bedroom, not a Victoria’s Secret," but by now she was teetering too closely to the brink of unconsciousness to even guess what was going on.
"I am about two seconds away from vomiting all over every inch of you," she told her uncle in a slurred voice as he hung up.
"And me without a poncho. Pity."
She riskily let out a small burp. "Oh God. Put me down. Please?"
"Was that a magic word I just heard? Did an ounce of politeness just escape the mouth of Lexington Bartleby? I think it did!" And with a surprising gentleness, he lowered his queasy passenger to her feet.
"Good?" he asked, giving her a hard pat on the shoulder.
"Yep." Lex’s eyes focused, then unfocused. "Nope. Head rush," she said on her way to the ground. Five minutes later she woke up and squinted at her uncle’s hovering head.
"Hey, kiddo. What’s your name?" he asked.
"What month are we in?"
"Yankees or Mets?"
"Good girl." He yanked her up from the ground and pointed at a nearby hill. "This way."
Lex swallowed a couple of times, clutched her stomach, and followed him through the trees as he began talking into his wrist once more.
"Yep, she got in just fine, no problems to speak of. Lex, say hi to your dad."
"Dad!" She grabbed her uncle’s arm and shouted into the flickering metal. "Your brother is a lunatic. He’s trying to kill me!"
"Nice try, Lex," her father’s tinny voice answered. "You’re not getting home that easily."
"I don’t think you’re fully grasping the enormity of the situation, Dad. He doesn’t even have a television!"
Uncle Mort jerked his arm away, hung up, and began walking faster. "Enough chat. Let’s enjoy us some nature."
Lex tried to keep up. "Good idea. Find me a nice tree to puke on."
They were now ascending the gently sloping side of a grassy bluff. When at last they reached the top, Lex gaped at her surroundings, which included, among other things, an enormous gray boulder that almost seemed to be keeping watch over the town below. "Where are we?"
Uncle Mort walked to the brink of the precipice and sat down on the cliff ’s edge. "Best place in Croak to watch the sunset."
Something in Lex snapped. She didn’t want to watch a sunset. She wanted to be told what in holy hell was going on here. The rage stirred yet again, spurring her to grab her uncle’s arm and twist it behind his back as hard as she could.
Seemingly bored with her antics, Uncle Mort breathed a peaceful sigh and gazed into the distance. The sun, a fiery ball of neon orange, set over the village below them.
"What can you see out there, Lex?" he asked in a tranquil voice.
"Well," Lex said, twisting harder, "I see a pitiful excuse for a town, some trees, a few hills, and an abusive, stark raving madman." She dug her nails into his wrist. "That about cover it?"
"More or less. Hey, would you mind letting go? It’s starting to tickle."
Lex dropped his arm with a defeated grunt. How had she not separated his shoulder by now? Why wasn’t he begging for mercy?
"Just sit," he said. "You may continue your attempt to detach one of my limbs later. Right now, there are some things you need to know."
Lex sat, defeated, exhausted, but most of all, confused—because despite all efforts to suppress such inclinations, she could not help but feel the tiniest bit of admiration for her uncle, who was now wiping away the few drops of blood that emerged where her nails had dug into his skin.
He caught her sheepish gaze. "Don’t worry, I’ve encountered much worse," he said, his eyes sparkling with either youthful excitement or demented delirium. "I knew you’d put up a good fight. I’d be surprised and frankly insulted if you hadn’t."
Lex cocked her head. The wrath that had raged within her only seconds ago seemed to be rapidly melting away of its own accord, like an ebbing storm. What was going on?
"But you’re also smart," he went on, "which is why you’re going to listen very closely to what I’m about to tell you. Right?"
Lex found herself nodding. How did he do that?
He turned serious, all traces of insanity abruptly leaving his face. "Your parents haven’t been entirely forthcoming with you, Lex. Nor have I been entirely forthcoming with your parents. It was my idea for you to come here, not theirs. When I heard that you had turned delinquent, I knew your time had come. So I suggested to your father that you visit me and experience some country living." His eyes turned dark. "But that is not your purpose here."
Lex listened as patiently as she could, tearing a piece of grass into microscopic shards.
