( 42 )


Zoe and Cara were as close as friends could be—until Zoe moved away. Miserable without Zoe, Cara grew into an unhappy sixteen-year-old, tormented by the popular girls and nursing a hopeless crush. Then one day Cara returns home from a miserable day at school to find Zoe sitting on her bed. Shocked and delighted, Cara agrees to hide Zoe from troubles at home and the two resume their friendship as though no time has passed. Zoe even helps Cara get up the courage to stand up for herself and talk to her crush. But ...

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Zoe and Cara were as close as friends could be—until Zoe moved away. Miserable without Zoe, Cara grew into an unhappy sixteen-year-old, tormented by the popular girls and nursing a hopeless crush. Then one day Cara returns home from a miserable day at school to find Zoe sitting on her bed. Shocked and delighted, Cara agrees to hide Zoe from troubles at home and the two resume their friendship as though no time has passed. Zoe even helps Cara get up the courage to stand up for herself and talk to her crush. But when one of the popular girls winds up dead, Cara begins to suspect that Zoe is responsible, and her questions only feed Zoe’s anger. As Cara searches for answers, she is forced to confront a deadly truth….

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Life has not been easy for 16-year-old Cara, who's all but ignored at school and at home, with attorney parents who are almost always at work. After popular girls Alexis and Sydney begin to taunt her with the nickname "Choker" following an incident in the cafeteria, Cara is at her breaking point when her childhood friend Zoe shows up out of nowhere, saying she ran away from her abusive stepfather and begging to hide in Cara's room. At first it is comforting to have Zoe around, but it soon becomes a chore to cater to her unpredictable moods and jealous behavior. The speed with which the book's events take a turn for the worse and then for the better--within a week, Cara almost chokes to death, Zoe shows up after a seven-year absence, one mean girl dies, another disappears, and Cara's social life improves drastically--may clue some readers in that something is up; a twist ending redeems debut author Woods's psychological thriller somewhat. But an overall lack of plausibility robs the story of much of its tension. Ages 14–up. (Jan.)
VOYA - Catherine Gilmore-Clough
Since relocating to a new school several years prior, sixteen-year-old Cara has managed to surf the social edges, neither entirely outcast nor completely accepted. Her shyness leads to public awkwardness—such as the humiliating lunchroom incident that earns her the nickname "choker." But the real barrier to her inclusion in school life is a duo of mean girls, Alexis and Sydney, who target Cara with continuous mockery. Cara's emotionally distant and perpetually overworked parents ignore or do not recognize the signs of their daughter's struggle, and she feels utterly alone. When childhood best friend, Zoe, arrives at Cara's house, having fled her own abusive stepfather and neglectful mother, it seems as though things may finally turn the corner for Cara. Zoe hides her own secrets, however, and even as Cara seeks to protect Zoe, she fears that Zoe may not be the victim she appears. The ongoing success of Lois Duncan and Caroline Cooney attests to the popularity of suspense for teens. This freshman effort from Woods is a well-paced effort with the requisite, but potentially surprising, twist at the end. Although Woods does not break new ground, she provides a workmanlike psychological thriller that will appeal to fans of the genre. Sophisticated readers might cringe, and rightly so, at the characterization of an individual with "psychiatric problems" as the villain of the piece. But this common trope, far from meeting a timely death of its own, provides the satisfactory "gotcha" ending. Reviewer: Catherine Gilmore-Clough
Children's Literature - Lauri Berkenkamp
High school is a nightmare for sixteen-year-old Cara Lange. She is quiet, friendless, and practically invisible at school, and her parents are never home. Cara hasn't had a close friend since moving away from her closest friend Zoe, years before. Her school situation takes a decided turn for the worse when she chokes at lunch and is saved by Ethan, the cutest boy in school. Unfortunately for Cara, Ethan's girlfriend, the cruel and popular Alexis, nicknames Cara "Choker," and the name sticks. But Cara's miserable life suddenly seems sunnier when out of the blue, her old friend Zoe returns. Zoe has run away from home and asks Cara if she can stay with her, but also begs Cara not to tell her parents. Cara immediately agrees, and she finds herself feeling better than she has in ages. Zoe helps Cara change her look, grow more confident, and even talk to cute Ethan. But Zoe also has a dark side; she can be moody, irritable, and disappears for hours at a time. Strange things start happening: one of the mean girls is found drowned under mysterious circumstances, then Cara's nemesis, Alexis, goes missing. Cara begins to suspect that Zoe's strange behavior and crumbling personal hygiene has something to do with the missing girl. When Ethan is targeted by the police as a suspect in Alexis's disappearance, Cara confronts Zoe. Cara and Ethan set up a plan to catch Zoe, but many surprises are in store for the reader. This novel is a terrific, if grim, twist on the typical teen romance: the meek girl does, indeed, get the boy to like her, and gets her revenge on the cruel popular girl in a decidedly unexpected way. The novel moves along quickly and the suspense is maintained quite skillfully to the novel's climax. The plot twists are handled deftly and leave the reader guessing until the end. This book is an intriguing combination of romance, psychological thriller, and suspense and is likely to appeal to a wide variety of readers. Recommended for ages 14 and up. Reviewer: Lauri Berkenkamp
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—After choking on a carrot in the cafeteria, Cara is harassed by the popular girls at her school and given the nickname "Choker." She longs for her old life with her best friend, Zoe, who is no longer there. Coincidentally, Zoe shows up at Cara's house needing a place to stay, but says Cara's parents cannot know because they might tell the police. Cara's life changes dramatically with Zoe's presence. She gets a date with the cutest boy in school after his girlfriend goes missing in the wake of her best friend's death. Wondering if Zoe, who has started to behave bizarrely, has anything to do with these strange goings-on, Cara considers alerting the authorities before her friend disappears. There is an ongoing struggle between the girls. The protagonist is multi-layered and well-drawn. Subtle clues are given in regard to the nature of her true relationship with Zoe, but it is not spelled out completely until the end. The pacing is both chaotic and measured, and some parts of the tale are dark and violent. The taut mood is sustained throughout, and the plot's unpredictability will lead readers to finish the book in one sitting. With similarities to Jacquelyn Mitchard's Now You See Her (HarperTempest, 2007), Choker is sure to be a hit with fans of psychological thrillers.—Lori A. Guenthner, Baltimore County Public Library, Randallstown, MD
Kirkus Reviews

