Book Two of the Croak series
By Gina Damico
Available now from Graphia (Houghton Mifflin)
I am not a fan of reading series out of order, but I made an exception this time. I want to read Gina Damico's debut CROAK, but none of the local libraries have it. But I still went ahead and took the opportunity to review SCORCH since CROAK sounded so awesome. Teenage grim reapers are right up my alley.
When SCORCH begins, heroine Lex is not in a great place. Her ability to Damn souls was stolen by Zara (although Lex seems to still be able to use it, if uncontrollably). Zara is now going about killing bad people, but she started by killing Lex's twin sister. The older residents of Croak, a community of grim reapers, now distrust the Juniors and their mentor Mort - who also happens to be the mayor and Lex's uncle.
I felt like I figure out the swing of things pretty fast, even though there are a large number of characters. I never figured out some things, like why all the grim reapers used to be delinquents, but most everything made sense. Some Grim Reapers are Killers, others are Cullers, and they work together to escort souls to the afterlife and prevent them from becoming ghosts.
SCORCH was as funny as I expected. But this came at a price. Even considering Lex can visit her sister, she doesn't seem all that sad or angry about the murder. It's a sharp contrast to Lex's heartbroken parents when they make a brief appearance. Plus, SCORCH gets pretty dark at times. This is a book with a body count. But Lex always bounces back instantly, although the ending of SCORCH may make her face consequences more.
I also felt that the politics in Croak didn't entirely work. The people turn on Uncle Mort pretty fast, despite the fact his opponents are obviously slimy and incompetent. What am I saying, politics are captured perfectly in the story. I did like the fellow grim reaper city of DeMyse, where people live high and fast but at a price.
I liked SCORCH, but I wish I had been able to read CROAK first. I prefer to have the full experience. SCORCH was fun enough that I'll probably make an effort to make up the next book in the series. (Plus, SCORCH ends on a cliffhanger and I would like to see it resolved.)