Review: Croak by Gina Damico

20 November, 2013 Reviews 21 comments

Review: Croak by Gina DamicoCroak by Gina Damico
Series: Croak #1
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on March 20th 2012
Pages: 311
Genres: Paranormal Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Amazon Good BooksBook Depository

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?

From Goodreads

Have you read Croak? If not, you should probably do so ASAP because it is all kinds of awesome.


I picked up this book because of a 5 star review from Christina at A Reader of Fictions.

You may not be aware, but she has some pretty high standards (much higher than mine) and excellent taste, so I went in with high hopes. As you can see, I was not disappointed.

Croak is one of those excessively witty books that you either wholeheartedly respond to or end up feeling like it was tediously overdone. It felt kind of Sarah Rees Brennan-ish, but with more rage (which I, personally, respond to.)

As you may have gathered from the summary, Lex is a speshul snowflake. But her speshul snowflake-ness manifests itself in a delightfully unusual way. A formerly kind, sweet girl, Lex presently finds herself continually overcome with massive amounts of anger for little to no reason. She deals with it like so:

Punch you in the FACE

Except, instead of a punching bag, it’s the nearest face. I found this to be a hilarious, welcome twist on a time-honored plot device. I mean, violence isn’t cool and all that jazz, but I thoroughly enjoyed this atypical heroine behavior.

Anyway, after Lex punches one person too many, her parents tie her to a chair (no joke, they have a set of bungee cords specifically for this as it is apparently the only way to get Rage!Lex to hold still and listen without attacking them. I’m telling you, this girl is a massive asshole in the beginning and it tickled the shit out of me) and explain they are sending her to a little town in the middle of nowhere to work off some of her anger management issues on her uncle Mort’s farm.

But then, PLOT TWIST! Uncle Mort (an amazing, ridiculous, motorcycle-riding, I-play-with-forks-and-electrical-outlets-and-that’s-why-my-hair-looks-like-this, mad scientist conundrum of a character) isn’t a farmer, he’s a Grim Reaper and so is Lex!


Turns out, not only is Lex a Grim, she’s a really, really good Grim and here’s where the fun and shenanigans begin. Croak has a very Dead Like Me vibe to it, a well-balanced mix of quirky humor and serious plot. (If you don’t understand that reference, please get yourself to the nearest video streaming service of your choice and watch Dead Like Me–the show, not the movie–RIGHT. NOW.) In addition to meeting the wacky cast of characters residing in Croak (a town full of all the deathly puns a gal could ask for) Lex is quickly embroiled in a murder mystery that threatens the entire world she has only just discovered and come to love. Together with Mort and her partner Driggs, Lex must try to stay one step ahead of the killer and figure out just what the hell is going on.

Now, you may not have noticed, but I am a bit of an amateur shipper (I wouldn’t dare dream to call it more than a hobby, I am nowhere near as dedicated as some) and Lex/Driggs?

I ship it like FedEx

From the moment they punched each other in the face, I had boarded and declared myself captain of their ship. (Yes, there was mutual punching, but before anyone gets all ‘boys shouldn’t hit girls,’ I agree with you. But I also think if you want to run around indiscriminately punching people in the face, it’s only fair for them to punch back and either way, Gina Damico makes it work.)

The hate-to-love dynamic is a tricky beast. I adore it when it’s done right and it drives me bananaballs when it falls short. Lex and Driggs are hate-to-love done right. Their sniping and USTy-ness was adorable and I wanted to smash their faces together and force them to make out.

Now kiss

Basically, here’s Croak in a nutshell: A weird set of circumstances that Damico skillfully weaves together with black humor and eccentric details. There were probably parts of the story that were imperfect, but honestly? I was too busy LOLing all over the place to be bothered by them. If this sounds in any way appealing to you, read this book. Read it now.

Meg Morley

Meg Morley

Co-bloggery at Cuddlebuggery
Meg is an all-around book nerd who just really wants to talk about books, preferably with other people but by herself will do. Find her on Goodreads.

21 Responses to “Review: Croak by Gina Damico”

    • Meg

      You do! I wasn’t exaggerating when I said I was LOLing, it’s hilarious. Also sweet and generally amazing.

      • Sierra

        will there be a sequel to Croak?> Read it. Love it. But it left on sssssssuch a cliff-hanger!!

  1. Kristilyn (Reading in Winter)

    Great review! I loooove this series. It’s so unbelievably funny that I can look past the predictability of it all. I’ve only read one Sarah Rees Brennan (and wasn’t a huge fan), so I can’t compare her writing with Gina Damico’s but I do love how she can mix the suspense and the funny. It’s just so snarky! I hope you love the rest of the series just as much!
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    • Meg

      It reminded me of SRB in the way the jokes and quips never end, but Croak is definitely more on the snark end of the spectrum. Either way, looooooved it!

