The Low Down: Lex Bartleby has spiraled out of control – beating up kids at school, stealing stuff, swearing. The only friend she hasn’t lost is her twin sister, Cordy. Since her parents have reached the end of their respective ropes, they have decided to send Lex to her uncle’s for the summer. To work on his farm.
Much to Lex’s surprise, her Uncle Mort hasn’t been entirely truthful about what he does in Upstate New York. It ain’t planting rutabagas, that’s for sure. After taking the bus for many hours and being dropped off in the middle of a puddle, Uncle Mort drives her into the town (village?) of Croak, population (now) 80. Shortly after arriving, Uncle Mort lets her in on a little secret…Croak is actually a portal to the afterlife. And Uncle Mort? He kills people for a living. What has Lex gotten herself into? And why is she so good at it?
Best Thang ‘Bout It: This book takes smartassery to new heights. I loved Lex, the snarky teen who is just learning who she is. Discovering that she likes having a purpose, a skill, even a crush. She even wises up a little and figures out that all kids don’t have it as great as she does (parent and family-wise). Yes, we’ve read it before…kid doesn’t know who she is/what powers she has; teen is sarcastic and angry; girl and boy clash, then crush…but this retelling has a great story line, with the grim reaperness and the great silliness and some mysteries and unexplainable deaths.
Oh and I love the macabre names – starting with Uncle Mort (Uncle Death? Mort is “death” in French). Of course, the town is called Croak, each of the names of the stores and restaurants have something to do with death (“Dead Meat” is the butcher shop; the diner is called “The Morgue”); the surname of the owner of the bar is Corpp (thus making his bar “Corpp’s”). The favorite drink is a concoction called a Yorick and it’s served in a…wait for it…skull.
I’m Cranky Because: I can’t tell you because it’s a huge spoiler! But believe me, it’s not anything that outweighs the awesomenosity that is Croak. And honestly, I stand and applaud Ms. Damico’s guts (though Lex would most likely say “balls”) at the ending. I’m just glad there’s a sequel. Scorch is out on September 25th.
Should You?: It’ll kill you if you don’t read this.
Croak by Gina Damico was published on March 20, 2012 by Graphia.
Genre: Young Adult Fiction Fantasy Paranormal Death
Ages: 12 and up