Croak is a dark, humorous, and exciting read. You follow Lex through her journey to become grim reaper. After acting out in school numerous times over the past year, Lex’s parents have finally had enough. They send her to her uncle’s “farm” for the summer in hopes that the fresh air and manual labor will knock some since into her, but little do they know that a farm isn’t where Lex is heading at all. Croak is a town of grim reapers and Lex is the newest recruit. Lex unexpectedly falls in love with this strange world and finds a place for herself there. Everything is working out great until a group of explained deaths start occurring implying that there is a grim gone bad out there who needs to be stopped. But the only people dying are bad guys (sex offenders, dirty cops, child abusers, and the like), so Lex isn’t quite sure whether they should stop the murder or join the bandwagon and help.
I really enjoyed this book. The first half had me laughing so hard I cried and the mystery of the second half kept me coming back for more. When I first saw the cover and read the synopsis, my first thought was “ooo, this will be like Dead Like Me (an old Showtime series)” and it didn’t disappoint. Though it differs greatly from that show, Lex did remind me quite a bit of Georgia. I liked Lex instantly. She is queen of the misfits and as such she has no friends (except for her loyal twin Cordy) and is on the brink of expulsion from school. I adored her violent reaction to almost every situation and the fact that her parents literally tied her to a chair to tell her about sending her away for the summer. As far as the other characters go, I liked most of them. Driggs, though not my favorite leading man, was a good character who made me smile a lot. I also really liked Uncle Mort and all the dead characters in the afterlife. Edgar Allan Poe makes several appearances as does several dead presidents. I wasn’t too crazy about the group of Junior Grims that Lex & Driggs hang out with. They were okay, but felt a bit one dimensional to me.
My major issue was the ending. Now admittedly, I saw part of it coming and I was pretty certain there would be a cliffhanger, but I was hoping to be proved wrong. I wasn’t. I didn’t feel like it was too bad of a cliffhanger (on a scale of 1 to 10, it’d probably be a 5 or 6), but I still have to rant about it on fucking principle. Seriously, why is this a damn necessity for YA authors? And yes I single them out because they seem to be the only ones writing that way. Is there a secret newsletter locked up somewhere out there from the publishers encouraging all YA authors to end all their novels badly in order to boost sales for the sequels? I have news, this tactic is cheap and underhanded and I despise it. It’s one thing when tv shows that are on every week gives us cliffhangers because the longest we have to wait for those is a scant few months, but some authors take YEARS between novels. It’s bullshit.
Back to the good bits. The writing style is very clever and amusing. I find humor to be a very important part of any novel I read and if I judged books on humor content alone, this would have gotten 5 stars. Between the witty banter and the hilarious names of the shops in Croak (example: the flower shop is called Pushing Daisies), I was in heaven. Another good point is there was no love triangle, just Lex trying to come to grips with the unbelievable conclusion that she might actually be a normal teenage girl in one way, she likes a boy. OOOOOOOO.
Generally, if cliffhangers don’t drive you over the edge like they do me and you are looking for a book that will keep you enthralled, this is the one for you. If cliffhangers piss you off, still read it, but wait a year or two so the rest of the books can be released.