by Elizabeth Woods
YA | Girls | Suspense
First Line (ARC) / "Come out, come out, little frog. We've made you a nest. It's under a log." Zoe's clear voice piped through the shaggy thicket of honeysuckle. Nine-year-old Cara stuck a leaf in the little heap of grass and paused to gaze at her best friend.
The What About / from the publisher
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?
The Review / Wow. Just WOW. choker filled me with an unexpected yet delightful horror that I am still reeling from the shocking - just SHOCKING - ending! Holy fudge sundae, I get to know a book for the first 2/3 of the story, only to get sucker-punched with no real warning! Not cool - and yet I loved it! :)
I could totally relate to Cara with my fair share of humiliating high school memories, although I never had to endure any Mean Girls treatment (thank goodness!). No, but I can sympathize with Cara's feelings of loneliness and feeling like an outsider who can never quite fit into anywhere. Not to mention the major crushing on the cutest boy in school who is seven-leagues away from ever noticing a quiet mouse of a girl
Zoe, on the other hand, was just plain weird - and Cara never really got into figuring out why. She simply rolled with it. Zoe stole her mom's zombie pills and dares Cara to take some? Okay. Zoe has run away and wants to stay with Cara? Okay. Zoe doesn't want Cara's parents to know she's back? Okay. Zoe smells dirty and has yellowed teeth, but seems fine with it? Okay. Zoe had poisoned the old neighbor's dog when they were kids? Okay. Zoe persuades Cara to kiss her to "practice" for the real making-out with Ethan? Okay.
o_O <--my face as I want to shake some sense into Cara. Just thinking about Zoe makes me shiver still.
choker will definitely thrill and chill as the incredibly creepy story unfolds, and I admit the truth seems so obvious that it really blindsides you. I almost cried for Cara at the end when everything finally came out in the open! Not to mention her crush Ethan - poor, poor guy - I can't imagine how messed up he will be for the years to follow.
If you love to torture yourself with horror movies (i.e. nearly pee your pants as you jump in your chair and then laugh at your reaction afterward), I can see how choker might be a perfect addition to the bookshelf. It is definitely different from the usual pop-and-sparkle that I tend to read - this is one for the broad daylights, dear Readers, or under the bedsheets with a flashlight if you feel dramatic.
---Disclaimer / January DAC Prize Pack (The Story Siren)
---RELEASED JANUARY 2011 BY SIMON & SCHUSTER CHILDREN'S