Review: I Killed Zoe Spanos

Today, I’m reviewing the perfect mystery to binge during this scorching weather: I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick. Thank you so much to Audrey Gibbons at Simon and Schuster US for the eARC. Strap yourself in, as this is a long review!

What happened to Zoe won’t stay buried…

When Anna Cicconi arrives to the small Hamptons village of Herron Mills for a summer nanny gig, she has high hopes for a fresh start. What she finds instead is a community on edge after the disappearance of Zoe Spanos, a local girl who has been missing since New Year’s Eve. Anna bears an eerie resemblance to Zoe, and her mere presence in town stirs up still-raw feelings about the unsolved case. As Anna delves deeper into the mystery, stepping further and further into Zoe’s life, she becomes increasingly convinced that she and Zoe are connected–and that she knows what happened to her.

Two months later, Zoe’s body is found in a nearby lake, and Anna is charged with manslaughter. But Anna’s confession is riddled with holes, and Martina Green, teen host of the Missing Zoe podcast, isn’t satisfied. Did Anna really kill Zoe? And if not, can Martina’s podcast uncover the truth?

TW: racism, schizophrenia, murder, drowning, grief, arson, cheating, guilt, drug use, overdose, ableism

My Thoughts:

Anything that is compared to Sadie, one of my all time favourite books, is something that I instantly need in my life. When you combine that with a razor-sharp mystery and the fact that it’s inspired by Rebecca, you have me utterly sold. 

Frick takes the essence of Rebecca in all its shine-chilling, Gothic beauty and infuses it into a thrilling mystery. It reignites the spirit of the classic and gives it a fresh and new feel to it. Information is drip-fed to you through multiple timelines, allowing for a slow build of atmosphere and this constant unsettling sense of not being able to trust anyone. Everyone is a suspect and for a lot of the book you’ll go back and forth on whether Anna indeed committed the crime. That sense of déjà vu that haunts Rebecca is so prevalent here, with Anna’s uncanny resemblance to Zoe and the secrets that are slowly unravelled. Every character is carefully sketched out so a cloud of secrets looms above them, with salacious hints of affairs, obsession and scandals. 

The mystery is so well-constructed and imagined. You become utterly wrapped up, spawning theories left and right as new clues are uncovered. Frick has crafted an incredible riveting mystery that makes it so hard to stop reading. As I read, my mind kept whirring as it thought up new potential theories. When a book consumes your every waking thought, you know it’s a good one and it’s what a mystery should achieve. Frick delivers all that and more. It’s definitely worth re-reading, as it’s so interesting to see the breadcrumb trail of tiny hints that lead up to the big reveals. Like any good mystery writer, Frick tosses us a multitude of plot hints, threads and potential red herrings to keep you constantly on your toes. You really can’t trust anyone you meet. Throughout reading, you have to be constantly suspicious and looking for clues. This type of engagement in a book is so rare and it is an impressive feat. 

I Killed Zoe Spanos utilises two alternating timelines (earlier in the summer and after the confession) and interludes of the podcast. It is the latter feature that reminds readers of Sadie, as it feels like such a real podcast that would definitely be a smash-hit. Using this allows the reader to feel more involved and part of the story, keeping you glued to the page. However, it is also similar to Sadie in its incisive, deeply feminist writing. Frick offers biting social commentary on the role of women and privilege, including an excellent conversation about white privilege. A lot of the book revolves around both media and public perceptions of people, showing how easily these can be manipulated and influenced by our own implicit biases. Frick plays with these expectations expertly, often exploiting assumptions that you may have made in order to surprise you. 

On the flipside, Frick also offers a quieter study of guilt and grief alongside the dramatic mystery. It’s an emotionally charged story with a lot of introspective character study. This is particularly evident through Anna’s perspective. She may be somewhat unreliable and untrustworthy but you can only reveal the truth by peeking into her mind. The structure really complimented the twisty nature of the story so much and the parallels within it. For example, the book’s opening and closing lines are both ‘I killed Zoe Spanos’, giving it this unsettling feeling of inevitable destruction. 

I Killed Zoe Spanos is a stand-out YA thriller of 2020, with a dark and entrancing tone that will keep you hooked until that explosive final reveal. 

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

I will continue to speak up about current events now and forever and to help, here are links to Carrds talking about many of the world’s current events and how you can help. Also, I’ve linked here the Black Lives Matter Carrd to support, but also here is a list of resources to aid Anti-Racism work in the UK, as well as UK specific places to donate to. I will be doing this on every post. If you have the funds to donate, please do but if not, please support and uplift Black voices and sign the petitions. 

3 thoughts on “Review: I Killed Zoe Spanos

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