Expected publication: March 20th 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Sixteen-year-old Lex Bartleby has sucker-punched her last classmate. Fed up with her punkish, wild behavior, her 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 that of shoveling manure.
He’s a Grim Reaper. And he’s going to teach her the family business.
Lex quickly assimilates into the peculiar world of Croak, a town populated entirely by reapers who deliver souls from this life to the next. Along with her infuriating yet intriguing partner Driggs and a rockstar crew of fellow Grim apprentices, Lex is soon zapping her Targets like a natural born Killer.
Croak is another fun book. It seems I've been reading a lot of those lately, and I'm still not tired of them.
Yet her innate ability morphs into an unchecked desire for justice—or is it vengeance?—whenever she’s forced to Kill a murder victim, craving to stop the attackers before they can strike again. So when people start to die—that is, people who aren’t supposed to be dying, people who have committed grievous crimes against the innocent—Lex’s curiosity is piqued. Her obsession grows as the bodies pile up, and a troubling question begins to swirl through her mind: if she succeeds in tracking down the murderer, will she stop the carnage—or will she ditch Croak and join in?
Lex is definitely a unique character. She's not a hardcore delinquent, but she's rebellious enough to stand out from other YA characters - and other teenagers in general. She's funny and sarcastic, but curious and serious when she needs to be. She's just a great character altogether.
What's really amazing is the way Lex changes throughout the book. In the beginning, she's so dead-set against moving to Croak. She's kind of whiny and grumpy about it. But her character grows so much throughout the book - she learns that she can't do everything on her own, and she learns to think of Croak as her home, becomes a dedicated Reaper. The way she matures throughout the book is something I haven't seen very much of lately.
The secondary characters add so much to the story. Lex's Uncle Mort is by far my favorite - he's a very memorable character. Funny and sometimes dramatic, he's not someone you could forget about while reading. Driggs is also another great secondary character - and his meeting with Lex and was possibly my favorite moment of the book simply because it's so funny. Drigg and Lex's interactions throughout the book are addicting and add so much to the story - whether it's something funny or something serious.
Croak seemed to me like it might be predictable, at first. But once I got into it, it definitely threw me for a few loops with its twists. I love that a fun book like this can still surprise me even while it's entertaining me.
Overall: Croak is a funny novel with the perfect amount mystery in it. With entertaining yet dedicated characters, it's definitely a novel you don't want to miss out on. 4 stars.
[And yes, I was purposely vague. I'm determined to make you all go out and buy this.]