Book Recommendation: Choker

18 Jan

By Sammy Bina

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A few weeks ago we mentioned a little something called the 2011 Debut Author Challenge. Basically, our goal at LTWF is to read and recommend to you at least twelve 2011 debut novels over the coming months. I recently picked up a copy of Elizabeth Woods’ debut, CHOKER. While it didn’t make it to the top of my list, I think there are a lot of things to like about the book, and a good chance many of you would appreciate it.

Cara’s a loner who doesn’t really fit in at school. Her parents are workaholics, and she’s crushing on Ethan, a guy who’s dating the most popular girl in school. She’s content to keep to herself until her childhood best friend, Zoe, shows up. Zoe’s on the run from her abusive stepfather, and Cara promises to hide her until they can come up with a better plan. Zoe’s confidence and overwhelming personality begin to rub off on Cara, and pretty soon she’s being invited to parties and, most importantly, hanging out with Ethan. But when girls begin to wind up dead, Cara has a feeling Zoe had something to do with it. When Ethan becomes the primary suspect, she’ll do whatever it takes to prove he’s innocent.

I have to admit, I liked the book better in retrospect. While I was reading it, I sometimes thought a character was a bit cliche, and on a few occasions found it hard to identify with Cara. She’s interesting, and the voice helps the reader connect with her; there were just a few times I felt a bit disengaged.

Still, Zoe’s character more than makes up for any of Cara’s flaws. From the prologue to the very last page, every moment she was “on screen,” a shiver would run down my spine. Her words and actions are often disturbing and royally creepy, and haunted me well after I’d turned the page. That, my friends, is a sign of good writing.

The mystery aspect of the book was what initially made me pick it up. I haven’t read a lot of YA books with any sort of mystery involved in quite a while, so I was excited to see that CHOKER wasn’t just a story about reconnecting with old friends. There are two murders throughout the book, and as a reader it was fun to try to figure out who the killer was. Granted, I was very wrong in my guess, but that’s beside the point. There’s a twist at the end which is the real reason I think a lot of people will enjoy this book. Once I’d finished, and was able to reflect on the entire plot, some things made a lot more sense, and I found the way the book was written to be quite clever. I read the reviews after I’d read the book, and I wasn’t the only person fooled. I won’t say more than that, for fear of giving everything away. But for those of you who enjoy mind-games, this book is full of them. Definitely pick it up if you get the chance!

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Sammy Bina is enjoying her last semester of college as a creative writing major. She is currently revising her YA dystopian, SILENCE, and is an intern for the Elaine P. English Literary Agency. You can find her on twitter, or follow her blog.

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13 Responses to “Book Recommendation: Choker”

  1. Brown Eyed Mystic January 18, 2011 at 12:07 AM #

    The first look does make me feel Cara and Ethan are a bit too cliched. And if I were at a book-store, I might pass up the opportunity to get it by reading the initial bits, just so they happen to redo what many other YA books have already done.

    Just like you were fooled in the end, I think many prospective readers would be fooled before they began the book.

    There’s a lesson in here though: Never judge a book by its . . . first impressions!

    Thanks for the recommendation, Sammy.

    -BrownEyed

    • Sammy Bina January 18, 2011 at 1:18 PM #

      You’re right, which is exactly the reason I made sure to recommend it. I didn’t want anyone to miss out on a book that isn’t at all what it seems. I think the more I reflect on it, the more I like it, and I hope others feel the same way once they read it.

    • TymCon January 18, 2011 at 4:18 PM #

      I haven’t read the book but it sounds like she did a bit of a writers no no. Like writing a book that people think is one thing and then fooling the reader at the end. That’s all and well and good, but you’re pretty much alienatign the readers.
      I’m probably wrong. And i’m just spewing things i’ve heard from authors:P

      • Sammy Bina January 19, 2011 at 10:09 PM #

        Maybe if I’d done some more research before I read the book, I wouldn’t have been as surprised. Obviously I knew there would be a mystery involved, I just wasn’t expecting one aspect of it. So maybe it was more of a surprise than an inaccurate portrayal of what the reader was expecting. Either way, I still think it was pretty good!

  2. brandimziegler January 18, 2011 at 2:01 AM #

    Ah, now I remember what the 2011 Debut Author Challenge is about. I love that idea 🙂

    • Sammy Bina January 18, 2011 at 1:18 PM #

      It really is fantastic! There are SO many great looking books coming out this year and I can’t wait to get my hands on them!

  3. Julie Eshbaugh January 18, 2011 at 9:24 AM #

    Hey Sammy! Great recommendation! I’ve also noticed the void of YAs with mystery. 😡 This book sounds fantastic; bring on the mind games!

    • Sammy Bina January 18, 2011 at 1:19 PM #

      You know, Naomi and I were talking about that over the summer — how there’s definitely a void that could be filled. I’m hoping that happens, because I actually really like mysteries. Hello, Nancy Drew? Boxcar Children? Oh, sweet childhood!

      And if you read CHOKER, let me know what you think!

  4. Laura Diamond January 18, 2011 at 10:06 AM #

    Hmmm, interesting. I love how you give such a detailed review!!! Thanks!

    • Sammy Bina January 18, 2011 at 1:20 PM #

      You’re welcome, Laura! Hopefully I’ve talked you into picking up a copy 😉

  5. Savannah J. Foley January 19, 2011 at 12:13 PM #

    I love twist endings 🙂

    • Sammy Bina January 19, 2011 at 10:09 PM #

      Sav, I think you’d probably like this one.

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    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by patricia johnson, Let The Words Flow. Let The Words Flow said: Book Recommendation! @SammyBina chooses Choker by 2011 debut author Elizabeth Woods: http://t.co/CIrHYV6 #amreading #books […]

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