Croak #1. Author: Gina Damico.
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?
There’s an initial premise – reapers – but beyond that, almost no worldbuilding. Where are the consequences of the existence of reapers? How do they change the world? Surely the world isn’t exactly the same as ours except for the existence of hundreds of real Grim Reapers. What details we do get don’t make sense. Some reapers are born with the ability to destroy/damn (it wasn’t clear?) souls. Just. Some random humans are born with godly powers of destruction. Okay…
Lex’s violence, which canonically appeared out of nowhere in her teen years and confuses and disgusts even her, is apparently explained away by her true calling as Reaper. Except… Reapers don’t have to kill anyone violently. They just touch them with one finger, and (through birthright or something) release the soul. In fact, since Reapers are forbidden from going after the murderers they see or trying to right the wrongs they encounter, a penchant to headstrong aggression is the last thing you want in one of them.
It suddenly occurred to both Driggs and Lex, in that very same instant, that neither of them wanted anything more in the world than to tear off every single piece of each other’s clothes and make
wild, passionate, messy adolescent love under the radiant glowof the full moon.” (They do not.) // ““Make up, you two,” Pandora said as they slunk out the door. “At this rate, you’ll never get into each other’s pants.” // “After the dance, one thing leads to another, my underwear ends up in a ditch somewhere, and next thing you know, I’m pregnant.” – Girl talking about her backstory.
Language: 30 scatological terms, 24 d***, 15 hell, 7 derogatory terms.
Violence: Two characters punch each other in the face. Character sees large, three-car wreck on the highway as they pass. One character says another character bit a boy on the arm and it’s probably going to scar. One character kicks another between the legs. Character sees the destruction/damnation of a soul (?) – it’s clearly intensely painful for the person, and when they die their body bursts into flames; we’re informed that the soul will never reach the afterlife. The Reapers ‘portal’ into the moment of death to reap the soul, so there are many scenes of frozen (time is frozen, nothing is happening) death through the book. Some are old age or heart attack; some of them are bloody murders, or a plane accident.