Über-victim Cara Lange feels invisible. At school, even her track teammates ignore her. At home, her affluent lawyer parents barely know their 16-year-old daughter's alive. Her mother lavishes more attention on her cat than on Cara. But after Ethan Gray—the boy Cara harbors a crush on—rescues her from choking on a carrot, she becomes all too visible, labeled "choker" and relentlessly bullied by Ethan's girlfriend and her posse. Enter Zoe, Cara's best, and only, friend in elementary school, whom she hasn't seen since fifth grade and who's on the run from her abusive stepfather. Cara hides her in her room, easily concealing Zoe from her absentee parents. As Zoe settles in, her presence at first boosts Cara's self confidence. However Zoe's lawless attitude and mysterious disappearances increasingly alarm her friend, especially after one of the girls who bullied Cara drowns and another goes missing. This debut serves up genuinely page-turning suspense, but to buy the plot (and particularly the denouement), readers will have to overlook some glaring inconsistencies and improbabilities along with a faint but troubling homophobic subtext. (Suspense. 14 & up)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442412347
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 2/7/2012
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 224,316
  • Age range: 14 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Choker is Elizabeth Woods' debut novel. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

CARA LANGE STOOD IN THE DOORWAY OF THE CAFE- teria, her nylon lunch bag in one hand. The din of chattering students floated above the sea of white Formica-topped tables, and a steamy potato-and-onion aroma emanated from the kitchen. Cara paused. She wasn’t sure she could stand another lunch tacked onto the other track girls like a vestigial organ—completely useless and unnecessary. She considered fleeing to the parking lot and eating lunch in her yellow ’99 Volvo. But no. She wasn’t that lame.

Not yet.

Cara forced her legs across the brown-tiled room. Sherman High hadn’t done a lot of updating since its construction in 1975, architecture’s notorious Brutalism phase. People driving by often mistook the sprawling building on the outskirts of Des Moines for a prison. Cara could have told them that assumption wasn’t far from the truth.

