Skip to main content

I Killed Zoe Spanos: YA Book Review


I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick
Overview: Zoe Spanos disappeared from her tiny Hampton's town over winter break. The town can't imagine what happened to her. Zoe was beloved, always a good kid, going to an Ivy League, from a perfect family, and was even in a long term, committed relationship. The police decide she must have just run away. When Anna comes to town, everyone looks at her a second too long because she looks just like Zoe. Over the course of the summer spent babysitting for one of the elite, Hampton's families, Anna gets increasingly involved in Zoe's cold case through a podcast produced by a local high schooler. The more she learns about Zoe and the longer she lives in town, the more strange memories come to the surface until she's left scared that she killed Zoe Spanos. The truth is so much more complex than anyone could have expected. Overall: 4

Characters: 4 Our main character in this twisty web of people is Anna. She's at the center of it all whether she's playing the roll of nervous babysitter or someone who just confessed to manslaughter.  Anna's past has a lot of holes in it from her many nights getting blackout drunk at parties with her friends in Brooklyn. Going to the Hamptons is a way to turn over a new leaf. It's fun to navigate through this small beach town through her eyes as she makes new friends and connections. I loved getting to see her interact with Paisley, the girl she's babysitting. It's clear that there are plenty of gaps from the start, and she's clearly forgetful, but she has these weird echoes of having been all these places before- of having known Zoe. Without the help she needs to piece it together, her panic grows slowly louder as she forms a story in her head that points to her having killed a girl she never met.
There are so many minor character in this book that work to make the story as twisty as it is, so it's impossible to go over all of them. The major players are Caden, Zoe's boyfriend of over four years who was out of town when she disappeared, Martina, the high school podcast producer who is best friends with Zoe's little sister, Aster, Zoe's sister who never gives quite the right impression, and Max Adler, who gives off bad vibes for no apparent reason. The parents and their lives as well as Anna's friends from Brooklyn contribute to expanding the worlds and all interlock in fascinating ways in the end. Over the course of the book, we solve a couple mysteries, lock these characters into place, figure out Anna's ties to Herron Mills, and even discover the identity of her missing father.

Plot: 5 This book is a major roller coaster on a variety of levels. Frick is a master at setting up perfect thought paths that get disrupted and don't pan out. She sets up layers of confusion while also putting in careful clues that stand out when you reflect on the book as a whole. It's very carefully plotted and gives reveals that only click into place seconds before the characters announce them. Everything comes to a logical conclusion, even when you're wondering if the book will just take off with a turn towards the paranormal. The book doesn't shy away from firmly establishing characters and place through scenes that usually belong in contemporary novels as we become firmly rooted in Anna's summer of babysitting as one of three storylines. I'm assuming this was a way to build trust between her and the reader before the mystery slides into full swing. While most of the past summer story feels like a breezy contemporary, the flash forwards to juvie,  confessions, and the podcast keep the threatening, questioning, mysterious feelings in the air.

Writing: 4 The writing style took me a second to get into. The structure she uses is quite complex and can sometimes be confusing. There are the now chapters written in third person that bounce through the aftermath of Anna's confession and reveal twists and turns to complement what we learn in the then sections. The main storyline is the then where we meet Anna, in the first person, and go on her summer in the Hamptons. Then there's the podcast transcripts (that are very well done) that give us, and Anna, all the details on Zoe's disappearance that you've been wondering about. At the end, there's also a first person chapter from the killer, though it's slightly confusing because, in the past, first person was only used for Anna when the killer is open to being anyone.
Overall, I'd say these three threads were handled very well. All the plot notes hit in the proper places to make all the parts sing in unison. The third person pieces definitely improved as the story went on, but they start out a little clunky. In an attempt to make it seem deeply atmospheric (and pull from the Rebecca inspiration), the writing gets away from Frick a little and almost made me quit with the first chapter. The first person narrative flows much more naturally from the beginning, and the podcast transcripts are built well. The writing eventually becomes something you don't notice anymore, which shows how good the story is, but expect a slow burn on everything getting started and to the action.  It's nearly 400 pages, and you can feel that in the book.