"We’re going into town tomorrow, and I want you to be prepared. What we do here is important business and should never, ever be taken lightly. We have been blessed—and burdened—with a very grave responsibility, if you’ll forgive the pun." He glanced over the valley. "Croak, as you may have gathered, is a different kind of town. All of its citizens exist for a common purpose. Naturally, from time to time we need some fresh blood, which is where you come in. And as I said earlier, you’re going to be a natural. Trust me on that one. All you need to do is pay close attention, learn as much as you can, and try not to be scared by anything you see."
"Scared of what?" she said. "How disgustingly adorable your little village is? The perfectly groomed flowers? The—the . . ." Lex trailed off. A national coffee shop chain wasn’t the only thing missing from this town. She had seen no firehouses, no police departments, churches, gas stations, schools . . .
A furious outbreak of goose bumps flickered across her skin. Everything was starting to feel very strange.
That same electric crackle shot through the air once more as Uncle Mort opened his mouth to speak. "Lex," he said, "Croak is a portal—one that sits between our world and the next."
A strange noise escaped Lex’s lips, something between a stupefied gasp and a dubious snicker. "What?"
"That’s why you’re here. I’m going to teach you how to do what I do."
"And what is that?"
He leaned in close. She could feel his breath on her face.
"I Kill people."
What People are Saying About This
"The central mystery is genuinely puzzling, and Lex’s narrative voice is funny and fresh. . . . Fantasy fans who like their tales gritty and filled with irreverent humor will be eager for the follow-up."—Kirkus Reviews
"The morbid subject matter is kept in check by entertaining characters, clever twists, and a sly, self-aware sense of humor."—Publishers Weekly
"Go ahead and die laughing, knowing that the safe transport of your mortal soul will be the summer job of a sweetheart teen with godlike power and discipline problems. A lot of books make me wish I could live within their pages, but I wouldn't mind dying in this one." —Adam Rex, author of Fat Vampire "Creepy and hilarious."—VOYA, 4Q, 5P
"Damico nicely balances the grim subject matter with a heavy dose of humor, and the third-person narration provides some deadpan perspective on Lex’s absurd situation that gives the story an appealing tall-tale feel. . . . An intricate and imaginative construction of the afterlife that is as amusing as it is unique."—Bulletin
"Teens looking for something new will find this scythe-swinging debut novel to die for. . . . [A] wacky, highly entertaining new series."—Booklist "Creative details, sarcastic humor, and quick-witted dialogue makes Croak rise above other stories of its type."—SLJ
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book was extremly good. It was funny in all the right places (i got some weird looks from my brother after literally laughing out loud multiple times). The characters were realistic and relatable. The setting was awesome and the details were amazing. I loved Lex and Drigg's sarcasm and personalitites. Overall, a very good book. I highly recomend it.
This was a very funny and fresh take on the whole grim reaper thing. Lots of great banter, some romance and plenty of laugh-out-loud moments made this a very fun read. My only complaint is the ending that made me REALLY wish the next book was out already.
Interesting storyline. Nice twist on the grim reaper. Did love the sarcasm. Did not have to continuously pound the reader with Lex's bratishness. (Reminds me of Stephen King pounding me continuously. The reader gets it after the first couple of incidents.) Weak ending. Did not appreciate the author's attempt at a cliff hanging ending to get you to purchase the next book in the series - I won't.
it is a very good book to read should be on the must read
new sub genres combos if you are into preteen humor and serials more like cartoon strip captions you might get through this blurb says it all. buska
This book is outstanding. A very well paced adventure with plenty of humor. If you speak primarily sarcasm then buy this book and saturate your brain with it. My only problem being that it ended so suddenly I thought surely I hadn't down loaded some if the book. Good thing there are two more in the series.
This book looked really good when I read the description, but I was terribly disappointed. The idea of the story sounded great, but this author's writing skills are on a fifth grader's level, honestly. It's choppy; the author jumps around so much and the transitions between events are practically nonexistent. And the dialogue is so simple and not well thought out. The attempts at humor are trying way too hard and falling short entirely. I'm not really sure how any publisher or editor could read this and decide to put it on the market. I wish someone who could actually write would make a book with this story line, though, because it was a good idea. Just a terrible execution of said idea.
