Book Review: Croak by Gina Damico

6 Apr

Book cover from Croak (Croak #1) by Gina DamicoTitle: Croak

Author: Gina Damico

Series: Croak, book 1

Genre: Paranormal YA

Publisher: Graphia

Release date: March 20, 2012

Challenge: Debut Author Challenge

Source: ARC from DAC ARC Tour

Summary: 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?

Guys, I have a thing for reapers. I can’t explain it, but they fascinate me. So when I heard that the girls at the DAC ARC Tour had a copy of Gina Damico’s debut, CROAK, about just such a thing, I jumped on it. The whole time I was reading, I had that Blue Oyster Cult song, “Don’t Fear the Reaper” in my head, which is awesome, and kind of the perfect tone for this book because it’s not quite so broody. Indeed, CROAK–while it certainly has its serious, dangerous, menacing moments–is lots of paranormal FUN, and I can’t wait to see where the story goes next. 

Lex is a great character with perhaps a little TOO much spunk and personality for her own good, at least at first. But when her uncle agrees to take her trouble-making ass in, her family hopes that some time on his “farm” will straighten her out. Alas, this is not in the cards, although the reason for Lex’s sudden behavioral turn comes to light and has an outlet: She is a Grim. I loved seeing Lex come to grips with this, and catch on quickly to her calling. It’s great to see her finally have a place where she feels less like a freak, and makes some friends to boot. Although, Croak is a MAJORLY freaky, weird town. But I LOVED IT. I LOVE quirky locals, and Croak is, not surprisingly, crawling with them. 

There were some things about CROAK by Gina Damico that could maybe go either way with you guys, because they sometimes went either way with me as I was reading it (although in truth, I pretty much enjoyed the CRAP out of CROAK). The mythology of the Grims was awesome, but I had some little lingering questions. Honestly, though, these were more things that made me curious, rather than things that bothered me, because they really DIDN’T bother me. I thought Gina Damico built a largely solid mythology for this world, and I know that there’s more to learn. 

The only thing that eventually did start to rankle in CROAK–and maybe I’m just being insensitive (ACK!)–was the way all the other Juniors continually held it against Lex that she had a family and they all came from broken or abusive homes. CERTAINLY, she was never insensitive about it on purpose, and she went to great pains to not talk about her family and upset anyone. But I always found myself hoping that some of the others would realize that it wasn’t Lex’s fault that she didn’t come from a horrific family situation and that she had the same individual problems they all did when they came to Croak. Especially Driggs, who defended her using that same reasoning earlier in CROAK, and then seemed to forget his own argument when he held those same things against Lex later. Because honestly, whenever Lex kind of stepped in it, it was ALWAYS a result of her being clueless and a little naive (on one instance, it comes up because she didn’t recognize cigarette burns on someone’s skin). She never once threw it in someone’s face. Lex had her own family issues, and I wished that she didn’t feel so guilty about HAVING a family that she couldn’t talk to her new besties about it. It just made me feel bad all around. 

But SPEAKING of Driggs: the romance. It’s pretty legit. Nice swooniness levels, and a good slow-burning partnership between Lex and Driggs. I liked Driggs. He has a great, dark sense of humor like everyone else in CROAK, and you always understand that he’s got his own secrets that he doesn’t like to share, and I’m always intrigued and attracted to that kind of mystery. I liked, too, that Lex and Driggs really start as flirty friends. They are building a great foundation. YAY, Gina Damico!

CROAK is really enjoyable, friends. It’s got this great dark humor, and all these weird but wonderful characters. The bad guy is one of those characters who you can sometimes empathize, even when they do horrible things (and this bad guy DOES. The ending is HARSH). I LOVED that this is a solid paranormal that isn’t bogged down by SERIOUS. Lots of things go down at the end of CROAK and I can’t wait to see what happens in the next book! Gina Damico has done us all a solid, guys, and you’ll be looking forward to more from Lex, Driggs, and the rest of the Grims for sure. 

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7 Responses to “Book Review: Croak by Gina Damico”

  1. reutreads April 6, 2012 at 8:57 am #

    Yay for sequels in six-month intervals! I cannot wait for the second book. DRIGGS ❤

  2. Lisa April 6, 2012 at 2:45 pm #

    Was not aware of the slow burn romance. Obviously, I’m in it for the grims as well.

    Solid review! Per usual.

  3. A. Knight April 7, 2012 at 1:01 pm #

    Er, why was I hesitant to start this? 😦

    Asher

  4. April C (@booksandwine) April 7, 2012 at 6:25 pm #

    I legit like dark humor. AND UPSTATE NY COME ON AND RAISE UPPPPP! HOLLA! That is my hood.

    Also?

    I quite like troublemakers.

    AND REAPERS.

    AND BLUE OYSTER CULT.

    SOLDDDDDD!

  5. Heidi April 7, 2012 at 6:51 pm #

    Reapers are awesome! As is quirk, and dark humor, and pretty much all of the other goodness you’ve mentioned. I’m really excited to get to this one. Just thinking about it has me wanting to watch Dead Like Me…

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Five Reasons Friday: Tripping Over Books - April 13, 2012

    […] AMY SLAM DUNKS ON US ALL WITH HER GREAT TASTE IN BOOKS. Like, when she goes nuts over a book, like Croak I know that I need to get my grubby little hands on it, because her taste is eerily similar to […]

  2. Top Ten Tuesday (50) « - October 23, 2012

    […] finally a Halloweeny book with LOLs. CROAK is a fun book, friends. Sure, there’s definitely some paranormal business going on that is not fun at all, […]

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