More Like This...
The Best Lies

Latest Video:
Mid Year Freakout Tag

Visit My Bookshop
(Affiliate Link; I may make a small percentage from these sales at no cost to you)

Links of Interest:

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Swimming Lessons By Lili Reinhart Poetry Review

Swimming Lessons by Lili Reinhart Overall: 5This is the first poetry book I've ever read in its entirety outside of Shel Silverstein, so I've checked off one of my reading goals for the year with this one. I've now read a graphic novel and a book of poetry. I've been anticipating Swimming Lessons so long that I can't believe it's actually in my hands. I've been a fan of Lili since Riverdale, and I've continued to be a fan of hers even when the show got a bit too ridiculous for me to keep watching every week. I've been excited for the chance to get to see something completely created a controlled by Lili. I'm not sure what I expected from Swimming Lessons. I think I had almost no idea what it would be like or the topics it would cover. After the first couple poems, I was completely hooked. In the intro, Lili prefaces the collection by noting that poetry has always given her solace in knowing other people felt the same specific emotions that she d…

Fear of Missing Out

Fear of Missing Out by Kate McGovern 
Overview: Astrid has a form of brain cancer called astrocytoma that causes a star shaped tumor to form near her brainstem. Though she was in remission, two years later, the cancer comes back, and Astrid becomes convinced that she won't beat the disease. She starts to pursue options that will allow her to have a life in the future, namely, cryopreservation. After essentially freezing her body, she hopes to wake up when there's a cure for her cancer so she can rejoin the world and see some of the milestones she fears missing.
On the road trip to tour the Arizona facility, though, Astrid makes other realizations about her life and eventual death that alters how she sees her original plan. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 Astrid is relatable. She has a touch of dry, witty humor that makes her relatable. She loves her friends and family deeply, but she also has a conviction to follow what feels best for her. I appreciated how she always tried to stay ho…

How It All Blew Up: YA Book Review

How It All Blew Up by Arvin AhmadiOverview: Amir left before graduation. He just drove out of town and got on a plane to New York and then another on to Italy. Instead of paying the blackmail money or facing his conservative, Iranian family's reaction to him being outed as gay, he runs. In Rome, he stumbles into a found family of gay guys, many American, who take him under their wing. With these new friends in Rome, Amir feels like he can truly be himself for once in his life. With the money from editing Wikipedia pages, he wonders if he can just stay in Italy forever. But when he can't ignore his family's calls and drama starts up in the friend group, Amir realizes that you can't keep running forever. Overall: 4Characters: 4 Amir is well developed, and I enjoyed living in his brain. He's lost and constantly scared, but he also has a fearless streak that gets him to Rome in the first place. Most of all, he's confused. He feels like his identities contradict eac…

This Is All Your Fault Blog Tour Stop

Hi, everybody! Today, I'm a part of a book tour for Turn the Pages Tours letting you know about Aminah Mae Safi's book, This Is All Your Fault. If you've always dreamed about working in a bookstore, this new book will be perfect for you. It's about a group of teen booksellers who have to band together to help save the store. Check out the full description down below to get to know the book and learn more about Aminah through her author bio and the links to her social media! If you want to pick up the book right now, I'll leave a link to the book on Bookshop here which helps support the blog because it's an affiliate link, which means the blog might get a small commission from your purchase at no extra cost to you. It's a great way to support the blog while shopping for books! If you'd rather not shop at Bookshop, here's the general purchase linkDescription: Set over the course of one day, Aminah Mae Safi's This Is All Your Fault is a smart and…

September 2020 Wrap Up

I've honestly been stuck on what to write for this wrap up. I guess I'm surprised that September is finally over? It's been another boringly eventful month. I've been much busier trying to balance two blogs, YouTube, and college. I feel like I'm managing everything okay, but it's still a lot to process on some days when you factor in everything else going on in the world. I'm in a weird place of feeling totally lost and stagnant and also like I'm making some major strides towards getting where I want to go. It's hard to remember that it takes a long time build something up, and the process is something to enjoy too. I'm trying not to dwell on what's out of my control. Reflecting back on the month, I've accomplished a lot more than I felt like I did when I sat down to write this. A lot of what I'm most proud of myself, I'm not going to talk about in a ton of detail yet because I'm super superstitious about talking about things…