This is one of the best books i've ever read. Its funny intence and you wont be able to put it down. I meen realy who wouldnt love haveing a crazy uncle, loveing partner/bf and amazing abilitys you cant even explane
Lex Bartleby is a terror. She acts out, attacks people, and has a horrible attitude. No one is immune from her verbal or physical attacks: teachers, classmates, every clique, her own family. Her family is completely fed up with her behavior. Even her twin sister stops defending her. Her parents' last resort solution is to send her to live with her Uncle Mort in upstate New York to work on his farm. Lex doesn't really know why she acts this way and of course she doesn't want to be shipped off to shovel manure or milk cows. When Lex arrives, she finds there is no farm and he lives in a bizarre town called Croak. It turns out he is a Grim Reaper and he is there to recruit her to become one as well. She takes to it quickly, but can't let go of her sense of justice as she watches murderers and criminals walk away time and time again. While she struggles, mysterious deaths pop up with no known cause and completely white eyes. These deaths keep showing up and start to become more frequent. Can Lex follow the rules and keep her Reaper job? How are these mysterious deaths happening?I picked up Croak on a whim because I thought the plot sounded pretty cool: kind of like Dead Like Me for younger teens. At the outset, I wasn't really impressed. I was annoyed by Lex and her "I hate everyone" attitude that didn't have any reason behind it. I felt incredibly sorry for her parents and her twin sister, but I kept reading, hoping it would improve. After she got to Croak, everything became exponentially better, mostly because after began Reaping, her behavior became tolerable. It took a while for Lex to get used to everything and dispense of her horrible attitude, but once she did, she really belonged and was accepted. I loved the world building of Croak and their inner workings. There are two types of reapers: Killers who release a soul and Cullers who collect the soul. They work in teams and use their scythes to transport to the dying person (where time is frozen) to release and collect their soul. The Junior Reapers are all around Lex's age and all had the same anger and behavior problem that Lex did, but they came from much worse situations. None of them had any families or parents to speak of and Mort stepping in saved many of their lives. The dynamic between such different people was delightful to read. This city's sole purpose is to house Reapers and the people that make everything run smoothly. I loved that all the places and even the restaurant menus had morbid and punny names. The language really sucked me into the novel and I ended up reading it in a few hours. The majority of the novel was pretty light in tone with a good amount of humor to lighten the morbid themes and plot. The last portion of the novel becomes very dark, sinister, and frankly depressing with some unexpected plot twists and turns. It was a little surprising, but showed that the world of death isn't just fun and games. The ending was very powerful and tragic and left me wanting more. Through Lex's journey, I really grew to like her and I even enjoyed her budding romance with her partner, Driggs. I can't wait to read more Lex's story and the second book can't come out fast enough for me.
Review Courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales Quick & Dirty: The juvenile humor in Croak makes for quite a bit of laugh out loud moments. The setup to the world of Croak is well thought out. There are a few slow spots but ultimately the ending made up for all of it. Opening Sentence: Lex wondered, for a fleeting moment, what her principal¿s head might look like if it were stabbed atop a giant wooden spear. Review: Lexington Bartleby is a hellion. She is quick to tell someone off and even quicker with her fists. She is so hotheaded to bash someone¿s face in that her fellow school mates have nicknamed her Tyrannosaurus Lex. Her parents are at their wits end, they don¿t know what is causing her strange behavior. Up until two years ago, she had been a straight A model student who never got in trouble. Her family decides that for Lex¿s own good she will go work on her Uncle¿s farm in upstate New York for the summer, hoping it will teach her life skills and get her behavior under control. Lex learns pretty early on why she is in Croak. Croak is a town inhabited by grim reapers; the businesses are all themed towards death. Her uncle doesn¿t even own a cow let alone a farm. He gives her one night to let her think about the fact that she is a grim reaper. The next day she begins her training. She has a natural talent for killing, so