Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Hooked on a series: Croak Trilogy @ginadamico

The Croak Trilogy, Gina Damico

LIFE'S NOT FAIR. WHY SHOULD DEATH BE ANY DIFFERENT?
Sixteen-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?

THE DEADER, THE BETTER.
Croak used to be the only place where Lex, a teenage Grim Reaper, felt like she fit in. but after she
let the murderous Zara get away--and inadvertently transferred her ability to Damn souls to her on top of that--Lex is a pariah in the little town full of Grims. Her Junior Grim friends have stood by her, but that has only made them outcasts. Meanwhile, Zara is still out there Damning innocents, and no one is safe. It's up to Lex's Uncle Mort, mayor of Croak, to protect the townspeople. But when tragedy strikes, the Grims rise up against him, too.

To escape their wrath, Mort takes Lex and the other Juniors on a wild road trip to DeMyse, a glitzy Grim city, where they can hide out until the chaos in Croak subsides. Though this sparkling desert oasis is full of luxuries and amusements, Lex wants nothing more than to return to her simple little town and the good graces of its citizens. Her best chance at that would be to stop Zara once and for all--but how can she do that from DeMyse, where the Grims seem mysteriously oblivious to Zara's killing spree? Lex needs to track down the secret book that would make Zara even more dangerous. But she has no idea of the chilling lengths her nemesis will go to in order to find it first. 

WHAT COMES AFTER THE AFTERLIFE?
Teenage Grim Reaper Lex’s power to Damn souls is getting out of control. Her boyfriend, Driggs, is
dead . . . sort of. She's a fugitive, on the run from the maniacal new mayor of Croak and the townspeople who want to see her pay the price for her misdeeds. Uncle Mort rounds up the Junior Grims to flee Croak once again, but this time they're joined by Grotton, the most powerful Grim of all time. Their new mission is clear: fix his mistakes, or the Afterlife will cease to exist, along with all the souls in it.

The gang heads for Necropolis, the labyrinth-like capital city of the Grimsphere. There, they discover that the Grimsphere needs a reboot. To do that, the portals to the Afterlife must be destroyed...but even that may not be enough to fix the damage. Things go from bad to worse, and when at last the fate of the Afterlife and all the souls of the Damned hang in the balance, it falls to Lex and her friends to make one final, impossible choice. 

REVIEW:

For all good fans of YA series, finding one that sucks you in and spits you into an all consuming world of awesome just plain rocks.  And it isn't as easy as it sounds.  The YA market has gotten flooded with series about vampires, shifters, angels and demons, ghosts and ghouls and all sorts of things that go bump in the night, with a quick goodnight kiss (its YA after all....).  However, many stories feel like deja vu and for those of us with short attention spans, both adolescent and adult, it's hard to read the same thing over and over.  Imagine your surprise then when a series hits that chord - new, different, exciting and a little bit off center.  Perfection!

Gina Damico writes with dark humor and creative world-building that ranks up there with the "best of the best".  For a reader who generally loathes the first installment in a series because it either gives too much information too fast or not enough and loses you, The Croak Trilogy captivates from the first pages and never lets go through the harrowing ride of all three novels. Grim Reapers, with their Killers and Cullers, are just plain cool.  And the roller coaster pace and regular "shocking moments" kept this reader up way past bedtime.  

Perhaps one of the best parts of YA series are the ensemble casts that hearken back to those Scooby gang days (ala Buffy the Vampire Slayer series on TV).  Having more than one central character - although, undoubtedly Grim Reaper Lexington Bartleby is the heroine of all three tales, helps to distribute the drama, angst and literal pain these grim reapers experience while battling for the "right side".

It should be noted that I listened to this series on Audible while driving all over the planet running work and mom errands and nearly ran off the road several times the story was so captivating. Jessica Almasy has a presence when reading YA stories that is pitch perfect and greatly compliments the already stellar writing.  I highly recommend listening to this series - I guarantee the need to download the next installment while the previous one is still playing!  



Full of plot twists only to be found in good YA stories (and the Game of Thrones series), the Croak Trilogy promises readers the action, adventure and first loves and delivers page after page. While I am not completely sold on the afterlife being surrounded by sticky white cotton candy-like substances, I do approved highly of the common man hobnobbing with brilliant minds, kings and camels.  Trust me on this one, YA fans, you won't be disappointed.



RATING: I give this Ultimate Indulgence FIVE Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries and a big handful of oreos and frozen pizza! 

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