Choker by Elizabeth Woods
Simon and Schuster, 240 pages
Sixteen-year-old Cara Lange has been a loner ever since she moved away from her best and only friend, Zoe, years ago. She eats lunch with the other girls from the track team, but they’re not really her friends. Mostly she spends her time watching Ethan Gray from a distance, wishing he would finally notice her, and avoiding the popular girls who call her “Choker” after a humiliating incident in the cafeteria.
Then one day Cara comes home to find Zoe waiting for her. Zoe’s on the run from problems at home, and Cara agrees to help her hide. With her best friend back, Cara’s life changes overnight. Zoe gives her a new look and new confidence, and next thing she knows, she’s getting invited to parties and flirting with Ethan. Best of all, she has her BFF there to confide in.
But just as quickly as Cara’s life came together, it starts to unravel. A girl goes missing in her town, and everyone is a suspect—including Ethan. Worse still, Zoe starts behaving strangely, and Cara begins to wonder what exactly her friend does all day when she’s at school. You’re supposed to trust your best friend no matter what, but what if she turns into a total stranger?
Talk about choosing a very creepy book to start my year. Choker by Elizabeth Woods is one of those books that I had no idea what it was about, but I read it because I saw good reviews from other blogging friends. Note that I said saw and not read, because I thought it wasn’t something I’d be able to get a copy of anytime soon, but thanks to Simon and Schuster’s Galley Grab, I got an ebook copy.
Choker comes from what Alexis Henning and Sydney Powers start calling Cara Lange after she chokes on a piece of carrot during lunch at their school. Quiet, almost invisible Cara was hardly noticed in school until that incident, and even being saved by her crush Ethan Gray didn’t help. What helped her to gain a bit of confidence back and make friends was when her childhood friend Zoe, shows up out of nowhere. Cara’s life improves significantly as she makes friends and catches Ethan’s attention, but weird things start to happen too and she can’t help but wonder if her best friend is somehow involved.
This book ups the creepiness by making things seem so ordinary and yet you know something…well, weird is happening in the background. I really and truly feel sorry for Cara, here. I’ve had my loner moments back in high school, but Cara doesn’t just go by unnoticed but people pick on her too! Sometimes I want to shake her and all and tell her to be more assertive, because nothing is really going to happen if she allows herself to be just that. Zoe definitely comes off as a stronger personality than Cara but you’d know right from the start when Cara and Zoe were playing in Zoe’s mom’s room with her pills (no best sleeping pills, I think) that there’s something odd about Zoe, which was proved further as the story went on.
I’ve often said before that I would rather have a love issue than a friendship issue because friendship issues hurt more. Of course, I have no experience in the love issues department, but friendship issues, I’ve had a lot. I hated it when I had fights with my close friends because it’s hard to find someone else who will sympathize with you. Choker reminded me of those reasons, and it was a breath of fresh air to read something that is not romance, even if it is very creepy.
If you think you know what will happen in the novel based on my review…well, you’re wrong. There’s a twist in the end that caught me (and other readers, for sure) by surprise, and even if it isn’t an entirely new concept, I thought it was a great (albeit creepy, again) way to turn the story around.
My copy: e-book ARC from Simon & Schuster Galley Grab
Cover and Blurb: Goodreads