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Croak Paperback – March 20, 2012

139 customer reviews

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Croak + Scorch (Croak) + Rogue (Croak)
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Editorial Reviews Review

Amazon Exclusive: So You Want To Reap Some Souls: A Grim's Checklist

by Mort Bartleby, Mayor of Croak

Gina Damico

Think you've got what it takes to be a Grim? Well, you, my friend, are delusional. But for the moment, let's pretend that you're remotely qualified to join the ranks of the Grimsphere. Before you set out on your first shift you must take stock of your supplies, as there are a few things no Killer or Culler can reap without:


Made out of rock, gem, or mineral, each handheld scythe is tailored specifically to the Grim who wields it. The Swiss Army Knife of the Grimsphere, your scythe will allow you to gain access to the ether, instantly travel across the country, and breach the space-time continuum faster than you can say "space-time continuum."

Standard issue black hoodie

Lightweight, durable, thermoregulated, and stylish, the black hoodie is the Grim's uniform of choice. Not only is it comfortable, but its pockets can hold dozens of souls. Plus, it makes a statement. (That statement is: I kill people.)


You're going to need something to put all those souls in. (You didn't think you'd just shove them into your hoodie pocket like loose change, did you? What is this, amateur hour?) Vessels are the best tools for the job--small white orbs spun from the fibers of a black widow spider; they're strong enough to protect souls from the harshest conditions.


A metal band worn around the wrist that is used to communicate with other Grims. No touch screen, no ringtones, no apps. Just cold hard iron.

Your partner

Reaping souls is a two-person job. The Killer releases the soul from the dead body, and the Culler collects that soul and places it into a Vessel. You partner is the person you will be with for ten hours a day, seven days a week. You will get to know them better than anyone you've ever met. You will be able to finish each other's sentences. You will know what the other person is thinking before they think it. But you will not fall in love with them. No matter how dreamy their eyes may be.

And above all, a strong stomach

I'll not mince words. As a Grim, you will see decapitations. Disembowlings. Amputations. Explosions. Cancer. Drownings. Fires. Car wrecks. Poison. Stabbings. And more blood than you've ever thought possible.

So. You in?


Praise for Croak

"Go ahead and die laughing, knowing that the safe transport of your mortal soul will be the summer job of a sweetheart teen with godlike power and discipline problems. A lot of books make me wish I could live within their pages, but I wouldn't mind dying in this one."
Adam Rex, author of Fat Vampire

"Creepy and hilarious."
VOYA, 4Q, 5P

Praise for Scorch

"An amusing blend of whimsy and humor with serious drama and blood."
Kirkus Reviews

"Characters are always as clever as we wish we were. . . . An irresistible blend of impending doom, irreverent humor, hormone-fueled make-out sessions, and creative world-building make this sequel stronger than its predecessor and will leave readers dying for the next book."
School Library Journal

Praise for Rogue

"A gut-wrenching, laugh-out-loud, gritty, honest and brave ending to an appealing trilogy."


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 770L (What's this?)
  • Series: Croak
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (March 20, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547608322
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547608327
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (139 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #108,629 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I grew up under four feet of snow in Syracuse, New York. I received a degree in theater and sociology from Boston College, and I have since worked as a tour guide, transcriptionist, theater house manager, scenic artist, movie extra, office troll, retail monkey, yarn hawker and breadmonger. I am the author of the grim-reapers-gone-wild books of the Croak trilogy (Croak, Scorch, and Rogue), published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and the upcoming Hellhole (January 2015). I live in Western Massachusetts with my husband, two cats, one dog, and while I have never visited hell in person, I have spent countless waking hours at the Albany Regional Bus Terminal, which is pretty darn close.

Check out my website at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
If you need to catch a breath after epic YA reads like THE HUNGER GAMES and READY PLAYER ONE, if you're looking for something lighter in tone, maybe something fraught with the sassy, then Gina Damico has got the remedy. CROAK is her debut novel, and it's promising enough that I'm down for its upcoming sequel (titled SCORCH).

