by Gina Damico
“Life isn't fair. Why should death be any different?”
"'And what...did you mean when you said you're going to teach me how to Kill people?'Description from Goodreads:
He snickered. 'You didn't really think you were going to spend the whole summer milking cows, did you?'"
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?
Girl with anger-management issues becomes a grim reaper. That's the story in one sentence and it does a pretty good job of encapsulating the humor, snark, and action that happens in the story. Lex was a perfect kid, until she turned 14, and then she would erupt into rages that even she couldn't explain. In a last ditch effort to help their daughter, Lex's parents send her off to her Uncle Mort's farm. Lex thinks she's going to spend the summer milking cows and feeding chickens and other farm-type tasks, much to her dismay (she's not only a city-girl, she's a New York City-girl). But when she gets off the bus in the middle of nowhere and is approached by a guy in black leather, with skeletal hands, and riding on a motorcycle - claiming to be her uncle - she doesn't believe it. And that's only the first of the surprises.
Lex is taken to the small town of Croak, which turns out to be entirely populated by grim reapers. Their job is to release the souls of those that have just died to enable them to move on. Lex is a Killer - she touches the body to release the soul - and every Killer has a partner who is a Culler - who grabs the soul and takes it back to Croak to be released into an afterlife. As the story goes on, Lex's rage diminishes, except when she realizes that she can do nothing to stop the murderers who necessitate some of Lex's Kills.
This book was both fun, exciting, and at times heartbreaking. Damico has created an interesting take on an ancient idea - that of the grim reaper. Here, her reapers start young, and the sign that they're reapers is the strange and sudden rage they all develop in their teens. It's a quick read, definitely a page-turner. I'd highly recommend it to anyone who likes the paranormal or urban fantasy genres or anyone who likes their stories with a side of snark.
The sequel, Scorch, is coming out on September 25th. If you like Croak, make sure to check out Scorch at MPL!
If you're still not convinced, check out this awesome book trailer: