Sixteen year old Cara has never felt right, she never fitted in with the other people at school and the only friend she ever had she was forced to leave behind when she was in fifth grade. She moved away, leaving best friend Zoe behind and moving invisibly through life into high school.
However after a mortifying event at school, which earned her a new nickname, 'Choker,' from the popular girls who hated her. Cara comes home to find Zoe sat waiting on her bed, ready to be a shoulder to cry on. Next thing Cara knows is one of the most popular girls in school is dead and another is missing. Cara has to work out what happened and Zoe isn't help her work it all out.
Id purposely tried to read very little about choker before I read it so that it would shock me as much as possible. I knew that many people whose opinions I value loved the book and I'd read the synopsis and that was enough to tell me I had to read this book! I'm so glad I didn't read a lot now though because I was very suitably shocked and I don't want to go into much detail because I want anyone reading this who goes on to read the book to have the same response as me.
I love a good thriller... A murder, abduction, a few people in the frame; all makes for a good plot for me! So obviously Choker didn't disappoint with that! I was suitably kept on my toes the whole way through and read it so quickly because I just needed to know what was going on and if theories were correct!
I felt so sorry for Cara at the beginning of the story. You could tell she was a bit of a social outcast and I just wanted her to fit in and for Alexis and Sydney to stop being so awful to her. As the story went on and Cara came out of her shell a bit more I really started rallying for her, I wanted her to have new friends and a boyfriend and stuff.
Zoe however I didn't like at all, though I think that's probably the point, you could tell from the start that she was a bit unhinged; or maybe just plain crazy. She was so over-protective of Cara and I couldn't help but wish she'd just go away!
I think the idea behind Choker is brilliant. I loved the story and it messed with your head a bit which is always good for me. It is the second amazing psychological thriller I've read from a debut author I have read this year and I loved them both so much! I cannot wait to see what Elizabeth Woods has in store for us next!
Cara Lange has been a loner since she was uprouted by her parents and moved miles away from her best friend Zoe. The butt of the mean girls at school jokes, one particularly embarrassing incident gains her the name Choker. She's never felt so isolated, so when Zoe appears in Cara's room begging for her help, Zoe agrees to hide her.
To begin everything's great. Under vivacious Zoe's influence Cara undergoes a make over and with tips from her best friend starts to feel more confident, makes some friends and even catches the eye of the local heart throb, Ethan. But just as Cara is getting used to her new life, things start to unravel. First a girl goes missing, presumed dead, then Ethan becomes a suspect. With Zoe starting to act strangely, Cara's left wondering if her friend is the girl she knew all those years ago. Can she trust Zoe at all?
I love a psychological thriller. Last year I read and was thoroughly blown away by Rebecca James' Beautiful Malice and the synopsis for Choker reminded me of that a little. So with a creepy and intriguing synopsis and the prettiest cover, I couldn't resist. Well one things for certain, that pretty cover is a complete contrast to what's actually inside this book. I love that! Don't be fooled, this isn't a fluffy tale at all and at times was quite disturbing.
Choker follows Cara, a girl who isn't just a loner at school but is pretty much abandoned by her workaholic parents too. It's clear right away she's not happy at all. Disliked by the popular girls at her new school, who are no doubt suspicious of her shy and nervous disposition and sense her vulnerability (making her an ideal target for their bullying) she does her best to go unnoticed. But when she chokes in the school canteen and is subsequently saved by school hottie and her secret crush, Ethan, she becomes centre of attention and earns the nickname Choker. Not only was it excruciatingly embarrassing though, but Ethan is the boyfriend of biggest bitch of all, ringleader Alexis, who makes it her mission to see Cara's life is as miserable as possible. I really, really felt for Cara in this section, Woods recreated the pain and humiliation Cara feels perfectly. In her home the loneliness she felt as she wandered about on her own was palpable.
When Zoe turns up the book takes a decidedly sinister turn. I really don't want to say too much about this, as it would completely spoil the book for those who hadn't read it, but I definitely felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up as she arrived and I looked forward to being completely freaked out. Sadly, I felt the book lost a little of it's tension as I became increasingly annoyed with Cara, who appeared to be just plain stupid. I kind of lost my belief in it for a while, her situation at home didn't ring true, the developing relationship with Ethan wasn't genuine in my eyes and Zoe became a bit of a cliché. If I'm I honest, I wasn't that enthralled and the middle of this short book dragged for me. At just over 200 pages I'd expected to rush through it but I kept loosing concentration and putting it down. However, the writing was beautiful and there remained enough mystery to keep me going.
So I was all ready for not liking this book at all and wham! Elizabeth Woods delivers one hell of an ending that completely took me by surprise. Suddenly all the faults I'd picked with it made sense, and I couldn't believe I hadn't seen it sooner. It was a real 'OH MY GOD!' moment and everything I'd wondered about suddenly made sense. I'm not sure if that means I'm not very good at spotting the clues or Woods was clever enough to completely disguise them, then slap me in the face with. Either way, I ended up finishing the book in shock and awe.
Choker is Elizabeth Woods debut novel, and despite the niggles I picked I would definitely read more from this author. I'd have liked a bit more to this book I think, a few more pages could have easily been afforded and used to build more atmosphere as well as create a more convincing relationship with Ethan. However I did very much like her writing style and ability to recreate feelings so vividly, at times I almost felt them myself. And that ending completely redeemed the book for me and left me speechless. I'd recommend Choker to anyone who likes a thriller and a possible quick read, although I will warn you that some scenes are disturbing at times (particularly if you really like animals) and wouldn't advise this book for under 14's. Overall a promising debut with a winning ending.