She passed the emo kids in the corner, and the hipsters with their retro T-shirts, and the hippies eating organic yogurt. Some of the art students were stacking a bunch of chairs into a tower—some kind of new art installation? The track girls were clustered at their usual table, packed in tightly. Sarit Kohli, her dark braid reaching almost to her waist, inhaled a stack of turkey slices as she told Rachael Meade about yesterday’s practice. Julie Cohen chomped loudly on an apple while laughing at something Madeline Brazelton was texting. Cara stood over them for a minute, smiling vaguely, but no one looked up or even stopped talking. Finally, she dragged a chair over from the next table and squeezed in between Sarit and Madeline.

“Oh, hey, Cara,” Sarit said, looking up. She inched her chair over.

“Thanks.” Cara sat down.

“Sure.” Sarit shrugged, already turning back to Rachael.

Cara let the noise of the room swirl around her like smoke as she pulled a bag of baby carrots from her nylon sack and nibbled idly. Her eyes drifted across the room to the cafeteria door. Prom-princess Alexis Henning was just swaying through the doors, her butter-blond hair spilling in perfect waves over her shoulders. By her side was Ethan Gray, her on-again, off-again boyfriend and the captain of the boys’ track team. Alexis’s beefy-faced best friend—and Cara’s next-door neighbor—Sydney Powers scurried by her side. Cara’s shoulders tightened involuntarily.

The group slouched into chairs at their usual table nearby. For the gazillionth time, Cara studied Ethan’s profile, taking in the icy-blue eyes, gorgeous nose, and perfectly scruffy beard stubble. His thick dark hair just brushed the collar of his navy polo. Cara sat back in her chair and mentally ran her fingers over his chiseled cheeks.

“You forgot to shave,” she pictured herself teasing. “I don’t want to get all scratched up when you kiss me.”

“Too bad,” she heard him say. He leaned over her and pulled her up against him. She could feel the hard muscles of his chest. He bent his head toward hers. She closed her eyes. . . .

Alexis’s screechy voice crowded her ear. “You can’t come to Sydney’s tomorrow, Ethan. It’s girls only, you dork.”

Cara opened her eyes. Three tables over, Alexis was pulling the foil top off a Dannon lemon yogurt using only the tips of her fingers. Ethan leaned over and whispered something in her ear. “Eww, you’re disgusting!” She slapped him on the shoulder, and he grinned.

Cara took a deep breath. Her fingers were squeezing a baby carrot, and she forced them to relax. Sydney’s surprisingly deep voice chimed in. “My next party is going to be all boys, Ethan—and us, of course.”

Cara resisted the urge to bury her face in her hands. Sydney’s house was practically on top of her own. Which meant that every Friday and Saturday night, Cara sat at home, alone, pretending to watch Real Housewives on TiVo while trying to ignore the squeals and laughter from Sydney’s deck.

God, if only Zoe were here. A familiar twist of pain tightened Cara’s abdomen at the thought of her old best friend. She hadn’t seen Zoe since her family moved away in fifth grade. It was like her other half was missing.

Cara pushed her lunch aside and pulled a notebook from her bag. She doodled idly in the margins. She hadn’t thought about Zoe in a while, but recently, for some reason, her mind was filled with memories of her. The two of them climbing the wild grapevines in the woods behind Zoe’s house, pretending to be forest princesses. Trying to tame the neighbor’s crazy German shepherd with pieces of cupcake, then screaming when he barked. All the times Zoe had snuck into her bedroom at night through the window, crying because of her horrible stepdad. She’d climb under the comforter and Cara would stroke her silky dark hair until Zoe fell asleep.

They’d written to each other some after the move, but pretty soon the letters just stopped. Cara had a feeling her parents were relieved to have Zoe gone. They used to act so weird whenever Cara brought up her friend; it was like they thought Zoe and her family weren’t good enough. Not that they were really in a position to decide what was good for Cara. She’d been stuck with one babysitter after another until she was old enough to stay alone, all so Mom and Dad wouldn’t miss a single moment in the courtroom.

Cara looked down at her notebook. Without even realizing it, she’d drawn little pictures of her and Zoe all up and down the margins. She glanced around hurriedly, but no one had noticed. Sarit was staring fixedly at her phone, while Julie leaned over her shoulder, pointing out something on the screen. The others were cramming the rest of their lunches into their mouths. It was only a few minutes until the next bell. Quickly, Cara ripped out the page and stuffed it in the back pocket of her frayed navy chinos.

