Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: Jan. 4, 2011
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Simon & Schuster)
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?
Choker was a dark, creepy read that reminded me of some of R.L. Stine's Fear Street book series that I devoured one after the other in middle school. I felt for Cara's character in the beginning--she had very low self-esteem, she had no friends, the popular girls in school were cruel to her, her parents were often too preoccupied with their jobs and she pretty much just felt like a useless appendage. When Zoe came along, Cara finally had someone to confide in and, with Zoe's help, finally gains some self-confidence. But the "honeymoon" period of their friendship was short-lived and Zoe became jealous of Cara's new life. Zoe had a controlling and a volatile personality but besides that you know that there's something not right with this girl. Other secondary characters included the love interest, Ethan, who was your typical popular jock but he had a history that made him sympathetic to Cara and I understood why he might have been drawn to her. There were also Cara's parents who I didn't like right from the start--seriously if they already knew about their daughter why would they neglect her like that? Haha, I blame them for what happened to Cara in the end.
The plot was evenly paced for the most part and the author kept the dark and eerie mood until the last page. There was a huge twist in the end and I guess it's one of those you-figure-it-out-early-or-you-don't-types. I kind of figured it out early on but it didn't lessen the impact of the big reveal. If you don't figure it out, it's quite shocking. This book is the author's debut novel and I thought she did a good job--besides it being a really creepy read, it explores bullying and an unhealthy, sometimes abusive friendship. Change up your contemporary read and check out Choker--this novel with its disturbing characters and frightening plot will keep you reading into the night. 4 out of 5 stars