Sixteen-year-old Lex Bartleby is a teenage grim reaper with the bizarre ability to damn souls. That makes her pretty scary, even to fellow Grims. But after inadvertently transferring her ability to Zara, a murderous outlaw, Lex is a pariah in Croak, the little town she calls home. To escape the townspeople’s wrath, she and her friends embark on a wild road trip to DeMyse. Though this sparkling desert oasis is full of luxuries and amusements, it feels like a prison to Lex. Her best chance at escape 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?
Paperback, 352 pages
Expected publication: September 25th 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Three and half stars: The stakes are higher in this darker toned sequel.
It has been three weeks since the traumatic revelation of the Croak traitor and murderer. Lex and Uncle Mort are on a cross country road trip to retrieve some new junior recruits. Lex is not okay and her anger simmers inside. She is determined to track down the killer. Once she arrives back in Croak, Lex is relieved to find that Driggs and her friends are still on her side. Unfortunately, the rest of the town seems to be behind two of Croak's more odious citizens: Norwood and his wife Heloise. Tension is running high in the town, and no one feels safe with the wayward Grim on the loose damning fellow Grims and innocents alike until she gets her way. Soon disaster strikes in Croak and it becomes apparent that conflicting opinions have split the town, turning the Seniors against Uncle Mort and his Juniors. Can Lex hunt down the murderess Grim and help restore Croak back to the cozy town she loves?
What I Liked:
- I was pleased to note Lex's tremendous growth in this book. She has shed the rebellious, disrespectful attitude and transformed into a capable and determined young lady, ready to step up and track down a killer. She is smart and quick to use her problem solving skills. Yet, she is struggling with the recent devastating loss she suffered and worried about her unique damning ability. I liked the new more complex Lex.
- I was excited to see that Uncle Mort played a much bigger role in this book. He is quick with his memorable quips that lighten up the book. He also deals with some difficulties and he stands up and takes them head on. Uncle Mort never takes anything lying down!
- Once the atmosphere becomes chaotic in Croak, the group of Juniors flee with Uncle Mort to another Grim settlement called DeMyse. I liked seeing the gang outside their normal confines. I also was pleased to see the addition of a couple of new characters, the most memorable being Broomie. I only hope that Broomie will be along for the next book.
- The plot of this book drives to solving the mystery surrounding the notorious Grim, Groton and catching the killer. There are some big surprises in this one and the ending was an explosion of reveals with some agonizing, jaw dropping moments and a painful cliffhanger. I was stunned by some of the revelations!
And The Not So Much:
- This book takes on much darker and more serious tone, in contrast to it its predecessor. While this isn't a terrible thing by any means, I found myself missing some of the light hearted antics that went on in Croak. This book is thick with tension and suspense.
- The romance between Lex and Driggs is no longer in its fledgling stages. The awkward, antagonistic phase has moved into lengthy make out sessions. I actually missed the quibbles they used to have. The relationship, though, is strong and they care very deeply for one another. It is nice to see they always have each other's backs.
- I was disappointed to find that there was no resolution between Lex and her parents. After the disastrous misfortune and hasty parting, I was hoping to see Lex reach out her parents and be a source of comfort, unfortunately that does not happen.
- The pacing of this one dragged a bit for me. As I noted, this book has a much darker and serious tone. There is plenty of tension but the overall pace does not pickup until the dramatic finish and then it is rapid fire until the dreadful cliffhanger ending.
- There was a couple of instances where things were quickly brushed over and not thoroughly explained. Some examples: what exactly was the plant that Lex used that worked as a neutralizer and how did it work? What was the relationship between Mort and the mayor of DeMyse? How did Norwood cull his new ability? What all was Uncle Mort hiding? These were just a few of the many lingering questions that remained.
Scorch is a solid follow up to Croak. This book takes the plots in new directions as it takes on a more dramatic, tension filled tone. The ending is jaw dropping and will leave you hungering for the next book. If you are hankering for a book featuring a new twist on the classic Grim Reaper, check out this series!
“And as much as I’d love to continue exploring the existential implications of Damning roadkill, the truth is” he plunged his hands into his hair until it stuck up even more than usual---‘you’ve been back here in my presence for two agonizing hours now, and if we don’t properly make out soon, I’m going to hurl myself off the roof.”
“Well,” Uncle Mort said, “looks like the crazies have arrived. Much earlier than usual, it would seem.”
“Tell you what, next time we’re being chased by a murderous criminal, I’ll try to schedule in a little more time for sightseeing.”
“I miss Mom and Dad. The way Mom would put those silly ‘Made with love’ notes in our lunches, the way Dad honked the horn in the school parking lot extra embarrassingly whenever the football team ran by.” She let out a small laugh. “Other things, too. Sneezing. the smell of gasoline. That blurry feeling between being asleep and being awake. The way you can hold your hands at just the right angle in the shower so that it looks like beams of water are shooting out from your fingertips like a superhero.” She looked at Lex. “None of it’s the same. I’ll never get any of that back.”
I received an ARC copy of this book courtesy of the publisher all quotes are from the ARC and may differ. I received no compensation for my review and all opinions are my own.