Author: Gina Damico
Length: 311 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Rating: 4 starsSixteen-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.
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? -Goodreads
If I had to describe this story in one word...it would be SNARKY. This is definitely not your 'warm and fuzzy trip into the white light' kind of read.
After the putting up with Lex's rage and atti-TUDE for the first third of the book, seeing her unable to find her feet for a while as she learns the ropes in the world of CROAK was a welcome change. Where her wicked ways made her stand out in the world before; in CROAK she managed to be one of the good ones.
Lex manages for all of her bluster to have a really good heart and no matter how hard she tries to cover it; her nobility, strength, and need for justice shines through.
Driggs was the perfect match for Lex and it was good to see that she was going to have in him a counterpart who could give as well as he got in the SNARK department. Though they did not start out liking each other,
it was more than clear that the attraction was there. As much as the build up to a great romance makes the romance sweeter in most cases; what was supposed to be the culmination of their coming together was losst after the first kiss.
The setting as provided by the town of CROAK provided the perfect Tim Burtonesque darkness that a story like this calls for. The not quite rightness of the bar and the non-drinking age sets the stage for the murder, mayhem, and mystery of the plot. The bleakness of the background allows the gravity of some of the teen's issues to shine through.