A sixteen-year-old Grim Reaper-in-training learns the ropes of the "family business" one summer in a town called Croak. With a gripping hook like that, how could I resist? J
But I'll be honest it didn't really and truly HOOK me until I read the first few lines. Want a tiny preview?
Lex wondered, for a fleeting moment, what her principal's head might look like if it were stabbed atop a giant wooden spear.
"I can't imagine why you're smiling young lady."--page 1 of Croak
Seriously??? I cracked up, right there in the bookstore! If there's a better, more hilarious beginning for a reaper book, I don't know it. So, anyway, that's what made me actually buy the book. What kept me reading was the interesting, tongue-and-cheek tone.
Let's look at the facts: Lexington "Lex" Bartleby and her twin sister Concord "Cordy" Bartleby were named after the first battles of the Revolutionary war. Lex has punched more people's light out then Rocky. After one too many schoolyard fights, her parents ship her off to her Uncle Mort in a town called Croak--kind of a last attempt at curing her wily ways. But there Lex learns that her attitude problem is just a sign that she's coming into her own as a Grim Reaper.
One of my favorite parts of the book was the scene where she meets Driggs--the oddball-kind-of-cute teenage guy living in her Uncle Mort's spare bedroom who (whom?) she walks in on in the bathroom. Trust me, it was so unexpectedly funny. And I also really liked Ferbus, Driggs's geeky gamer sidekick. Ferbus was the funniest character in the whole book imo, even though he was only a side character.
I also loved how the book handled the Afterlife, an actual place where souls go once they've been collected by the Grims. The scenes featured George Washington, Abe Lincoln, and a very morose, very funny version of Edgar Allen Poe, who had an ongoing tiff with Teddy Roosevelt. Gina Damico's take on them--and the funny she was able to infuse into those stiff personalities--was nicely done.
I will say there were a few times--especially toward the beginning--where I felt like Lex sounded younger than 16. The first half read more middle grade to me, despite the cursing. And one more thing that I didn't love was the ending. Kinda took a serious turn in the end and there was a death that I didn't think needed to be there, but again, that's just my opinion.
Loved all the funny parts, and I really thought Damico took this concept of Croak and turned it into a real town with real people. It was a very cool read!
Hope everyone's enjoying their week,