natural that she receives a strong electric shock every time she touches someone who has died. On her first day she must kill a murder victim, a bullet hole is still smoking from his forehead when she releases his soul. His murderer is still standing there holding the gun. Lex wants nothing more than to touch the murderer but it is against the rules and is stopped before she does anything unfortunate. Her anger rises up every time she comes across a murder victim. On her second day of training, strange and unexplained deaths start showing up. The deaths always have some cause attributed to it, but these strange white eyed victims drop dead long before they are actually supposed to die. Lex is now teamed up with Driggs, a good looking older boy, with two different colored eyes. As time passes more of these strange deaths turn up and when the town of Croak learns about it, they believe Lex has something to do with it since they started when she showed up. Lex has a twin sister, Cordy, whom she has never been separated from for more than a day. Lex feels strange being away from her sister. There are so many rules to being a grim reaper and one of those is that she can¿t tell anyone about what she can do. She avoids her sister now more than ever because she knows she cannot lie to her. Cordy will know she is hiding something. Lex risks having her mind erased just as she begins to have friends and the most fun she¿s ever had in two years. This book is full of juvenile humor. It¿s good that I like that kind of thing, if you don¿t then you may not like Croak. One of my favorite parts was when Lex¿s mom ties her up with a jump rope because she wants to make sure Lex is paying attention to the conversation. Basically she¿s tied up for her family¿s health. I also enjoyed how the town of Croak loves to take advantage of lost tourists conveniently parting them from their money while running them out of town. The funny humor helps keep the tone of the book from being all dark and gloomy. Croak is definitely a young adult book. There is quite a bit of cursing in the beginning but it tapers off as the book goes on. The romance is light-hearted but inconsistent, while one second they are thinking about ripping off each other¿s clothes (this doesn¿t happen), then it shifts to not really describing the kiss that finally ensues. Lex is a character that is trying to find her place in the world. She is a sympathetic character. She wants to fit in, do her job and also catch the bad guys, but if she does that, she will lose what she has built for herself in Croak. Lex is not a complex character. The decisions she makes are based on he
Lex Bartleby is a 16 year old hellion. She¿s about to be expelled, but the fact that there are only 2 days left of school kind of defeats the purpose. So the principal lets it slide with the promise from her parents that she will straighten up over the summer.Summer. This Summer will be spent working on her Uncle Mort¿s farm. Apparently when Dad was sharing with his younger brother all the trouble Lex has been causing, Mort said, ¿send her here, I¿ll take care of it¿ and that¿s what they did.Only good Ol¿ Uncle Mort isn¿t a farmer¿.nope, he is the mayor of Croak. What is croak? Well that¿s the town in upstate New York where the grim reapers who work the Eastern third of the US live, and work. And Lex is about to become their newest rookie.This was such a fun read. I loved the town of Croak which really took all the death clichés and ran with them. With cocktails like the Yorick that is served in a skull! The main street is called ¿Dead End¿. Going through the ether made me think of Space Mountain on an acid trip. And the absurdity of the afterlife¿Former Presidents giving newcomer orientations and everyone picking on Edgar Allan Poe. Lex starts out really rough around the edges¿but the whole reaping thing softens her a bit. That is until she reaps her first murder victim and she can see exactly who the murderer is. That when she starts pushing back. Looking for guidelines¿boundaries. This is also the same time where a series of murders start showing up as ¿unknown¿. Any reaper with a little experience can tell you exactly what someone died of¿but not these people who have all white eyes. The more Lex questions and pushes the more she sinks into the mystery, up to her eyeballs, and the more the townspeople start to blame her arrival for all the troubles.You have to read this book! If for no other reason than to find out about the world of grim reapers! The gallows humor was just the right amount. The explanations for how the reaper world works were completely plausible. I can¿t speak highly enough about this funny and highly imaginative read. I so hope there will be more from Gina Damico and Lex.
