Author: Gina Damico. Release date: 2012. Publisher: Graphia. ISBN: 9780547624570.
Annotation: Now that Zara has stolen her power to Damn, Lex has become an outcast in Croak, with the townspeople all convinced that she is responsible for the murderous rampage that Zara is now on. With Croak no longer safe, Lex and her friends must travel to the DeMyse, the Las Vegas of the Grimsphere, to escape Zara and learn more about a mysterious book that might put an end to Zara’s killing spree.
Personal thoughts: I absolutely loved Croak, so I was super excited to pick up the sequel and continue with the fun and laughs. Unfortunately, I didn’t experience very many of either when I was reading Scorch. The storyline was very bleak, and I felt like everything whimsical and enjoyable about Croak just wasn’t present. I still like the characters and think that there is potential for the author to improve, but Scorch was a bit of a sophomore slump for me.
Plot summary: After Zara stole her power to Damn souls to an eternity of torment, Lex has become an outcast in Croak. The townspeople don’t seem to understand that Zara killed Lex’s sister, Cordy, to get to her and that she never meant for her power to transfer to Zara; they only know that Zara is on a murderous rampage and that Lex is responsible. Determined to put a stop to Zara’s killing spree, Lex, her friends, and Uncle Mort begin to research the Wrong Book, a mysterious text that is held in an impenetrable cabin in the woods surrounding Croak that holds the key to some of the Grimsphere’s most elusive secrets. The only problem? Zara wants the Wrong Book for herself and begins Damning innocent people around the country, convinced that Lex has the book in her possession and is hiding it from her. With the townspeople getting more and more hostile and the threat of an attack from Zara looming, Lex and her friends decide to travel to DeMyse, the Las Vegas of the Grimsphere. There they hope to learn more about the Wrong Book and stay safe long enough to figure out if the information it contains can put an end to Zara’s reign of terror.
Review: Picking up where the first book left off, Scorch, the second installment in Gina Damico’s Croak series, proves to be a decent sequel to what was a stellar beginning in the previous novel. While the author does a lot to expand the world she created in Croak, introducing new characters, backstories and locations, a lot of what made Croak such an enjoyable novel is, unfortunately, absent. The dry humor that permeated the first book is almost completely gone, replaced with a storyline full of tension as Lex and her life in the quirky town of Croak crumble. The plot is far more serious in Scorch, with Zara, the surprise antagonist in Croak, going around the country murdering innocent people. The town of Croak itself, which played a big part in the first novel, is also replaced by various new locations, such as DeMyse, a shallow, Las Vegas-esque city run by an over-the-top mayor. Some of the relationships begun in Croak are expanded, particularly that between Lex and her boyfriend Driggs, but the majority of the novel is dedicated to Lex’s life getting worse and worse as Zara wreaks havoc on the Grimsphere. Overall, Scorch is not nearly as fun as Croak, but the series still has lots of potential, especially since the author does a good job of world-building and creating a storyline that can carry through to another novel. Hopefully the third novel, Rogue, can continue the series in a positive direction when it is released September 10, 2013.
Reading level: Grade 8+
Similar titles: Croak by Gina Damico, Anna Dressed in Blood and Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake, Revenants series by Amy Plum, Soul Screamers series by Rachel Vincent.
Themes: Grim reapers, the afterlife, murder, revenge, death, danger, secrets.
Awards/Reviews: Positive review from Kirkus and School Library Journal.
Series Information: Second installment in Croak series. First installment, Croak, released in 2012. Third installment, Rogue, set to be released September 10, 2013.
- Do you agree with Zara using her powers to Damn criminals, even if it wasn’t their time to die? Why or why not?
- Why do you think Lex became an outcast in Croak after Zara stole her powers?
- Do you think Cordy is happy in the Afterlife? Why or why not?
- Why do you think Zara wants the Wrong Book so much?
- Do you agree with the decision Leroy made to keep DeMyse safe? Why or why not?
- How would you explain what happened to Driggs at the end of the novel?
- What would you like to see happen in the third novel, Rogue?