Just then, a girl’s shrill laugh rose above the rest of the noise in the cafeteria. Cara looked up. Across the room, Jack Penn slung Alexis up over his meaty shoulder, fireman-style.

“Stop it, Jack!” she screeched delightedly, pounding on his back with her manicured hands. He twirled her faster, and everyone at Cara’s table snickered. Finally Jack set Alexis on her feet. Then he leaned over and whispered something in her ear. She laughed like a donkey, showing all her teeth.

Cara kept her eyes fixed on Ethan as he sat across the table, his brow darkening. She couldn’t believe Alexis would flirt with Jack so obviously right in front of him. Ethan rose to his feet and leaned over, his palms on the table, as he said something to Alexis. Cara watched intently as they argued back and forth, Alexis’s arms crossed over her chest, Ethan scowling. She couldn’t hear what they were saying, but it didn’t take a neuroscientist to figure it out. He turned away as if to leave. Cara gripped the edge of the table so hard her fingertips turned white. But Alexis caught Ethan’s hand and pulled him toward her.

Cara closed her eyes for a long moment. When she opened them, Alexis and Ethan were locked in a passionate kiss, his arms around her waist, hers clutching his neck.

Cara slumped back in her chair. Of course. Same old story.

Ethan and Alexis got up and wove their way through the packed lunchroom toward the door. Ethan stopped every few feet to talk to people. Cara watched him high-five Ms. Sitwell, the school secretary, then sighed and stood up. She might as well get a head start on her calc homework. She folded her foil into a square and stuffed it back in her nylon sack, then nodded good-bye to the rest of the table. Sarit gave her a little wave, but the others didn’t even look up.

Stuffing the last bite of baby carrot into her mouth, Cara pushed in her chair. But one of the legs stuck, and Cara lurched a little against the table edge. She felt a chunk of unchewed carrot slide down the back of her tongue and lodge in her windpipe.

Automatically, Cara opened her mouth to cough. But no air came through. She leaned over and tried to cough again. Still nothing. Panic rising through her chest, she grabbed at her throat, clawing helplessly at her skin. She looked around wildly. No one had even noticed. They were all clustered around Julie, who was showing them some homework in a binder.

Her lungs were sending distress signals through her body. She could feel her chest tightening. Her eyes bulging, she waved her hands. Choking, I’m choking, she tried to telegraph. She tried to retch, but she felt the carrot lodge even more firmly in her throat. The noise around her swirled in a colorful chaos.

I’m dying, and no one’s going to notice.

She heard Sarit’s voice as if from a great distance. “Cara? Are you okay?”

She shook her head blindly, her hands at her throat. Julie’s voice rose. “Oh my God, Cara, what’s the matter?”

“She’s, like, turning blue!”

“Where? What’s the matter?”

A sea of faces danced in front of her. Then Cara felt a pair of arms like steel rods grab her around the middle. Two clasped fists slammed into her diaphragm, once and then twice. The carrot shot up over the back of her tongue and out of her open mouth. Cara watched it roll under the rack of dirty trays like a little orange pinball.

She coughed, a big, gaping open-mouthed hack. A string of drool hung down from her lip. She swiped at it and wheeled around, her face bright red and her eyes watering.

Ethan stood just behind her, his face creased with concern. “Are you okay?” he asked.

She nodded, staggering a little, and almost lost her balance. He caught at her arm, and a shock ran through her body at his touch. She coughed again. Her throat felt like it had been doused in battery acid. “Yeah,” she gasped. She swiped at her mouth, which was embarrassingly wet. “I’m okay.” Her voice came out gravelly. She caught sight of Alexis and Sydney staring at her behind Ethan’s shoulder. Alexis’s eyes were narrowed.

“Wow, good. That was scary.” Ethan released her arm. Cara nodded dumbly and looked around. After sending her a few big-eyed stares, the rest of the girls started drifting away. Her nose was running. She looked around for a tissue. She couldn’t stand here in front of Ethan Gray, after he had just saved her life, with a runny nose like a five-year-old. Cara spotted a napkin on the table and snatched it up. She pressed it to her nose as Ethan patted her shoulder. “Cool, glad you’re okay.” He brushed past her.