CROAK is a little town in the middle of no where that cheats tourists out of money, names their establishments after death and oh yeah, all of its residents are grim reapers. Lately Lex has been getting into trouble and her parents send her off with her Uncle Mot for the summer. She quickly realizes that her Uncle is not who she always thought he was and she is following in his footsteps. Lex really had no clue as to why she was suddenly getting into so much trouble. Her temper was all over the place, she would hit people for no reason and argue with everyone. When her parents told her she was going to her Uncles for the summer she was angry and a little scared that she was going to have to leave her twin sister behind. Lex quickly fell into her new role as a grim reaper and jumped into new friendships and situations. I enjoyed all the other teen grim reapers and it was interesting to learn about the different roles they played. Everyone but Lex comes from tragedy somehow and that makes Lex a bit different from them. From the beginning she can do things that no one else can and that plays a big role in the events of CROAK.There was a great amount of humor, complex characters and an interesting town that was fun to navigate. The world building was neat. The Grim's source of travel and power was unique. There were a few slow parts but they in no way took away any of my interest in the story. The events at the end of CROAK were a bit easy to predict. I know it will play a huge role in the events of book 2. I have a few theories on why Lex is how she is that I'm hoping will be revealed quickly so I'm excited to get a hold of SCORCH to see if I'm right.
Croak is an odd mix; part morbid, part humorous, part romantic and part heartbreaking. An odd mix for sure, but one that works surprisingly well.When Lex goes from a straight A child to a delinquent who is constantly finding herself in trouble, her parents think it is a good idea to send her to live with her Uncle Mort and work on his farm for the summer. Little do her parents know, there is no farm. Mort lives in the small town of Croak, a portal between the living and the dead where the inhabitants all play apart in death - transferring the souls from this world into the next. At first the idea of it seems repulsive, but Lex soon starts to appreciate and even enjoy her new job. But when a surge of unexplained killings appears, fear rages. Is it possible that Lex really did have something to do with it?I was surprised how funny and light this books was at times. Lex is extremely sarcastic and impulsive, offering humorous moments made even more funny by that fact that she is not trying to be funny. A range of other characters, especially a few iconic historical figures who make a cameo, add great comic relief. What was impressive was that just as I was getting used to reading a funny, joking book about death, tragedy hits and the contrast between the light humor and dark, suspenseful, fearful action is shocking. I was not expecting to feel for the characters the way I did. The emotional connections is really a job well done.My only big criticism is with the cover. Honestly, if I didn't read an e-book, I probably would have passed over it. Don't make that mistake, because it really is a fun and interesting read.
MY THOUGHTSABSOLUTELY LOVED ITLex has uncontrollable urges to hurt people almost to the point of killing them. She has an almost superhuman strength about her, so just as she is about to be kicked out of school, her parents ship her off to her uncle's farm where they think some good old fashioned work will help her contain her violent tendencies. All except Uncle Mort doesn't have farm chores in mind for Lex. He know she has all the qualities to become an excellent grim reaper, just like he is. Lex falls in line with her new life strategy and meet people her age who understand her. Not as well as her twin, Cordy, but it is nice not to hide her newly discovered gifts any longer. I love the fact that they are named after Lexington and Concord, from the Revolutionary War. Uncle Mort has teamed her up with Driggs, another reaper misfit, and things are really starting to fall into place when the pair discover that people are dying and no one knows the cause of death. They begin to suspect that the murderer is actually another reaper since these people are scheduled to die. The story quickly because a romantic paranormal thriller with the clock ticking as they try to discover who is doing the deed as Lex and Driggs slowly find that they are in love. The story reminded me a bit of Dead Like Me that ran on television years ago about a teenage reaper mixed in with a bit of Christopher Moore weirdness and humor. I just adored the writing and how everything flowed, especially with my favorite thing on earth: snark and sarcasm. OH MY! What a treat this story was! I immediately got right into Lex and her whole world which contained a bit of Harry Potter magical elements as well. Lex is one of those characters that you can easily identify with, she isn't perfect and she knows it. The other characters in the book come from broken homes and Lex is almost set aside since she comes from a loving home. She questions authority, she is extremely curious and she does end up finally becoming comfortable in her own skin. The evil Zara is an excellent foil to Lex's goodness. Now, I can't wait for the follow up, Scorch that will be released next September. It is going to be a long summer wait.
