Thursday, 13 January 2011

Book Review: Choker by Elizabeth Woods.

Product details:
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing.
Hardcover, 240 pages.
Release date: January 4th 2011.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Ages: 14+
Source: Simon & Schuster Galley Grab.

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 by debut novelist Elizabeth Woods, is a hidden gem of a book. A fast-paced psychological thriller, to be read in one sitting, this will certainly leave you shocked, disturbed and a little spooked too. Despite not knowing much about this one, I picked it up as I generally love psychological thrillers, and the toxic friendship angle is one that I can‘t get enough of! That said, I was expecting a much lighter read than this delivered. This book is dark, disturbing and twisted, and to say that the female protagonists in this one are unhinged, is an understatement.

We first encounter Cara and Zoë as children. They are best friends and seem inseparable spending all their days together living in a little world all of their own. Fast forward a number of years, and Cara has moved away to a new town, and a new life. Zoë is no longer in the picture, and without her things just seem to be getting worse and worse for Cara. She is a true outsider who doesn’t seem to fit in anywhere. She doesn’t have any friends to speak of, she is miserable both at home where she has nothing in common with her much older parents, and at school, where she suffers terrible bullying, at the hands of the ever-popular Alexis and her band of mean girls. Worse still, she has a crush on Alexis’s boyfriend Ethan, who barely acknowledges her existence. Things go from bad to worse when an embarrassing incident at school earns Cara the name of ‘Choker’ and provides Alexis with all the ammunition she needs to make her life a living hell. So, when Zoë chooses that moment to re-enter her life, the timing is perfect.

With her best friend back on the scene things start to improve little by little for Cara. Her social life is on the up, Ethan is suddenly taking an interest in her, and her enemies seem to be disappearing one by one…

It’s clear from the start of this book that all is not right with Cara, and as soon as Zoë shows up things take a very sinister twist indeed. This is a surprisingly dark tale for the young adult sector, with some truly twisted scenes that will totally creep you out and give you shivers. Also, animal lovers, take note - there are some scenes here that may make you feel a little uncomfortable. Honestly, I couldn’t believe some of the things these two were capable of. The story gets darker and darker as it goes on. Don’t be fooled by the pretty pink cover. There is nothing light and fluffy about this book!

As an older reader of Young Adult fiction, I admit that I figured out a major plot twist in Choker just fifty pages into the story, but that’s not to say that this detracted from my enjoyment of the book. I loved seeing how the story unfolded, and how the author expertly placed clues about the characters along the way. I will say that for those readers who don’t figure out the twist, the ending of this one will be truly spectacular. If you want a fast-paced read that is totally engrossing and will creep you out, then pick up a copy of Choker. I’m glad I did!

23 comments :

  1. I just picked this one up from the bookstore. Now after reading your review, I'm very eager to read it! :)

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  2. This one sounds good. I haven't read a "toxic friendship" book in a long time. I love stories that are so powerful they can creep you out. I will have to keep my eye out for this one. Thanks for the great review!

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  3. This looks great! The story doesn't seem to match the pretty pink cover though. Thanks for the review.

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  4. Fantastic review! I don't know if I will read this or not. I don't like it when the main character does evil things and from your review that sounds like the case here. I have liked other books with toxic friendships in them but usually the protagonist is a nice person with a horrid friend.

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  5. I was curious about this one. It sounds really good. Thanks for the great review!

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  6. I have an idea as to what the twist could be but I hope I'm wrong because I want to be surprised when I read this one.

    It sounds so awesome in a creepy and twisted way!

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  7. Awesome review, Leanna! I was so disappointed since I only read negative reviews of Choker till now. I am relieved to see that you liked this book.I have been reading a lot of books which creep me out. One more wouldn't hurt :)

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  8. I loved this book!!! I'm also an "older" YA reader and I didn't figure our the ending to be honest. Of course it was clear there is something up but I suspected something else. It was an incredible creepy but awesome book! Great Review!

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  9. Everybody seems to be enjoying this. It is going to have to be a must read for me. It sounds so different from what the pink cover tells you. Great review :)

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  10. Wow this sound like a book I would love. Like you I like a good psychological thriller and the fact that you knew the plot twist early on and it still had you reading till the end is high praise. Thanks I will definitely be putting this one on my wish list!

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  11. Hi! Came to your site after reading your posts on NetGalley (I just joined) - hope you are enjoying your Sony reader, I read on my kindle!

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  12. @Michlle - I hope you haven't figured out the twist already!

    @Misha - I've seen a couple of negative reviews for this one too. Maybe it's not for everyone, but I really enjoyed it!

    @Danny - I wish I hadn't figured out the ending. It was very obvious to me, but I think I might have read a book with a similar twist before (or maybe seen it in a TV show or movie - I can't recall right now).

    @Deepali - Hi! I hope you enjoy the blog! :)

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  13. I hadn't heard of this book before but it sounds pretty good! Thanks for the review hun :)

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  14. This book did creep me out. Yes, don't be fooled by the pink cover. I thought it was going to be more of a mystery. It was interesting, though. Definitely not your norm YA book.

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  15. Oh boy, you have me excited for this book. I'm guessing that this book must be far darker than Beautiful Malice?

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  16. I've seen a bunch of negative reviews for Choker but I might give it a try now. Thanks for the review!

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  17. Just got this one myself! I'm looking forward to a creepy read, thanks for the review!

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  18. I'm on the fence about this one. It sounds good, but it also sounds like it's maybe a little too twisted for me. I tend to like happy books. Thank you very much for the animal lovers warning. This was a great review. You gave me a lot to think about. Thanks!

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  19. Thanks for the comments, guys!

    @Tammy - This one and Beautiful Malice are very different. I can't give too much away, but I can say that the books really aren't alike at all. This one grossed me out because of some cruel incidents involving animals. I can't abide any kind of animal cruelty!

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  20. Leana stop making me add books to my wish-list :D
    Is this one counted towards the DAC. Being an older YA reader I get the twists quickly too :D

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  21. ^ Lol! Sorry for making you add so many books to your wishlist. This one is a debut, according to the S&S website. It's impossible to find any info about the author online though, it seems!

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  22. I just read this one. I wasn't all that keen on it, until the final 80 or so pages. It's not that I disliked it, just felt it lacked tension really. But the ending kind of blew me away and I didn't see THAT coming.

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