Friday, March 30, 2012

Choker by Elizabeth Woods

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Pages: 233pgs

The Story

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?

The Review

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!

The Rating

4/5 stars

20 comments:

  1. "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?" <-- Yes, I definitely know what you're talking about!! Those are those amazing character-driven novels that I always want to hug (or throw across the room, depending on how good or bad it is for the characters LOL)! x)

    Awesome review, Erin! I'm always looking to be stunned, so I might have to read this book soon! :)

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    1. Thanks Mimi! Can't wait to hear your thoughts on this one!

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  2. This cover is so memorable although I wasn't convinced I wanted to read this but now I am, I like the occasional darker YA and this thriller sounds like a great read.

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    1. It is a great read. Hope you pick it up!

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  3. I've been hearing a few mixed opinions about this, but one thing seems to be true from everything I've heard: CREEPY!! Very interested to see why Zoe scares the crap out of you haha. She sounds like a well-written character. Shame about the predictable storyline, especially when you're holding out that it's NOT going to be what you guesed. Anyway, so glad you enjoyed this! Awesome review!

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    1. I've heard mixed opinions too. I guess it depends on what you loves are. But yes, it's really creepy. In a good way of course. Thanks!

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  4. Oh my goodness...
    I just wrotie this... MARATHON length comment... then accidently clicked away and WIPED IT O____O

    ANYWAY!

    I was saying I was so glad you liked this one, but I was a little dissapointed? I picked the Big Twist from the prologue, and spent the rest of the book hoping I was wrong... if that was where she was going with it, I wanted the endign executed better, or... I don't know... I just thought it let what was otherwise a great book and KILLER tension. OMG. The creepy? TELL ME ABOUT IT! I finished it RIGHT before I went to bed and had nightmares the rest of the night! It was so unsettling, and ZOE! *shudders*
    I wonder if what happens to her as the book goes on is kind of symbolic, if you know what I mean? BRILLIANT!

    ANYWAY! SOOO glad you loved this one! FAB review! ♥

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    1. You're not the only one! I always accidently wipe my blog comments . . . I tend to blame it on my backspace or delete button. haha.

      Anyway, I'm really glad that I liked this book too. Didn't think I would . . . but I love my darker YA thriller books. You got the creeps too! YAY! haha. Zoe was super creepy but I kind of loved her for it.

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    2. Oh, seriously, it drives me NUTS. *grumbles*
      I've started writing my comments in Notepad, and copying them in when I'm ready so I don't accidently leave the page and lose them :P

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  5. Hmm... I haven't read this book yet but I'm kind of wondering if the 'ending' is the obvious root for most darker YA books. I hope not. I had predictability in books I read. However. your review has actually made me want to pick it up and see if I'm right or not. I love the darker stories and I'm found myself moving from the dystopian genre into darker thrillers lately. Great review - I think I'll have to pick this one up soon.

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    1. Some readers may find the ending obvious . . . but I don't think everyone will pick up on it to be honest here. Maybe it's because I've read every single Nancy Drew book there is . . . so I easily figure out book stuff. haha.

      Anyway, hope you pick this book up. Definitely worth the read!

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  6. Whoaaa looks like I really should get started on this, eh? It's a pity the story was a little predictable - I, for one am REALLY picky about crime and thrillers. Recently, the only thrillers I've liked are ones that manage to completely surprise me with the ending; one's that I can guess towards the middle have been really disappointing :S Still..this one sounds CREEPY! Fantastic review, Erin! I'm looking forward to reading this :D

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    1. Definitely get started with this one! Thanks Shirley!

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  7. I have this book too and I cant wait to read it especially with after reading your review, I dont think the predictable will bother me much, it just sounds so intriguing. Great review Erin. x

    Ƹ̴Ӂ̴ƷFICBOOKREVIEWSƸ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ

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    1. Predictable doesn't bother me all that much. Just as long as I'm entertained by the book itself.

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  8. Great review Erin!!

    Yes I did early on get my idea where book was headed, but!! I just hoped I was wrong, cause that would be sad...but I still enjoyed this story and it was CREEPY!!! I just didn't take points off for working out where it was going because I did get enjoyment from the read and as I said to Caroline at S & S I so could see where a book 2 could totally change what those of us predicted would happen, could turn it on it's head...it would make for an awesome twist!!! But I think this is stand alone....I just felt like I wanted more Ethan......

    Michelle

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    1. Thanks Michelle! Glad I wasn't the only one finding this book creepy as hell. Anyway I too wanted more of Ethan . . . but I'm guessing this story is more of a standalone than a series.

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  9. I read Choker over a year ago, but I remember enjoying it a lot. It was a quick read, but I was able to figure out the twist very early on as well!

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  10. Despite the predictability, this definitely sounds like an amazing book. Great review Erin! I love that the author's writing style is engaging, and a haunting story sounds like my type of thing. I will have to check this out! :)

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