A must read for fans of the supernatural. This is a fun, different read that had me hankering for a little of the Grim business in my life. (Truthfully, I think that I would very much want to run away from the dead, but that's the beauty of books. You get to experience what you can't in reality.) The town of Croak is wonderfully constructed. I love it all around from the the names of places to their rules for dealing with tourists to the occupants themselves.The characters are a bundle of fun, wit, and quirks. Lex is a teenage delinquent with a hyperactive imagination that I admire. She comes up with the most brilliant, funny scenarios. It's hard to believe that she has a hard time dealing with the anger broiling somewhere within her, yet that is the reason she's shipped to Uncle Mort. I did not see Uncle Mort coming. Not his attire or the way he proves to be a danger stranger that can be good for troubled kids like Lex and her fellow reaper misfit Driggs.Croak is a fun, fast-paced read. It is filled with detailed imagery and passages that will have you laughing outright. Nevertheless, there are also times where the characters get serious--must get serious. Romance brews as Lex and Driggs team up to find out who is behind the mysterious deaths taking place.
When Miranda becomes a good girl gone bad - her parents ship her off for the summer to work on her Uncle Morty's farm. Only Uncle Morty isn't a farmer - he's a Grim - a harvester of souls. And he's going to teach Miranda the business. Quirky & original, Croak works on multiple levels: fantasy, mystery, teen angst and little "will they/won't they" romance. A good solid read. This book will appeal to teen girls and guys who like sarcastic wit, teen hijinks and a light mystery.
I've been in a bit of a slump regarding books, having a really hard time finding something that really drew me in and held my attention (seriously, I have four that I've started and set aside just in the last couple of days). That was cured by Croak; I started this book and didn't even THINK about reading anything else until this one was done. This book is very charming and has a wonderful sense of humor about it - sometimes sarcastic, sometimes just LOL-funny - which is especially interesting for me personally considering the subject matter. I mean, Grim Reapers and death isn't really all that laugh-worthy, right? But in the world of Croak, and especially in the narration of our main character, Lex, it totally is. I loved every single second of this book.First off, Lex is probably not what you would consider a charming main character, considering that when we first meet her, she's in the principal's office with her parents after getting into yet another fight. But the fact of the matter is that her inner monologue is simply hysterical; there's really no other word for it. She has a very dry outlook on life, and it shows in her inner musings. She says exactly what she thinks, and doesn't really care of her opinion bothers other people. And while she's suddenly given in to these violent tendencies, the truth is that she doesn't know why, she doesn't know where the anger has come from, and she doesn't know how to stop herself from lashing out. You can tell that she's just as confused as everyone else. So when her parents decide to send her to her uncle, she is of course hurt that they'd send her away, because they're her parents and they're supposed to love her unconditionally and put up with all her crap.But then she meets Uncle Mort, and things suddenly become crystal clear: she's angry and lashing out because she's hit the age where her Grim Reaper blood has stirred. And this is when things got really fun and exciting. She meets a whole group of Juniors - kids around her own age who all have their own stories and histories and can exchange stories about their own falls into delinquency - and it's at this point where I was just completely charmed by the entire world, all the characters, and the story itself. Lex is thrown headfirst into the art of Killing and Culling souls, and of course is paired with a ridiculously attractive guy named Driggs (who was also taken in by her uncle, who, by the way, the family thinks is a farmer) and t~e~n~s~i~o~n starts to form between them, but it was done in such a way that it didn't feel ridiculous or overdone and definitely couldn't qualify for insta-love (which, thank God, seriously, because I would have hated to take away any stars!). On top of all of this, Driggs and Lex start to realize that something weird is going on, in that people are dying who aren't supposed to be. And this is where the mystery and danger start to come into play.Now, I have lamented the fact that I have read several books already this year that use the "teenage girl tries to solve the crimes instead of leaving things up to the proper authorities" trope, but, again, this was done in a way that was different and refreshing, and, yes, I'm going to use that word again, just utterly charming. Mixed in with the strange deaths are all of these humorous asides like how random people have died (shooting themselves in the chest with a nail gun to kill the mosquito that had landed there, choking on a hamster, getting run over by an airlines luggage cart, etc.), and the fun things that Lex and her fellow Juniors do for fun. It really helped keep the grimness (yes, pun intended!) of their occupation from getting too dark.And then you had the mythology of the Reapers, and the story of that one frightening Grim who took his powers and disobeyed the laws and killed for fun, which turns out to be a main focal point of the book and the overlying mystery. I probably should have seen the "bad guy" before it was revealed
