Author: Elizabeth Woods
Release Date: January 4, 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
Genre: Teen/YA, Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Cara is a nobody at her high school. She doesn’t really have any friends, though she does have a crush on a really cute guy, Ethan. Unfortunately, Ethan’s girlfriend is Alexis, a popular, pretty girl whose life mission seems to be to make Cara’s existence miserable. Cara wishes and hopes for some help, and then Zoe, Cara’s best friend from childhood, shows up and asks Cara if she can stay for awhile. Cara is delighted at this turn of events, and thinks things are perfect, until strange things start happening, and Cara wonders if Zoe is at the center of it.
Choker is an expertly plotted psychological thriller, which, I must admit, surprised me. While I do enjoy the occasional YA novel, they aren’t books I would imagine would delve deep into the human psyche (generalizing, I know). However, Choker takes the reader on a thrill ride through the characters’ minds as the reader tries to uncover what exactly is going on.
It begins with Cara being bullied. This part of the book really is heartbreaking, as it’s never easy to read about that sort of thing. The reader wonders how people can be that cruel, how teenagers can so easily be absolutely despicable to one another. Though the causes and psyche of the bullies are unclear, it’s very obvious what it does to Cara. She is broken by the tormenting, and all she wants is for it to go away. Zoe’s arrival gives her the strength she needs to endure Alexis’ taunts.
However, Zoe starts acting more and more strangely, and Cara begins to wonder if she really knows her friend anymore – after all, it has been years since they have spoken. She begins to remember small acts of cruelty that Zoe committed and wonders if she was romanticizing their friendship in her mind. All the while, the reader is wondering why Cara trusts Zoe so much, when it’s clear that Zoe is a destructive person. As the book progresses, it becomes obvious that Zoe destroys everything she touches. All the reader can do is keep reading and hope that Cara will escape Zoe’s clutches before it’s too late.
Choker is densely plotted and suspenseful. It will hook the reader from the very first page, as they try to understand what is going on and root for Cara. The ending is exceptionally well done; this isn’t a good psychological thriller for the YA genre. It’s a great psychological thriller, period. Anyone interested in books about the human psyche and destructive personalities should definitely pick this one up. It’s a short, quick read, but it will leave you shocked, as well as impressed with Elizabeth Woods’ writing ability.