Author: Gina Damico
Release Date: March 20, 2012
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Fed up with her wild behaviour, Lex's parents send her off to upstate New York to spend the summer with her uncle, hoping a few months of hard farm work will straighten her out. But then Lex learns that Uncle Mort is a Grim Reaper and that he's going to teach her the family business. It doesn't take long for Lex to fit in with the other young Reapers in town, but whenever she comes across someone who's been murdered, she wants to go after the person who did it. Plus, someone's been killing people who aren't supposed to die. If she finds out who's going the killing, will it stop, or will she join in?
Croak is creepy and dark with loads of snark and humour mixed in. The world Lex is introduced to is so complicated, but then death is rather complicated. The book starts off slowly, introducing the outrageously complex and rough character that Lex is, then you start working your way into the story, into the strange town that is Croak, and then it's like a rush straight towards the end.
Lex is something of a badass. She's rough, she's belligerent, she swears like a trucker, but there's a massive load of snark and sass hidden underneath the hoodie. She definitely has some baggage, has her own opinions about the world, her own sense of right and wrong, and being in Croak will be the biggest lesson she could learn over a summer.
What interested me the most in this book is the twist on grim reapers. Using grim reapers as characters in popular literature and culture is intriguing in that it gives death a face, gives us something tangible to focus on when faced with death. The idea that there is a group, hidden from society, going around taking our souls before we die, sounds impossible, but there's so much we don't know about death, about what happens after death. Saying people are involved, saying there are grim reapers, normal people who travel around and see our last moments, is both whimsical and lightly macabre.
There's also a fair amount of teenagers dealing with violence and death in this book. Sometimes, life isn't perfect, some teens don't have happy families with parents and siblings and white picket fences. But there's still the chance for them to live their own lives, to come together with teens from other situations because they have certain skills. The group of friends that Lex makes in this book is like a family of sorts. Sure, they're all reapers and deal with death on a daily basis, but family is family.
A wry look at death while still fighting to stay alive. Well, if you can't mix humour and death and end up with a great story, what's the point?
(I own a copy of this book.)