by Kit Frick
“‘I’m sorry,’ I whisper out loud, although I’m not sure quite why. I’m sorry we look alike? I’m sorry you’re gone, and I’m here, in Herron Mills, where you should be? I’m sorry I stepped unwittingly into your life? I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know.
‘I’m sorry,’ I say again. the urge to apologize is strong, the need clawing at my throat like angry talons. ‘I’m so sorry, Zoe.'”
Ratings & Reviews
Book Grade: A-
I Killed Zoe Spanos is a quick and clever book, balancing the past, present, and an investigative podcast. Shortly after Anna’s confession scene, the story flashes to June when Anna comes to Herron Mills to begin her new nannying job. Within a few pages, I grew confused – how could Anna have killed Zoe when she has never been to Herron Mills? That mystery persists and is part of the central plot. I wasn’t going crazy (as I initially feared), but I had noticed a key plot point – how could Anna have killed Zoe when she didn’t even know her? This twisted plot (along with a few other mysteries that pop up throughout the story) kept me engaged and curious. I found it hard to see Anna as a killer, but I also grew to understand her shady past which she is trying to outgrow and outrun.
Anna is a complicated character with a history of partying too hard; she views her time at Herron Mills as a chance for a fresh start, and it is hard not to feel badly for her as she tries to navigate her way in a town which continues to compare her to Zoe.
Overall, I really liked the twists and turns and the ending that I didn’t see coming. The only reason I marked this down a bit was because there were a few aspects of the resolution that I found a bit hard to believe. Perhaps I was too critical because the author tied all the pieces together, but I will leave that to you as the reader to decide.
Movie Rating: R
I Killed Zoe Spanos is a gritty read with a wild party girl protagonist. When we first meet Anna, she is just beginning her new life with a summer away as a nanny. She is hoping to have a chance to redeem herself and give up her old ways before starting college. Anna used to be the kind of girl who would drink until blacking out and willingly tried any substance put before her. Realizing that she was trying to escape her dissatisfaction with herself, she turns over a new leaf.
When flashing back, though, there are plenty of references to random hookups, drunkenness, drugs, and generally poor decisions that left Anna feeling totally unfulfilled. Perhaps it was her neglectful mother who chose not to really parent, or perhaps it was her way of trying to block out the pain of being abandoned by her father; whatever it is, Anna makes a point of not partying or drinking while in Herron Mills.
Then-Anna and now-Anna are in total contrast, so the wild girl who made decisions she regrets is nowhere to be seen in Nantucket. Nonetheless, there are plenty of scenes that promote risky behavior. Swearing, sex, and drugs are simultaneously normalized and frowned upon, making this book really a better fit for more mature readers who will be able to handle this in stride.
Would I Buy This for My Library: Yes
I Killed Zoe Spanos is clever and quick – it is a completely contemporary YA mystery, but it is packed with classic suspense details. This has a captivating cover (and fancy blue pages that make it extra fun) and will be a total hit with fans of podcast infused mysteries. I am so excited to have this on my library’s shelves!
Anna Cicconi killed Zoe Spanos…or did she?
I Killed Zoe Spanos opens with Anna confessing to the Herron Mills detectives that she is responsible for the death of Zoe Spanos, a local girl home from college who disappeared on New Year’s Eve. She describes spending the evening with Zoe and the tragic accident that led to Zoe’s demise, but shortly after being arrested, questions start to arise.
Flashing between June – when Anna comes to Herron Mills to work as a nanny for a wealthy family – and the present – when Anna is in jail for the death of Zoe – I Killed Zoe Spanos is addictive and intriguing, but full of questions. Additionally, the clever integration of a podcast by Zoe’s friend garners attention from locals and provides fascinating background on those in Zoe’s life and what might have happened to Zoe on that fateful night. Questions consistently pop up throughout the book, though, leaving readers on edge: How is Anna responsible for the death of a girl that she did not know? Anna’s friend insists that she was in New York on New Year’s Eve, so how could she have caused the death of a girl in Nantucket? Plus, Anna keeps having flashbacks which cause her to question her relationships with people she meets in Herron Mills – why do some people look really familiar and why do people keep thinking that she is Zoe? And why is she drawn to Zoe’s boyfriend, feeling as if they know each other?
With layers of secrets and a totally surprise ending, I Killed Zoe Spanos is a book that will hook you until the very end.
Book Talk Questions:
- What evidence suggests that Anna is guilty? What evidence suggests her innocence?
- Describe Zoe’s relationships with Kaylee and Starr.
- Paisley knew Zoe. What does she learn about their relationship and how did this impact her getting the job?
- Who is Max? What was his relationship with Zoe? What is his relationship with Anna and how does it end?
- What does Anna realize about her father?
- What is the truth about Zoe? What does Anna learn about New Year’s Eve?
A Perfect Read for Fans Of…
- Sadie by Courtney Summers
- The Night Swim by Megan Goldin
- Girl, Unframed by Deb Caletti