Cara is the quiet girl. Ever since she moved away from her best friend Zoe years ago, she's had trouble fitting in. So when Zoe shows up in her room, running away from home, she has to keep her safe. Zoe hides in her room, content to give Cara makeovers and advice on boys. Cara doesn't even mind if Zoe is a little obsessive-controlling; she's just glad to have her friend back.
Knowing that Zoe is around gives Cara the confidence to branch out. She makes friends on the track team and totally connects with Ethan, her crush.
Then tragedy strikes the town. A girl is found dead, another missing. And Zoe's moods oscillate radically, shifting from kind to cruel to needy until Cara can't keep up. Why did Zoe run away from home? And could she be involved with the incidents?
Cara may have gotten the nickname "Choker" because of an embarrassing event in the cafeteria, but Zoe is the one who is strangling her. Even from the first few pages, a prologue when the girls were neighbors and Zoe tried to get Cara to try her mom's "zombie pills," I was yelling at Cara to get away from that girl. The feeling only got stronger when Zoe returned as a teenager; I hated her mind games and the "but don't you love me?" nature of it all. And, every time, Cara gave in to Zoe's demands.
But I suppose that's what turned Choker into such a compelling read - rooting for Cara, watching each time she did try to stand up for herself and got closer and closer to actually succeeding. Who hasn't had a friend that played with her loyalties?
I've seen a lot of reviews that treat this book as an "intro thriller." I haven't read much horror/mystery myself, so it was kind of perfect in that respect. Dead bodies? Check. Murder mystery? Check. Heebie-jeebies? Triple check. And even though I was guessing the end pretty quickly, the true finale was powerful and startling.
Choker is a great read for the horror hesitant (like me) with a narrator worth rooting for.
This is Elizabeth Woods' first novel.