Croak (Croak #1) by Gina Damico
Published: 20 March 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Pages: 311 (paperback)
Genre/s: YA, Fantasy
Source: Own library
The Audio Version
Narrated by: Jessica Almasy
Published: 28 February 2013 by Audible, Inc.
Length: 8 hours, 16 minutes
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?
But now that I have finished Croak, I don't think it really should be singled out as a 'humourous' book - it's definitely funny in a very dark way, but it also has a mystery element that turns it into more than a parody of the paranormal.
Lex is one of my favourite characters of the past few months - she's smart, abrasive and has no fear of saying what she really thinks, but she has a fantastically sarcastic sense of humour which I absolutely loved. She uses her mouth to cover up the fact that she is actually quite self-conscious and insecure, and that makes her instantly relatable. I also loved her fearlessness - she finds out rather abruptly that her uncle is a grim reaper and she's now a junior reaper and takes it all completely in her stride.
Her reaping partner Driggs was the perfect match for Lex - their banter and pinching-hair-pulling-punching-flirting was funny and realistic - I loved that this book didn't fall into the trap of making the female character weak at the knees when a boy she likes comes along - instead, Lex fights it, both figuratively and literally.
The actual plot of the story is far more serious than I thought it would be too - and another pleasant surprise because it is quite dark and provokes quite a lot of discussion amongst the characters - I don't want to give away spoilers, but I really liked the way the subject was handled - seriously rather than flippantly as it might have been in another book.
This series has a great reputation, and for a very good reason - Gina Damico has created a fantastic character in Lex, an intriguing plot and some dark, sarcastic humour to top it off. I've already got Scorch on audio and ready to go!
The Audio Version
The narration of Jessica Almasy is a perfect fit for Croak. She does a fabulous job in bringing the characters to life without the need for extreme inflections, and her tone is perfect, particularly in portraying Lex.