Book Review: Croak by Gina Damico

Posted April 3, 2015 by Renae // 4 Comments

Book Review: Croak by Gina Damico

Title: Croak (Croak #1)
Author: Gina Damico
Release Date: March 20, 2012
Publisher: HMH Children's Books

Summary from Goodreads:

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?

It’s not that Croak was bad so much that is was just…nothing special. It certainly had its moments, of course, but I finished Gina Damico’s debut feeling rather unenthused. There weren’t any real surprises is in this book, and the prose was only so-so. Basically, this book is simply okay.

I really felt like a lot of this book was pretty standard. Unique teen girl, superpowers, some monologuing bad dude trying to ruin everything, and then it turns out the protagonist has the most special of all the special powers. Yawn. The grim reaper aspect might be new, but nothing else about Croak is. Damico just runs over oft-written plot threads and hopes that a snarky narrative style will make it all work. But it doesn’t.

Nothing about this book really jumped out to me; it’s completely forgettable and not emotionally arresting. Beyond her outer layer of sarcasm and “bad girl” vibes, there really didn’t seem to be much substance to Lex. I wouldn’t go so far as to say she’s a flat character, but neither did she have the nuance of reality. Likewise, her family situation stretched my limits of believability to their limit, and Lex’s assorted new friends in the town of Croak were tagged quite well, but not given much depth beyond that. I felt that it was shoddy work.

The plot of Croak is slightly dull as well. Like the rest of the book, it’s all very standard, going towards a direction that’s easy to discern for any reader who has even the slightest experience with fiction of the YA paranormal variety. The final confrontation with the Big Bad was singularly stale, I felt.

Overall, this was a very uninspired read for me. I didn’t get much out of it, and though it was enjoyable in some spots, I didn’t finish with any warm and fuzzy feelings towards Croak, and neither did I have much of a desire to continue on with the next two installments. Unfortunately, this book was more of a miss for me than anything else.

Renae has written book reviews and other miscellany for Respiring Thoughts since 2012. She loves dogs, Mexican food, mountains, Shakespeare, and procrastinating. She's currently working on an undergrad degree in English/Spanish lit in the Midwest. Connect with Renae on Twitter, Goodreads, and Tumblr.

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4 responses to “Book Review: Croak by Gina Damico

  1. Man, I came here thinking I’d have a lot to say because I didn’t really enjoy this one either, but basically everything about the book has completely slipped my mind. I barely remember anything aside from the most basic plot elements and some of the characters’ names. It /was/ wholly unforgettable, which is strange considering how LOVED it is around the blogosphere.

    I know this book was supposed to be both funny and heart-wrenching but I didn’t experience any of that.
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    • Renae

      Seriously! I read this maybe a month ago, and I hardly remember anything about it. For me it just felt so similar to everything else in the genre and it was funny in places, sure, but not THAT funny.