Sunday, February 16, 2014
by Elizabeth Woods
Reviewed by Sesana
Four out of five stars
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 cover is pretty, but a little misleading. It looks like your average, run-of-the-mill YA PNR. There is some romance in this book, but it's limited. It's important to Cara, of course, but it isn't the most important thing, and it doesn't occupy her thoughts to the exclusion of all else. Especially later on in the book, as Zoe's behavior becomes more and more unpredictable, and stranger things happen around her.
I'll be honest and say that I saw the ending coming from very early on in the book. That didn't bother me as much as it maybe should have. I think that a lot of other readers, especially the teen girls who are the actual target audience, will take much longer to catch on, even be entirely surprised. And because I knew where it was going, I could see and appreciate how much thought and effort Woods put into making the ending work.
Cara's narration will probably make or break the book for many readers. She's painfully self-conscious around other people, verging on paranoia, and her train of thought goes off the rail with increasing frequency. This will, I'm sure, annoy some readers and leave others cold. But I found her narration to be painfully real in its details.
This is one of those books that just flew by as I was reading it. Yes, it's fairly short, but I was surprised at just how quickly I was taking it all in. Once I survived the painful second-hand embarrassment of the first chapter, I simply couldn't put it down. And I couldn't add Woods's second book, Figment, to my TBR fast enough.