Books I'm Looking Forward To: October 2020

October means fall, Halloween, and some brand new books! This is a short list this time with a couple books I've had my eyes on for a while. As always, if you want to preorder a copy of any of these books (it helps authors a ton), I have preorder links to Bookshop through my affiliate page. That means shopping these links might give me a small commission at no cost to you! It's a great way to support the blog. Let me know in the comments which books you're looking forward to most in October. Also, I'd love YA thriller recommendations. I'm looking forward to doing another Halloween post like two years ago featuring some newer thrillers/creepy books. Let me know if you have a favorite. Also, don't forget to check out my September Favorites YouTube VideoOne Way or Another by Kara McDowellOctober 6Get a CopyI'm in the middle of reading this one now! In just a couple days, Kara will be releasing a brand new book. Paige has an impossible choice. Go with her lon…

Clap When You Land: YA Book Review

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth AcevedoTW: sex trafficking, sexual assault, grief, loss of a parentClick Here To Get a Copy! Overview: Camino and Yahaira are sisters, but they don't know it yet. Camino's dad spends most of the year in NYC making money to send back to the Dominican Republic. Yaharia's father always spent the summers away doing business in the Dominican Republic. They don't know that when their dad is gone, he's really visiting the other daughter until his plane crashes into the Atlantic Ocean. The aftermath and grieving process bring them together. While the grief and loss leaves a giant hole, it also opens new possibilities. Overall: 4Characters: 5 Yahaira and Camino are both super relatable. Their voices are so similar yet distinct, and you can see how growing up in two different cultures, yet still heavily influenced by each other, developed their points of view. Camino has a lot of assumptions about her American sister, assuming their rich and t…

Into YA with Kristina Forest

I'm super excited to bring you another edition of Into YA, this time with one of my new favorite YA authors, Kristina Forest. While I'm sure you've already heard about Now That I've Found You, you can get caught up by reading my review here. Thank you to Kristina for taking the time to chat with me, and I hope you enjoy our conversation. If you want to help support the blog, please consider grabbing a copy through my Bookshop affiliate link here1. In Now That I Found You, all of your main characters are famous. Evie and her family are huge in the film industry, and love interest, Milo, is on the rise with his band. Did that require extra research to write about for either the music or film industries?
It didn’t require much research. I’ve always been interested in old Hollywood and I’m a big fan of movies and music, and I’ve watched dozens of documentaries and/or biopics so I felt pretty prepared to write the story without having to do additional research.
2. Once Ev…

Grown: YA Book Reviews

Grown by Tiffany D. JacksonTW: (from the title page of the book) sexual abuse, rape, assault, child abuse, kidnapping, and addiction to opioids Overview: Enchanted just wants to be a singer. Living in the suburbs, she doesn't know how this will happen until she gets noticed by Korey Fields at an audition. She doesn't make the show, but she gets taken under his wing. She just wants a career, and she wants to be loved, and she wants to be told she's beautiful. Korey does all that and more. He also has money and power- more things Enchanted lacks. She wants to be an adult and take life on, but she's fallen into the hands of an abuser and master manipulator. Coming out the other side leaves Korey dead and Enchanted trying to find her footing. Overall: 5Characters: 5 All of these characters are extremely vivid. Enchanted is such a good main character. She has confidence and is so smart. But you can see her little vulnerabilities that Korey expertly exploits. It's clear …

Is YA For Me?

I've seen a lot of different conversations taking place on Twitter that all come back to a central theme. The YA space is controlled by adults. For the most part, they are the ones with the purchasing power, they have jobs in the industry, they are in a better position to amplify their voices about how they feel about different books and the category as a whole. I've been thinking about these conversations as a whole, and it really does come back to the intended audience not owning the space and what that means for the category and the conversations around it.
As a teen who's heavily involved in the YA community, I sometimes feel awkward reading all the different, slightly varied takes from adults. Some make blanket statements for themselves and some work with teens and try to be a conduit to add them to the conversation. Very rarely do I come across a real teen who gets an amplified voice in the conversation (definitely go check out Vicky Who Reads on Twitter because, as…