“Hey, um, thank—,” Cara started to say. But he was already heading back toward the door. Someone smelling of watermelon body spray brushed past her, uncomfortably close. “It’s amazing what some people will do for attention, isn’t it?” Alexis said loudly to Sydney.

“I know!” Sydney shot a meaningful glance at Cara, then paused, a little smile playing at the corners of her mouth. “Nice one, Choker.”

And then they glided away, leaving Cara alone, clutching her damp napkin, her chair overturned at her feet.

© 2011 Alloy Entertainment

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 42 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 42 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 11, 2011

    YA thriller

    I really enjoyed this mystery - psychological thriller. The blurb above pretty much tells you everything about the book except the ending. I pretty much gave up trying to write a review about the actual story since all of the minor details end up pointing to the ending and I would hate to give that away. If you are a careful reader, you can pretty much figure out "who did it" before the end of the book since there are several clues nicely placed through out the story. This one is geared towards older teens since there is alcohol/drug use, sexual situations and language.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 26, 2010

    Creepy and Suspenseful

    The publisher's blurb gets right to the heart of this book.

    When Cara was in fifth grade, her parents, both attorneys, moved to a new neighborhood, taking her away from her best friend Zoe. Although they were very solicitous of her after the move, eventually, they went back to working long hours, leaving Cara pretty much on her own.

    Although Cara is on the track team at Sherman High, she doesn't have any friends and feels like a total outsider. Not even her teammates make an effort to make conversation with her, even when she's sitting at their table in the lunchroom.

    One day during lunch, a carrot gets stuck in Cara's throat, and the only one who notices is Ethan Gray, captain of the boy's track team and Cara's crush. He performs the Heimlich maneuver on her and saves her life.

    Blonde and beautiful Alexis is Ethan's girlfriend. HER best friend is Sydney, Cara's next-door neighbor. They are the mean girls of the school, and immediately dub Cara "Choker", coming up to her in the hall and making gagging noises, humiliating her in front of everyone else.

    One day Cara comes home and Zoe is sitting on her bed, needing a place to stay because something "bad" happened at home and now she can't go back. Cara is so happy to see her and to have her best friend back that she decides to let Zoe stay in her bedroom, keeping her a secret from her parents. She finally has her best friend back, someone to confide in and complain about her life to.

    Suddenly bad things start to happen around Cara. A party at Sydney's house ends in tragedy, and it's easy for the reader to see what's going on, but Cara simply refuses to believe that her friend would have anything to do with it. We see how twisted and possessive Zoe is, but Cara is in denial. While Zoe helps Cara with her confidence and appearance, she also snaps at her and turns on her at various times for no reason.

    As I read, I could actually see this book as a movie. It is suspenseful, and I kept wondering who was next or what would happen next.

    All in all, this is a solid, satisfying read, appropriate for YA audiences, with references to violence, but no explicitly violent scenes. Pretty creepy all in all.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2011

    Biggest Shock Ever!!!!!!!

    Never in a million years would I have guessed the ending, I litterally gad to stop and think and then read it again, if you love a surprising and shocking ending then you will love this book

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 13, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Could have been better

    The book started out all right. I hated what the other girls did to Cara. They were awful and despicable. So, I did sympathize with her. For a while. Then she just got to me. She just seemed so, weak and a pushover at times. You couldn't help but get frustrated at her sometimes. When Zoe comes in, she does take an interesting personality change and Zoe is partly responsible for that. However, as the plot wore on, I rather guessed what was going on, and the underlying secret. I am not sure if the big secret was obvious to other readers who have read this book, but I did figure it out when Zoe starts to have a more prominent place in the story.

    Although it started off rather interesting, I could not help but lose interest. It was predictable, and Cara as a character just did improve and I stopped liking her. I felt sorry for her, but she didn't make herself likable at all. It came to the point where you can't feel sorry for her anymore she just became so...pathetic. She did manage to grow a spine, but it would shrink rapidly as well.

    Another thing I did not take kindly to was the animal cruelty mentioned in the book. It was horrible to read and to me, unnecessary. It was already evident that Zoe and Cara aren't really all "there" so I don't see why there had to be any mentioning of any animals being killed. The ending, well it was predictable, therefore it wasn't that exciting or a complete revelation to read. I thought there could have been more to the book.

