Friday, April 8, 2011

Choker by Elizabeth Woods

Title: Choker
Author: Elizabeth Woods
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing 
Release Date: January 4, 2011
Date Read: March 31 - April 2, 2011
Rating: 4/5 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?

I knew it! Right from the start. The entire book had a Black Swan feel to it, so it just became a matter of seeing how things would unravel. I was disappointed at the beginning, going "Great, I have to read 150 more pages about how she killed Sydney." But it got so much better! The twist of killing Alexis too? Never saw that coming. I thought she'd kidnap her or something, but stuffing her in the barn roof was so much more intense. 

Like many other reviewers, I didn't really like Cara as a protagonist. As you might have noticed from previous reviews, I dislike clingy, shallow girls looking for dates. Her pining after Ethan was embarrassing to read and I kept wanting to just yell at her "Grow up!" I also thought she was terribly naive to think that her parents would never find Zoe, like seriously, who thinks they can hide someone in their bedroom for weeks without someone noticing? However, considering how the novel turned out, Cara was perfect. Everything made sense in the end. In that case I found it really logical as a writer for Elizabeth to make Cara so helpless and juvenile, isolated by both her family and peers. 

I loved how this novel wasn't really about bullying, though that ended up being the driving force behind Cara's actions. It was really an identity story as Cara attempted to separate her nickname and persona at school from the idealistic confident girl she dreams of being. Her struggle between independence and dependence/friendship with Zoe was so realistically written that many readers probably never suspected that it was an internal struggle within Cara rather than a fight between friends. 

I loved the "trifecta" of the Choker symbolism: Cara's nickname, how Cara always "chokes" when an opportunity arises, and choking Alexis and Sydney. I absolutely loved how this theme was incorporated in so many different contexts, each without being too obvious and "notice me putting the title in the story"-ish.

Favourite Quote: "Over and over, they said the sentence together, gazing into the mirror. Cara's voice blended with Zoe's until she couldn't tell whether she was speaking or Zoe was."

Recommended: Breathe My Name (R.A. Nelson), Bliss (Lauren Myracle), All Unquiet Things (Anna Jarzab)


  1. Ooo, I'm glad to hear this was good. I've been meaning to read it, in part because I know the author. I'll have to bump it up on my list!

  2. Every time I see that someone has reviewed this, I check mostly to see if they were shocked by the ending. I wasn't shocked by the ending, but rather shocked by how many people WERE shocked. Like you, I figured out "the twist" from the start. I still enjoyed reading it, but would have preferred not being such a smarty pants.

  3. I have this on my list but haven't gotten to it yet. Great review guess I'm gonna have to bump this one up the list a little hehe =o)


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