Croak by Gina Damico
Disclaimer: This review first appeared on my GR profile
My rating: 4.5/5 stars
Lex dropped her hands. Unfortunately, Driggs followed suit, affording her the perfect opportunity to kick him in the crotch.
Which she did.
"That... was... unnecessary," he groaned from the ground.
Lex blew a tuft of hair out of her face.
Holy crap. That was awesome! I don't fangirl over a book much (if ever), but Croak was a beautiful little surprise gem that popped up on my newsfeed one too many times and then casually strolled into my basket on Book Depository and hurled itself into my arms when it arrived.
And I haven't put it down since. Usually, it takes me a day and a half to finish a book. Croak took me three days because I was trying to savour every little tidbit. By doing so, my copy ended up looking like this:
In my little universe, yellow sticky labels stand for "funny". In Croak currently reside 50 yellow labels. Divided by the amount of pages, this means something funny happened once every five pages. Do you know how hard it is to pay attention to a book that makes you guffaw like an unattractive goose? Try it, I dare you.
Meet Lex. She's possibly the scariest 16 year old you may hope to never encounter in your lifetime. She's pretty badass, with just the right dose of crazy to spice things up a little:
"You bit him?" Lex's father said.
"He called me a wannabe vampire," she said. "What was I supposed to do?"
For years, Lex has had this insane, pent-up rage that likes to take a stroll across people's faces every once in a while, and she can't control it...
Her outbursts were triggered by the smallest of annoyances, bubbling up from nowhere, no matter how hard she tried to resist them. And worse still, they seemed to grow strong as time went on. By the end of Lex's junior year, every swear word was reverberating at a deafening volume, and each human punching bag lost at least one of his or her permanent bicuspids.
You wanna know why?
She's a Grim.
"Well, technically," said Uncle Mort, "we're called Gamma Removal and Immigration Managers--"
"But are more commonly known as Grims," Driggs said.
And now, her Uncle Mort is going to teach her the trade...
"Lex," he said, "Croak is a portal - one that sits between our world and the next."
A strange noise escaped Lex's lips, something between a stupefied gasp and a dubious snicker. "What?"
"That's why you're here. I'm going to teach you how to do what I do."
"And what is that?"
He leaned in close. She could feel his breath on her face.
"I Kill people."
Dunn dunn DUNNNNNN.
Oh my, it's been a while since I fell in love with a bunch of characters in such an unprofessional, slobbering manner.
We're introduced to Uncle Mort
Sitting atop a black and purple-streaked motorcycle was, in a startling number of details, the exact type of villain depicted in the Never Talk to Strangers! picture book that had been drilled into Lex as a child.
Who is the be-all and end-all of Croak, a small town in the middle of nowhere with hilariously strange names such as PUSHING DAISIES, THE BIG SLEEP and DEAD END, the Main Street.
Then there's Driggs, Uncle Mort's faithful sidekick (in my eyes) who lives across the hall from Lex. Together, they work as partners and develop an unlikely, funny, imbalanced friendship that will warm the cockles of your heart.
Never mind the fact that Driggs is totally swoon-worthy *wink wink* and that there is a TERRIBLE PALPABLE SEXUAL TENSION THAT IS NOT VERY SUBTLE AT ALL
*Lex and Driggs argue blah blah*
But the best thing about this book?
There is only a small, light smidgeon of what we call insta-love. As in, we don't really find out until the end that Driggs is hopelessly in love with Lex.
Oh, that's a spoiler? It's obvious, so shut up.
The relationship had time to grow, to build, so it wasn't awkward, weird and stalkery at all.
Also this book is FUNNY . Have I not mentioned that? Oh, I HAVE? Apologies. In that case, I shall leave you with some favourite quotes and a prayer for you, dear reader, to read this beautiful bundle of words!
"What the-- are you Poe?"
"Regrettably." He sighed, smoothing his pants. "Call me Edgar. Or the Tell-Tale Fart, that's Teddy Roosevelt's favourite." He shot a distasteful glance at the crowd of presidents. "Jerks."
"Don't worry," he said, holding the door open for her. "Time flies when you're breaching the space-time continuum."
"You may have gotten away with this childish, petulant bullshit back home, but I assure you, it's not going to fly here," he said, letting go of her arm. "So I'll cut you a deal: you behave like the mature individual that deep down I know you are, and in turn, you will be treated as such. Sound fair?"