    It's not a book I would recommend, I would say take it or leave it. I've read much better than this. It's predictable, and by the time you finished the book you find it lacking in something, perhaps a new twist should have been brought in, or something that would have brought the plot to a more interesting level.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 16, 2011

    BookWhisperer Rating: Choker

    Choker is a truly terrifying realistic story. True horror is what you find when you read a book such as this. Cara Lange is what seems a totally ordinary child; it is incredible to experience a novel such as this. The reality of this novel will keep readers on the edge of their seat, and reflecting on the story well after the last pages. Slower pace seems to add minimal struggle through the story, but overall it is captivating and an intriguing read. The ending was so unexpected that it blew me away. Having read other books that follow the same kind of storyline it had crossed my mind that it could fall apart this way, but I had wrote it off finally believing that it was not possible. The suspense that Woods offers in Choker is incredible powerful promising for a surprise.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 12, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Great Premise

    I'll get the bad out of the way first. In retrospect, I think that I would have enjoyed this novel a little more if I wouldn't have guessed the plot within the first 75 pages of reading. Sometimes, when I do that, everything that leads up to the "big reveal" seems oh so very obvious. I also felt as though Cara was channeling her inner Bella Swan with her constantly convenient clumsiness. By that I mean she was too clumsy, but only when it seemed convenient in the story for her to be clumsy.

    With that being said, let's move onto the things that I did like. The cover is absolutely stunning and I am in love with it. And looking past the obviousness for me, there were some very good plot twists and more darkness to the novel than I thought there would be. Zoe was a crazy character and I found myself spooked by her on more than one occasion. Clumsiness aside, I was also very sympathetic of Cara - even up to the bitter end. However, my absolute favorite character by far was Ethan ... and that boy went through entirely too much in this novel!

    Elizabeth Woods is an amazing writer and I cannot give enough praise for how well-written and detailed this book is. She does an incredible job at fleshing out all of her characters, down to Cara's mom's cat - who I found to be a lot like my own spoiled fat cat. Like I said, I enjoyed this read ... I just guessed the plot too soon and it kind of spoiled it for me. This, however, is no cut toward the author - who's work I will follow because she's such a talented writer.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2014


    I honestly found this book very chilling, and the ending left me a little haunted. I hadn't really expected it, but if I read it again, I'm sure there might be some hints suggesting the evidence of what was happening all along.
    The thing that bothered me the most was the extremely descriptive things that were done to the animals throughout this book. I felt there wasn't really a need to include those disturbing, overly realistic details, but I suppose it did add a bit of a dark element to the plot. It really left me a little upset though, especially cerrtain scenes and details that I'm still haunted about.
    Overall, I liked the book and felt it left me thinking- and didn't have a neat, happy ending like most of the books today. As revealed throughout this book, the title Choker had more than one meaning to it, and was a very suspenseful story that left you thinking.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2013


    My brain dead librarian recommended this to me. I am in 6th grade. This is the creepiest book I have ever read. DO NOT READ ITS NOT WORTH THE MONEY

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 28, 2013

    Let's talk a bit about how covers can be duplicitous.  Here we h

    Let's talk a bit about how covers can be duplicitous.  Here we have a pretty pink cover, white winter trees, a long stemmed rose and some lovely handwriting.  Sure the title sounds ominous but how dark could this book possibly be?  Take into consideration that the angle of the trees is what someone who is on their back (like, perhaps, someone who's just been murdered in the woods) might be looking at and you get some idea of just how dark this book can get.  This cover is entirely representative of the story.  Choker is a thriller disguised as a contemporary.  Woods somehow managed to fit two different plot lines into just under 240 pages.  There were several times while reading this book that I forgot it was supposed to be a thriller at all.  I just wanted Cara to win the guy of her dreams and actually make some real friends.  That is probably what made this story so unsettling.  Woods manages to catch the reader off guard by luring them into their comfort zone just before delivering her blows.

    First of all we have Cara, our main character.  She is the quintessential high school outcast.  She doesn't really have any close friends, she's super awkward and she can't seem to relate to anyone.  She's pretty miserable overall.  She's being bullied by the school's resident mean girls, their leader is dating the guy Cara is in love with.  Then her childhood friend, Zoe, appears and starts camping out in Cara's bedroom.  She starts helping Cara build up her self confidence and everything starts getting better.  It's all well and good until the bodies start piling up and Zoe seems pretty comfortable with it.  