Damico takes a huge risk that readers won't sympathize with her central character, and, no, I'm not sure the risk pans out. 16-year-old New Yorker Lex Bartleby is hard to like. Once a straight A student and sweet and sunny, two years ago, unfathomably, she underwent a troubling change. Today, in her austere black hoodie, Lex terrorizes her fellow students as the school bully. When her latest transgression (biting a classmate) lands her in the principal's office, her parents have had enough. They ship Lex off to upstate New York to stay at her weird Uncle Mort's farm for the summer, hoping that hard work will impact her positively.

Except that farming isn't Uncle Mort's occupation. In the peculiar village of Croak, which happens to be a portal to the Afterlife, Mort is only one in a thriving population of Grim Reapers, and he aims to groom his niece in the family business. Luckily, Lex already has a black hoodie which, as it turns out, is the everyday uniform of a Grim.

Apparently, nursing anger management issues qualifies one for the Junior Reaper gig. One is even handed a mystic scythe. Lex learns she has an affinity for extracting a soul from its corpse. And, to her surprise, she finds herself fitting into Croak's unconventional community and bonding with her teenaged peers, all of whom are Junior Grims harboring a troubled past. And what's YA lit without teen romance?
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Becky and Jim review TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 7, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Lex's family cannot deal with her anymore, she's angry, lashing out (figuratively and literally getting into fights), her school wants to expel her, her classmates are afraid of her, and Lex doesn't even know why she's acting so horrible. Her parents solution is to send her to her Uncle Mort's for the summer. Lex leaves her twin sister and parents reluctantly, only to find out Uncle Mort is a lot stranger than anyone realized.

The story could be cheesy, grim reapers in training, death, souls, the afterlife, but instead Gina Damico has created an interesting world, one in which Lex finally fits in, after a few false starts. The supporting characters are interesting and well fleshed out, from Uncle Mort (who has a lot more back story that will probably come out in sequels), to Driggs, and the other reapers.

Croak is full of dark humor but without falling into the usual traps of teenage romances and girls suddenly finding they have magical powers without consequences. Teens and older people will enjoy this book. I left it in the bathroom and my 56 year old husband read it and enjoyed it. The writing is good enough to appeal to a broad audience age wise, using unusual surroundings and making the supernatural believable.

The book does end on a cliffhanger, but it was complete enough, it wasn't one of those "she's hanging off the mountain" perils of Pauline cliffhangers, just a larger arc that will continue into the second book. I will definitely be buying book two. I went to the author page to see if Ms. Damico had written any other books but she hasn't, I hope she is a fast writer, can't wait to find out what happens next in Croak.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By melreads on May 10, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The premise of this book is cool. The character designs sound neat (who doesn't love a motorcycle-riding, weird experimental sciencist, take-it-in-stride, Actually, I Own This Town uncle named Mort?), but unfortunately, by the middle of the book, every single character was exactly the same. I mean it; they all used the same phrases, seemed to react to everything in the same way, and I had to keep backtracking to the intro scenes to try and remember who was who. Not that they aren't physically diverse, and we're told over and over that they have different personalities. For example, one girl is described as a chatterbox. Whenever she starts talking, people roll their eyes and try to interrupt her and make jokes about how much she talks. But if you actually go through and compare how long her little speeches are compared to when literally anyone else in the book talks...well, she probably soliloquies less - mostly because she gets interrupted constantly.

The only people who are in any way distinguishable are the two bullies in Croak, and it's sort of hilarious that a grown man and grown woman seem to live for the moments when they can stalk up to a group of teenagers and call them 'stupid.' that's it. That's all they do. They are ugly and they glare a lot and they are virtually identical in everything but name and gender, and all they do, despite ostensibly being very important upper management, is show up at odd moments when the teenagers are sitting in a diner or in a park or whatever, and call them all idiots and slackers. And then the heroine says something that isn't really witty but everyone reacts like it's a TOTAL BURN, DUDE, and the bullies stomp off, defeated.

The plot about the people dying of unknown causes (which is a problem when you're a reaper and it's your job to know the cause) isn't too boring or predictable, I'll give it that. But by the middle of the book, I just couldn't be bothered to care.
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