Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Contemporary
Published: January 4th, 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
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?"~Goodreads
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.