    The "thriller" aspect of the story is an ever-present force that guides the story along without over-shadowing it.  This creates an incredibly tense and upsetting atmosphere throughout the book.  Everything seems more realistic and that's what makes it so frightening.  I saw the ending coming from a mile away but that didn't make it any less disturbing when my fears came to fruition.  This is definitely not the book for you if you like neat, tidy, happy endings.   This one stays with you for awhile and was truly and excellent read.  I'd recommend this if you are looking for something more psychological and dark than a crime thriller.  

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  • Posted July 7, 2012

    I know, I am going to use the word ‘CREEPY’, yes..

    I know, I am going to use the word ‘CREEPY’, yes..yes.....I could get the thesaurus out and look up another word, but I’m not going to. This story has awesome creepiness that clings to you.

    Oh hush, these book covers do not give you any indication what you are in for. Like blimey a pink cover or the cover with Cara on the front.

    Seriously!! Creepy, creepy and a little wrong in parts..ha! Which doesn’t make for a bad book, it actually was a real page turner.
    I really enjoyed this lunch sized novel. I did, reasonably early into the story have about four theories in my head, one kind of stuck pretty strongly and I was right. But that’s not to say that others will pick up on what the story would eventually reveal.

    I think Mr. Tim O’Rourke’s writing has taught my brain to really think differently, he is the master of deceit, so I couldn’t help doing brain gymnastics with this story. There were a couple little side order things I didn’t pick up on and I love a title to a book that means something to the story.

    I am completely overriding for my review rating, that I worked out the plot, as the book was really well written and made me ‘feel’ quite tense the whole time. I was hoping I was wrong as I was thinking how sad it would be if I was right. I didn’t want to be right, darn it!
    I did have a chuckle and Elizabeth had me reaching for Goodreads to see if she was an Australian author ( no she is not) because she wrote about an orange newsreader.....hehe!!! We have one of those on our television news . Like the girl is orange, not that there is anything wrong with that, no offence meant. I am a real white you know we all could do with a tan.

    This appears a stand alone book and I have already written to the publisher putting my 2c in for a plot thought for a second book . I know, presumptuous of me, but I could not help seeing a direction this story could take. This would make me suck up my theory big time and spin all the readers who maybe did work out the direction the story was going and pull a ‘’ at all of us...or not..hehe!!! I am just a housewife blogger, what do I know.

    One particular chappy I felt sorry for, and I really love his character and want to read more about him. So, maybe this is my way of getting more Ethan * waggles eyebrows*.

    Cara’s character could be misconstrued to be a tad annoying with how easily she lets Zoe dictate to her. But you have to read the whole book. A friendship like they have , there is always a leader and a follower. A weaker and a stronger person in the relationship.
    Visually I really saw every scene really clearly. It was almost like watching a little movie in my head, especially, some of the extra creeptastic scenes. Like yowzer!!

    I recommend this book for those that like some extra creepiness with a strawberry on top....mwah...ha....ha.....haaaaaa!!!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2011

    Absolutly amazing!!!!!!

    So unpredictable. One of the best books ive evee read. A MUST read!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 2011

    It was good but predictable.

    It was good but the first the first time Zoe appeared in Caras life again, I predicted the ending. I mean, it was kinda obvious. There were just so many signs. The most prominent sign to me were the times when Cara would imagine whatever Zoe would say or do in a particular situation and then try to act it out. It may have seemed to others that Cara was just trying to act as brave as her friend but to me, the way Cara convinced herself that she was sure this was what Zoe would do in this situation, it made me uber-suspicious. Since I guessed everything from the start, when it came down to being revealed that Cara was Coo Coo, I wasnt that shocked at all. There were parts that shocked me however, like when Caras parents recommended that she go see her therapist, when they said that Cara had Zoe as an imaginary friend from since she was young and when they revealed that Cara hadnt been taking her medication. I believe that Cara has Multiple Personality Disorder instead of imaginary friend hallucinations since Cara cant remember the actual crimes she committed and Zoe only appears when times are rough for Cara. There are a few things I wonder about though, Zoes " abuse " and the crime Zoe seemed to have committed back at " home " before " running away ". I wonder what Cara did in place of those events, if she had killed someone somewhere and has suffered any kind of abuse.

