Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Sixteen-year-old Cara Lange has always been a loner, even more so since she moved away from her best and only friend, Zoe, a few years ago. Cara mostly spends her time avoiding the popular girls who calll her 'choker' after a humiliating incident in the cafeteria, and watching Ethan Gray from a distance, wishing he would finally notice her.
Then one day Cara comes home and finds Zoe waiting for her. Zoe's on the run from problems at home, and Cara agrees to help her hide. With Zoe back, Cara's life changes overnight. Zoe gives her a new look and new confidence, and before she can blink, Cara is flirting with Ethan and getting invited to parties. And best of all, she has her best friend to confide in again.
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 very strangely, and Cara begins to wonder what exactly her friend does all day when she's at school. You're supposed to be able to trust your best friend no matter what, but what if she turns into a total stranger?
A big thanks to Simon & Schuster Australia for sending me a review copy of this book!
Don't let the pretty face of a girl or that swirly fancy font fool you . . . because this young adult novel is far from the sweet nothings you first expect from a book like this one. But it worked its charms on me and that is for certain as I reached the final pages.
CHOKER tells the haunting tale of a sixteen-year-old girl named Cara whom has always been the outcast of her high school and she doesn't seem to have any friends whatsoever no matter how hard she tries. Except for Zoe, a girl she left behind when her and her family moved houses. When a few years have past, Cara receives an unexpected surprise of Zoe's arrival and as much as Zoe shouldn't be staying there . . . Cara just cannot say no to her. But when some girls from her local high school begin to disappear one-by-one and when everybody - including the hottie boy named Ethan - suddenly begins to take notice of the new and improved Cara, Cara herself is soon second-questioning whether Zoe is the same Zoe she knew once before . . . or could this new Zoe be a killer that everyone is looking for? Someone a little too close to home? Maybe or maybe not . . . you'll just have to read to find out for yourself!
One of the greatest things about Elizabeth Wood's writing is her ability to engage with her readers and keep them there til the very end. You know, those rare moments where you find yourself turning those pages - no matter the drama - just to see what happens to your favourite characters? The good and the bad. Yup, those moments and boy that is exactly what happened to me with this title. For all of us readers, our job and what we choose to do is read something on the surface and look at it in one way to get a clearer picture of the book and predict what could happen. However, it is also our job to investigate further and think beyond those smooth surfaces, since everything is not what it seems and all YA books lately - especially the twisted and the thriller ones - will always contain several layers until everything is revealed all in one at the very end of the book. When it came to CHOKER, Elizabeth Woods definitely proved to be a great thriller writer and delivered a shocking Shutter-Island-like result to please - and confuse - her readers.
The main character, Cara, is someone you immediately feel some sympathy for. The poor girl is lonely and all she wants is a friend to confide in (who doesn't want a friend), and someone to accept her for who she is as a person. I mean, underneath it all she's genuinely a nice girl and everyone - if they looked hard enough - could see that side of her too. But when the storyline takes an interesting turnpoint with Zoe turning up on her doorstep, I could understand why Cara was drawn back to her old troublesome friend and I could also understand why Cara was worried about why Zoe was there . . . because Zoe is known to be a very, very unpredictable young lady. She scared the crap out of me to be honest but despite those eery circumstances surrounding Zoe's arrival, I just couldn't help but love the friendship bonded between Cara and Zoe but again Zoe scared the crap out of me. For another mentioned character, a boy named Ethan, while Cara and his romance was shortly-lived (because the ending kind of ruined things), I still wished it was more developed between the two of them but it was still nonetheless a great element to add.
The only real complaint I have with CHOKER is the lines of story predictability. While the book is smoothly-paced, short in length and overall a great read, but sometimes I didn't feel satisfied when I easily guess on what the big twisty reveal would be at the end of the book. Sure, the ending still had really threw me off because I called on it earlier in the book but I was hoping for the author to take the story on a completely different angle. After all, there wasn't enough closure and I was left with too many unanswered questions. But Elizabeth Woods managed to write a great ending so I'll give her that - one that ultimately changes everything single thing you read in this book.
Overall, CHOKER was a fantastic young adult thriller and the author is the real star for creating some heart-pulsing tension. If you like to be stunned beyond words and be left with your head still spinning, then I definitely recommend this novel. Trust me - you won't regret it!