Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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?
Lex is an absolute teenage nightmare. She wasn’t always this way, but when she hit puberty, she got into fights for the smallest reasons, served more detentions than there are Chinese people, and basically became a delinquent. Her parents send her off to her Uncle Mort’s farm for the summer so that she can cool off a bit. Little do they know that Uncle Mort is actually a grim reaper (better known as a Grim) and helps souls move on to the Afterlife, and he thinks his niece is perfect for the job. Thus begins a very strange but interesting journey that will turn Lex’s life upside down completely.
“Lex,” he said, “Croak is a portal – one that sits between our world and the next.”
A strange noise escaped Lex’s lips, something between a stupefied gasp and a dubious snicker. “What?”
“That’s why you’re here. I’m going to teach you how to do what I do.”
“And what is that?”
He leaned in close. She could feel his breath on her face.
“I Kill people.”
This book blew me away from the get-go with its originality. As a main character, Lex was a dream come true and I immediately liked her. She was tough, sarcastic, hilariously snarky, but most of all, different. Lex was so different from the main characters I’ve grown so bored with that I couldn’t stop smiling. Just the fact that she wasn’t another one of those whiny tits made me love her. She was amazing and I wish I could hug her, although I’m afraid she’d bite my head off. Take a look at this:
“I’m sorry, but the list of scars that my students have sustained at the hand of your daughter grows longer each week. Poor Logan Hochspring’s arm will forever carry an imprint of her dental records!”
“You bit him?” Lex’s father said.
“He called me a vampire,” she said. “What was I supposed to do?”
“[Lex] scanned the seats and spotted Zara glaring at her – an activity that Driggs also seemed to be enjoying.
“What?” Lex quietly snapped at him. “What did I do?”
“I can’t believe you told her.”
“Oh my God,” she said, rolling her eyes. “This is so high school. I’m gonna go cry into my locker.”
And tell me you don’t like her.
Uncle Mort and Lex’s partner Driggs could have given her a run for her money. They don’t feel threatened by her anger in the least – they just snark back, because they were just the same. I loved the dynamic between the three. I only wish Uncle Mort had been more present in the book. I was so pleased when he came to pick her up, and all of a sudden he was moved to the background and we barely saw him, only as the mayor. The banter between Lex and Driggs was hilarious, and I loved watching their awkward love/hate romance blossom. More of this, please! I also really liked the relationship between Lex and her twin sister Cordy. They were very close and insulted each other constantly, which was awesome.
The world-building was absolutely spectacular. I loved the whole town of Croak, with its little shops carrying clever names like Dead Meat and Corpp’s, and the side characters were great. There was also the Afterlife, a place where most souls go to spend the rest of eternity. The Afterlife had some very interesting inhabitants – Alexander Graham Bell annoys the Grims because he won’t stop experimenting with ringtones, and Edgar Allan Poe is a whiny emo who’s depressed about the fact that he’s dead. Their cameos were beautiful.
I fell in love with the sense of humour. All the conversations and the banter between the characters had me smiling like a moron most of the time. It was absolutely hysterical. The fact that Croak relied so much on its humour made me appreciate it even more. You don’t see that very often.
However, I did find some faults. The ending was quite predictable – I called several things way in advance. That did not stop me from enjoying the story, but it would’ve been nice if it turned out to be a complete shocker. The events were logical though, which is probably why I had anticipated it in the first place. Like I said, not enough Mort. And the ending was a bit anticlimactic, but I’m curious to see what’s going to happen in the next instalments.
All I have to say is that Croak was like a great breath of fresh air. I’d recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a quick, fun read – it was hilarious, original, and so different from your typical YA, but in the absolute best way possible.