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  • Posted October 9, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Thrilling Read

    A really intense book that had some predictable parts, but yes still made me gasp in shock. The min characters of Cara and Zoe were once young best friends who got into all sorts of things, but when Cara moved away, her world seemed to stop and she became more of a loner. Even though she is on the track team, she barely has any friends and no matter what she does all she gets is taunts and mean thoughts. When Zoe comes back she's a different girl. She at times is very nice to Cara and other times is very mean and biting. But the secrets that come out in this book are truly surprising and you never expect them. Its a great fast read and awesome if you like suspense.

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  • Posted August 4, 2011


    I was reading the book thinking I had the mystery down packed and all of a sudden this twist comes out of no where which made me throw my book on the ground yelling "What The Heck!!". My friends was wondering if something was wrong and of course it was! I let one of them read it and she was sucked into the book. Once I saw her finsh it she threw it on the ground as well! The book should be a movie!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2011

    Surprisingly good :)

    This book was actually better than i expected. The cover caught my eye when i was browsing and ince i started reading i was surprised. This book s main character was very easy to make connections to and kind of reminded me of myself. The events that were in the novel were very exciting and made me as a reader think about them. The ending was the best part with a surprising and unexpected twist which made it the highlight of the whole book. This is a must read!

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  • Posted March 26, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    I'm glad I bought it! (might be a spoiler)

    I really enjoyed the whole plot and every charater...something happening each chapter made it even better! The ending made me mad, but I loved the book anyway! Buy it---it's worth it!

    The big question: is Cara really crazy or is Zoe actually real!!!???

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  • Posted March 20, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Best friends can either make you or break you

    Wow. Just WOW. choker filled me with an unexpected yet delightful horror that I am still reeling from the shocking - just SHOCKING - ending! Holy fudge sundae, I get to know a book for the first 2/3 of the story, only to get sucker-punched with no real warning! Not cool - and yet I loved it! :) I could totally relate to Cara with my fair share of humiliating high school memories, although I never had to endure any Mean Girls treatment (thank goodness!). No, but I can sympathize with Cara's feelings of loneliness and feeling like an outsider who can never quite fit into anywhere. Not to mention the major crushing on the cutest boy in school who is seven-leagues away from ever noticing a quiet mouse of a girl Zoe, on the other hand, was just plain weird - and Cara never really got into figuring out why. She simply rolled with it. Zoe stole her mom's zombie pills and dares Cara to take some? Okay. Zoe has run away and wants to stay with Cara? Okay. Zoe doesn't want Cara's parents to know she's back? Okay. Zoe smells dirty and has yellowed teeth, but seems fine with it? Okay. Zoe had poisoned the old neighbor's dog when they were kids? Okay. Zoe persuades Cara to kiss her to "practice" for the real making-out with Ethan? Okay. o_O <--my face as I want to shake some sense into Cara. Just thinking about Zoe makes me shiver still. choker will definitely thrill and chill as the incredibly creepy story unfolds, and I admit the truth seems so obvious that it really blindsides you. I almost cried for Cara at the end when everything finally came out in the open! Not to mention her crush Ethan - poor, poor guy - I can't imagine how messed up he will be for the years to follow. If you love to torture yourself with horror movies (i.e. nearly pee your pants as you jump in your chair and then laugh at your reaction afterward), I can see how choker might be a perfect addition to the bookshelf. It is definitely different from the usual pop-and-sparkle that I tend to read - this is one for the broad daylights, dear Readers, or under the bedsheets with a flashlight if you feel dramatic.

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  • Posted March 19, 2011


    Exciting and captivating mystery! Couldn't put it down. A little predictable

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  • Posted March 14, 2011

    more from this reviewer


    enticing book...imagery and sensory details needed work.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2011

    Great Read!

    Well... choker was a great book.... one of my favorites to read! It was not that suspenseful because i guessed the outcome but it still kept me on the edge of my seat not knowing what was around the corner. The character development and plot was great... i really felt like i was there!I recommended this book to all my friends. It was a chilling mystery and i really do hope that there is a sequel! I would like to know what happens to Zoe and Cara, and i really hope that Cara proves that Zoe is real or she is really real! I recomend this book! I WANNA SEQUEL! HAHA!

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