  2. Christianna

    I need to get on the Croak train, like yesterday! It sounds like it’s such a funny and amazing book! I’m all for all of the things that you say happen in this one and I love me some dark humor. Kinda sounds like it’s a bit like the tv show Reaper too! If you haven’t watched that, you need to!
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    • Meg

      Oooh, haven’t seen Reaper, I’ll have to check it out. Thanks for the tip!

      You have to get on the Croak train, it’s an awesome train. Full of fabulous train-y bits, like those fun sliding door compartments. Very Hogwarts Express without being anything like that. This response has ceased to make sense.
      Meg recently posted…Review: Croak by Gina DamicoMy Profile

    • Meg

      Feel free to recommend stuff forever, I will read it. It will balance out all the terrible books you’ve tricked me into agreeing to read for you.

      I stumbled across a tumblr post called The Master List of Ship Gifs of which there were many. I’m stockpiling to shoehorn into ship-focused reviews.

      Speaking of, I shipped Driggs and Lex’s bra almost as much and Lex and Driggs but yeah, that’s more in the later books.

  3. Ellis

    Meg, you violent you with your awesome, giftastic reviews. This sounds amazing. I’m already in a pretty violent mood with all the Fever books I’ve been consuming lately, so this one will do just fine.

    “But I also think if you want to run around indiscriminately punching people in the face, it’s only fair for them to punch back.” Agreed. I used to fight with my brothers all the time. Now, I am older and have been taller than them throughout my entire childhood, so there wasn’t exactly a power imbalance.

    Anyway, ships. I like ships. Hate-to-love ships are some of my favourite. This comment is so useless.

    BANANABALLS. Mental image for the win.
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  4. Meg

    Why thank you! Your comment is not useless, I feed on comments and grow stronger.

    This one isn’t super violent, more verbal warfare, but Lex does tend to hit first, talk later in the beginning. Also, Lex and Driggs sniping is one of the great joys of my life. They are so snarky, it’s beautiful.

    Credit for bananaballs goes to Kat Dennings as Darcy in Thor 2, apparently she improved the line because she is brilliant and amazing. Trivia is fun.

  5. Shelly

    Woah I’ve heard amazing things about this one but I feel the urge to go and buy this book RIGHT NOW. It sounds so good with humour, some love/hate romance and grim reaperness. Sign me up! I am a hardcore shipper (I will probably ship anything that moves) and I’m so glad to hear that there’s ships in this one. Awesome review and I definitely need to read this one! 🙂
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    • Meg

      I will probably ship anything that moves <— this has hit my funny bone in the exact right spot.

      YOU SHOULD TOTALLY READ IT! Spoiler alert, the rest of the series just gets better.

  6. Sydney

    I love love love humor novels with a paranormal twist to them, which means I’ll be picking this up from the library ASAP. I probably wouldn’t have thought to pick this up if I saw it, but after reading your review I’m totally prepared to jump on board and see what it’s about. (Truth be told, I hadn’t heard of it before reading this review (which made me LOL), but now I must read it.)
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    YES YES YES TO THE CROAK LOVE. I haven’t read this one in soooo long but with the third book out, it seems like my friends have all read this!

    I never thought of the humor comparison to Brennan — but I totally, totally see it. Less angry, but the humor is similar. I do think Unspoken might have the edge on funny, as far as the first novels in the series go. Does that make sense? I hope so. If not, just read it and understand what I meant, ok? Wordsing is hard.

    Adnd can we all just form a Mort Appreciation Society? Cause, honestly, who isn’t going to want to be in that? Mort is cool. Mort is the best. Though I always think of Voldy when I read his name. But that’s my issue, not yours. HP FOREVER IN EVERYTHING ALWAYS YES

    “From the moment they punched each other in the face, I had boarded and declared myself captain of their ship. ”
    I am definitely your first mate on this business. I ship it so hard.

    • Meg Morley


      The extreme quippiness is what made me think of SRB, I agree that Unspoken may be more laugh out loud, but I don’t know. I’d have to reread both…for science. Either way, wordsing is hard and I totally followed what you are saying. Either we are weird in the same way or this made total sense. I could make a strong case for either.

      I WOULD LIKE TO JOIN YOUR MORT APPRECIATION SOCIETY. Mort is the best. I love everything he did/does/will do. SAME WITH LEX/DRIGGS.

  8. 2014: Year of the Buggery | Cuddlebuggery Book Blog

    […] Croak by Gina Damico While you may think I’m cheating again, I am not because the series concluded this year and my thoughts apply to the whole thing. It seems like the Croak books haven’t received a ton of attention and they totally deserve it. Damico lures you in with laughter and then sucker punches you in the heart. These books need more love guys, they are love deficient. […]

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