Lex was never this bad. She used to be the goody-two-shoes with straight A's and no absent marks. But for some reason unknown, Lex has turned into a quick-tempered, dirty mouthed bully. She's punched kids from wheelchairs to jocks and cheerleaders. But enough is enough. Lex has finally crossed the line.And what luck! Uncle Mort has suddenly appeared asking to take Lex away for the summer. A little vacation away from the civilized world to get Lex back into her place. And Lex's parents are all for it, but Lex can't stand being away from her twin sister, Cordy. They've never been separated for more than a couple of days. Summer was officially going to suck. Or at least that's what Lex thought. Apparently there's more to the dull, boring family she's always known. Lots more.In the small town of Croak with the population a soaring 80 people, things look groggy and boring. But never judge a town by it's population size, judge it by its people. One look at the place and it looks like a hillbilly hell (a nice hillbilly hell to be fair), but if you look closer you'll see the inhabitants carrying scythes and wearing black all day long. Some would even disappear for hours. Why? Because they're grim reapers. And Lex is about to become one as well, but just like most small towns, there's a Crasher on the loose. Someone is killing people instead of reaping the souls. And now they're after Lex.Croak can be described in one word: Hilarious. I was cracking up throughout the entire book. It's darkly witty and guaranteed to have you rolling in laughter page after page. The story line is original and entirely refreshing. The characters are exuberant and extremely enjoyable.Lex is someone who I hated and loved at the same time. She's a fierce heroine you definitely don't want to mess with. I loved her wit and sarcastic comebacks. She had a strong head and wouldn't let anyone move her. But she was incredibly arrogant and whiny. It made it more realistic since lots of teenagers are like that (me being an example), but it made it easier to grow tired of her too.Her partner, Driggs, was really super immature, especially for an 18-year-old. He did the stupidest things and acted like a 2-year-old, which is both good and bad. I loved his charm, the way he was never intimidated by Lex, and his personality altogether.But he too didn't know when to stop with the stupid act. The relationship between them both took time and even though it was expected, it didn't disappoint, but I did hate the fact that there were no swoon worthy moments between them. There was just a tiny bit of romance in the entire novel.The plot was incredibly predictable, which was the only downfall. I figured it all out by the middle of the book, and I didn't even have to try hard. There weren't much of any surprises, all of it is sort of common sense and maybe even a little cliche. The humor was the only thing that kept me going, the mystery wasn't so exciting. The pace is consistent throughout the book, not really slowing down or speeding up. The scenery was interesting and I got a clear enough picture in my head.In the end, the book seemed to lose it's cheerful note and was replaced by a depressing gloom. It's not at all scary, just sad.Overall, I ended up with tears rolling down my face with all the laughing. Yes, the ending was gloomy, but the rest of Croak will definitely cheer you up.I highly recommend this to anyone who wants a light, hilarious read for the summer.
He tried to bite her.
The second she entered the kitchen, Lex realized she was famished." I'm about ready to gnaw my arm off," she said to Uncle Mort."What's for dinner?" "Dinner?" He seemed confused " I already gave you breakfast." "Well, on most planets, guardians feed their kids three meals a day." " That seems excessive." LOL !! This book is a witty fun read.. I bought the book based on cover and plot I normally do review checks before hand I mean if 30 reviews are done and 25 are bad what does that tell ya " DON'T DO IT " LOL.. The story follows a 16 year old girl named Lex.. She has been getting into alot of trouble lately and her parents think it is time to get her out and away from their house for the summer thinking it will help her attitude..So to Uncle Mort's house in Croak she goes.. There she meets a new breed of people "Grims".. In this group is her stunning " pool boy " partner Driggs with his one brown eye and one blue.. The adventures the have and the friendships she makes is what the book is mainly about.. I will say the vilian in the book is exactly who I thought it would be however the one plot twist I did not see coming blew my mind.. I recommend this book as a must read.. It is funny, it is about Grims and not to mention it is just a good read..You get into the book feel as though you know the people but it is not a book you have to over think.. I will be reading books 2 & 3 I wanna know how the story continues.. Happy Reading