Word Spelunking


Croak (Croak, #1) - Gina Damico Read the original and complete review at Word SpelunkingI’m really intrigued by the idea of Reapers, so I was excited to read Gina Damico’s Croak but I ended up quite disappointed with the story, characters and execution (teehee).Sixteen year old Lex Bartleby used to be a nice, normal straight A student, but now she’s a violent, disrespectful mess. No longer sure what to do with their delinquent daughter, Mr. and Mrs. Bartleby ship Lex off to her Uncle Mort’s “farm” for the summer. Lex doesn’t want to leave her twin sister (and BFF) Cordy, but she has no choice. Lex arrives in Croak, population 80, expecting boring farms and hillbillies, but gets Grim Reapers, scythes and death. Uncle Mort turns out to be a Reaper and Lex begins to train as a Killer. Soon Lex finds herself with a new group of friends, a frustrating (but hot) partner, and a real purpose. But then people who aren’t supposed to die start dying mysteriously and Lex and her new friends set out to catch the murderer.I liked the idea of the overall premise of Croak; the idea of a town full of Grim Reapers and training reapers is a truly awesome idea. Unfortunately, I just never connected with the main character and the mystery and action failed to thrill me.Damico’s take on Reapers, the Afterlife, souls, the ether etc is interesting and imaginative. And the author does do great job of building the physical world of Croak and all the otherworldy places (Afterlife, the ether). There are some fascinating aspects involving jellyfish and spiders…I’m still not entirely sure exactly what the spiders and jellyfish do/make and how they do/make it, but I did find them intriguing.I think my lack of enjoyment really came from my inability to like and connect with the main character, Lex. I like my heroines sarcastic, kickass and feisty, but it seems like Lex is just TOO much of these things, like the author tried too hard to make her fit some kind of mold. And for me, Lex’s sarcasm usually came off more annoying and eye-roll inducing then genuinely funny, and it often fell flat and unnatural. Then there’s the idea of just how violent Lex is. Yes, Lex’s violence and anger is explained as coming with her being a potential Reaper, but I just couldn’t bring myself to be okay with that. I mean in the beginning of the book Lex had already hurt several classmates (like broken bones) and her parents had to literally tie her to the chair to talk to her, then once she gets to Croak she often hits her uncle in anger and she and Driggs (her partner) give each other black eyes from punching one another…I have nothing against violence in books, when it fits with the story, but I guess I found the violence in this book unnecessary.I did like Lex’s new friends in Croak; they’re a fun, entertaining and eclectic bunch. And Unlce Mort is a pretty cool guy. Overall, Driggs is a likable character, but I found the romance/connection between him and Lex to lack a spark.I like dark humor, even morbid humor, but again I just didn’t enjoy most of the humor in this book. Throughout the book, the residents in Croak often discuss and laugh about all the ways their Targets (people whose souls they reap) die, and this just rubbed me the wrong way. And when tourists wander into the town of Croak the residents use Amnesia to make them forget the town, which I understand, but before sending them on their way, Reapers often con the tourists out of money, which I found kind of sketchy…of course, these are personal dislikes and other readers may find these things hilarious.I chose to see this book through to the end because I really wanted to know who the murderer was and although the actual journey to figuring out who he/she was wasn’t very exciting to me, I did like the twisted revelation of who the murderer was and Damico did slip in one shocking event toward the end that had me saying “Oh no she didn’t?!”.MY FINAL THOUGHTS: In the end, Croak just wasn’t for me. I failed to connect with and genuinely like the main character and there were just too many things that kept me from truly enjoying this book. But I think fans of dark humor, snarky heroines and twists on Reapers may like this more than me and should give it a try.

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