In this creepy psychological thriller, something disturbing is happening in the background while 16-year-old Cara narrates, oblivious; and readers will relish hunting for the clues. Cara is relieved when her best friend, Zoe, whom she hasn’t seen since moving away in fifth grade, appears at her house needing a hiding place. Cara is ridiculed at school—after a disastrous cafeteria incident, the mean girls call her “choker”—but Zoe always knows what to do. With her help, Cara successfully makes over her image, but the better Cara does, the more resentful Zoe becomes. When one mean girl drowns and another disappears, Cara starts wondering why Zoe has returned, and what she is hiding from. Right from the prologue, when young Zoe cajoles Cara to eat her mom’s “zombie” pills, it’s clear that their obsessive relationship is twisted, but Woods plays with readers’ expectations well enough to keep us guessing at Zoe’s true nature. Terrific pacing and mounting suspense lead to a resolution that may not surprise savvy readers but is nonetheless chilling. Grades 9-12. --Krista Hutley
About the Author
Choker is Elizabeth Woods' debut novel. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.