What I Loved:
Today I shall exhort you to begin reading Gina Damico's Croak series, assuming you haven't already. If you stop by here often, then you probably know that I'm pretty stingy with my 5 star ratings, giving them out only in cases where a book has made me an emotional mess, sucked me in so much I forget the real world, AND been, from my limited perspective, unimpeachable in quality. Most series go out with more of a whimper than a bang, but, in this case, the finale is the strongest book in the series, which is why I am going to fangirl as hard as I can, and encourage all of you with good senses of humor to read this as soon as possible.
From Croak onward, Gina Damico has excelled at humor and narrative voice. She writes a mixture of black comedy and straight up silliness that I find positively enchanting. The sort of people who enjoy television shows like Dead Like Me and Pushing Daisies simply MUST read this series. Her style has a really unique flair. She chooses really weird terms or phrasing at times, but somehow they're completely perfect for the moment. A good example is her creativity in coming up with swear words. Ordinarily, I find invented swear words in novels irritating, rather than amusing or clever, but Damico's are perfection and likely to enter my actual vocabulary. Here are some examples: "shitballs," "everdeathing," and "douchecrate." While probably not to everyone's tastes, if those make you giggle, it's a sign that Damico's writing is meant for you.
However, there's more than just humor in this series. Though Croak is, so far as my memory can recall, largely a darkly comic fluffy book, with a bit of intensity right at the end, both Scorch and Rogue have far more serious moments. In Scorch, they weren't quite as well balanced and that ended up being my least favorite in the series. By Rogue, Damico's got it down, handling serious moments with proper seriousness, making me want to cry, and then lightening the mood on the next page so that I'm grinning like an idiot. It's a bit of an emotional roller coaster, with much of the comedy being of the sort to help keep them moving in the face of overwhelming odds.
The characters all sparkle with wit, vivacity and uniqueness. I love each and every one of them, basically, though Mort is my special favorite and going on my book boyfriend list. Gina Damico writes banter between characters like no one else. All of the grim reapers in their little group make fun of one another constantly, but there is real love underneath that, so completely evident through it all. Even better, Damico doesn't neglect the supporting cast at all. In fact, by book three, there almost isn't a supporting cast because they're all so important to the plot and accomplishing what must be done. There's an ending for all of the characters you've come to love, whether happy or sad, and it's not just about Lex and Driggs, who I do ship something fierce by the way.
Since I'm not going to delve into any spoilers for the series, I'll keep this high level and relatively brief (for me anyway). The last thing I need to say is that Damico has guts. She steps outside of traditional YA lines and takes big risks. The stakes are high and she kills a lot of characters, with rather a Whedonesque flair. She gets the utmost respect from me for that. The series also abounds with twists, some of which I called and some which totally blindsided me, all combining to make a wholly engrossing and emotional reading experience.
The Final Verdict:
Gina Damico's Croak series is officially ranked among my favorite books ever, and rereads in the future will be essential. As of this writing, Damico has another book deal for a book called Hellhole about a devil, and I'm already wondering who I have to do what to in order to be able to read that ASAP. So, friends, if you have a similar taste in humor, then you want this in your life. Trust me. If you don't trust me, why are you here?