Series: Croak #3
Publication Date: September 10, 2013
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 324 (ARC)
Source: From Publisher for Review
Lex is a teenage Grim Reaper with the power to Damn souls, and it’s getting out of control. 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.
I'm going to start of this review by saying that this was absolutely, without a doubt, one of the best endings to a beloved series that I have ever read. It kept me on my toes, it was unexpected, it made me laugh and cry and smile all at once. And it made me swell with emotion. At this point in time I'd like to consider Gina Damico a friend, and while it's never a good thing for a friend to make another friend cry the way she made me cry, I think I can forgive her this time (I now bestow you with a Wink of Trust).
Damico's signature hilariousness guided us through this one. It was plentiful and, as always, it was sheer perfection. I think that one of the hardest things to do is make a reader literally laugh out loud. I'm not talking about simply cracking a smile at a joke or acknowledging its hilarity, but being entertained so much that you legitimately laugh and have all of those people around you look at you like you're wearing a pair of the craziest crazypants to ever craze.
Isn't that lovely? I just pulled a Driggs! Gina Damico seems to have this wonderful ability down and it always makes her books enjoyable. But while books one and two were simply great, book three has surpassed both and is so incredible that it has received the honor of a permanent place among my ultimate favorites. And this is, in large part, due to the masterful plot full of unexpected twists that was made all the more masterful by the aforementioned dry humor that I love so dearly.
Picking up exactly where book two left off, we watch our beloved band of Croakers go through some seriously powerful soul-searching while trying to rid the world of evil. The evolution of so many of our teens was amazing. They grew strong and questioned right and wrong, left and right. Lex, specifically, matured immensely in the sense that she embraced her leadership role and all the previous wrongs she committed full throttle. She felt guilt, she felt triumph, and she rolled with it. We learn a lot about Driggs and his character arc was a favorite of mine. Ferbus, as always, was a huge source of entertainment and his interactions with everyone, especially Elysia and their shared love of mini golf courses, never ceased to make me laugh. From Pip and Bang to Pandora to Marvelous Uncle Mort and his potential romance, I was truly invested in these characters. Which is why every time they hurt, I hurt. Every time they triumphed, I soared alongside them. And every time they were let down I took to twitter to
abuse love Gina with horrid caps locks updates until I was happy again.
With that being said, they're all still teenagers. They have the concept of banter down pat and they're emotions can be slightly erratic. A certain quote from Grotton comes to mind...
"Ugh, the children are emoting again."
Right they are, buddy, right they are. But it's perfection whether you like it or not! I know I'm not supposed to like you, but your sarcasm speaks to my soul. If an author can make you like a villain somehow, you've got an author to stick with. Villains are perhaps the hardest people to forge connections with, yet it's possible with Grotton!
ROGUE easily kept me on my toes. I never saw half the twists coming. I got the distinct feeling that every single chapter was practically its own mini story that always ended in a cliff-hanger. And I hate cliffies, but this was the perfect way to keep me turning the pages as if Norwood and his crazy minions were hot on my heels. The pacing was superb and I truly sit here completely satisfied. I could not have asked for a better book plot-wise. While book two promised adventure and epic battles that would ultimately and unfortunately end in deaths, I could not have imagined the true extent of Damico's genius until I turned the last page and was completely dumbstruck by it all.
But the ending...Don't even get me started! While it was so powerful and perfect, part of me wishes it turned out differently while the other part of me is overwhelmed with hope and satisfaction on unexplainable levels. This book contained the utmost of sacrifices and watching some of these characters on such a journey was a gift and pleasure. The tears flowed and the smiles surfaced and, in the end, I could not ask for anything to change. You know you have a powerful attachment if you cry, and if a book can make you cry you know you have a gem on your hands.
Gina Damico, thank you so much for giving this series to us. I loved every minute on this wild and wicked journey. And while I am sad to see Lex, Driggs, Uncle Mort the potential game-show host, and the rest of the gang go, I look forward to all other works that you have in store for us. One thing's for sure: hilariousness is bound to ensue.
Warning: my one qualm with this series is the recommended age group. It's recommended for kids aged twelve and up. I think slightly older kids should read it. There is both natural swearing and then Gina's entertaining made-up swears. There is sexual innuendo, the daily struggle of teens trying to figure out those devilish bra clasps, sexual situations, drinking of Yorick's which is an alcoholic beverage, death, graphic violence, the mention of drugs and gangs, torture, and people alluding to suicide. While none of it is that bothersome to me, I don't think some 12 year old's could handle it all.
FTC Disclaimer: I did not receive any type of compensation in exchange for my honest review.