Thursday, November 22, 2012

Review: Scorch (Croak #2), by Gina Damico

Release Date: September 25, 2012
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format: Paperback, 332 pages

From the back of the book:
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.

The following review is based on a copy I purchased with my own hard-earned money.

Review (no spoilers):
I read this quite a long time ago but I want to review it anyway. I absolutely loved Croak and I didn’t get around to reviewing that one so I want to do better this time. I might have left out something awesome due to muddled memory though…

Scorch picks up pretty much right where Croak left off. Lex is a mess after her sister’s death at the hands of Zara, a reaper who has stolen her ability to Damn as well as one of the ‘loopholes’ that allows her to Crash (e.g. scythe to anyplace she wants and basically kill at will and off schedule). Once Lex gets back to Croak with her uncle Mort, many of the locals aren’t exactly happy to see her, blaming her for everything that’s happened and afraid of her abilities. They suspect her of basically going wherever and Damning whoever she wants – and there is plenty of Damning being done by Zara, who seems to be completely out of it. The town turns against pretty much all of the juniors, taking away their freedoms and rights and eventually forcing uncle Mort to abdicate as mayor after a terrorist bomb attack. Everything in me bristled at how they were treated and at the way certain members of the community manipulated everyone else!

Through all of those grim things there was still Gina Damico’s incredible sense of humor to lighten up the gloom and doom. When Lex finally dares to visit her twin sister in the Afterlife, Cordy is not mad at her as she had feared! Instead, she’s travelling and enjoying herself and even managed to snatch a pharaoh as a sort-of-boyfriend. Also, Lex and Driggs continue their relationship, finding ever-new places to make-out without Mort noticing. I really love the snark and dynamics between those two, they always manage to crack me up!

Mort is just plain awesome, definitely one of my favorite character (I hope we get to know more about his past! A novella-flashback thing of Mort as a teen would be cool!). He makes decisions quickly and doesn’t beat around the bush or sugarcoat his words, and he’s ready to flaunt the rules if his moral compass points him that way. When things go south, he grabs the juniors and whirls everyone away to DeMyse (gotta love those Grim town names!) which is basically a grim reaper Las Vegas – glitzy, shrill, way-out-there. It was interesting to see the different effect the city had on the juniors and how they eventually got their act back together.

The last part of the book was incredibly fast-paced as twist after twist was added, secrets exposed, things explained… and injustice after injustice was done to my favorite characters. I really hurt for them, but I also have hope. And that one final plot twist!! I never saw that one coming, I swear, but it’s plain awesome genius! I can’t really say much without spoiling it for everyone.

What I didn’t expect was to feel sorry for Zara at times. I really liked her in the first book before her betrayal was revealed. I sort of hated her then for a moment, but after what she’s been through… I could understand how she got to the place she ended up at. And the times she shows up in Scorch, she’s just so… damaged. As she gets worse and worse I really did feel for her even though she was supposedly the enemy.

Another thing I really enjoyed in the novel was getting to know more about the Grimsphere and how it works. DeMyse is extremely different from Croak and I liked comparing the two. The world-building is really expanded in this book and the problems being a reaper brings with itself (e.g. Lex’s parents, basically having lost two daughters since Lex isn’t around anymore) are not simply left out.

Gina Damico’s books are the perfect combination of humor and dark, deadly themes (don’t read this if you have problem with jokes about death!) and even though my review might make the book look quite heavy, I can’t count the times I laughed out loud while I was reading in public places! I read Scorch in a day, the writing flows really easily and the pace never drags. The characters all gained more depth than in the first book, and by the end, the whole plot is so much ‘bigger’ than I ever expected! Also, you can’t go wrong with a book that has a map in it. I need the next book, which will be called Rogue, asap! In the meantime, check out Gina Damico’s blog because it’s awesome and will give your laughing muscles a workout.

And because I like them so much, here are the trailers for Croak and Scorch:

Have you guys read either of these books? What did you think? Do you like Reaper books in general? Let me know in the comments :)

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