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Teen Book Review- I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick

I Killed Zoe Spanos

It almost took me longer to write this review than it did to read I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick. Which is less a complaint about my writing speed and more a testament to how awesome this book was–I truly could not put it down. Contemporary YA murder mysteries are an untapped gold mine, and this book proves it.

It’s told in two timelines: Now and Then. In the “Then” timeline, teenager Anna Cicconi travels down from Brooklyn to the rich Long Island neighbourhood called Herron Mills where she has been hired as an ‘au pair’ for the summer. Anna is ready to leave her old life of partying and drinking behind. She can and she will be responsible, even with the expensive booze around her, the mysterious boy living next door, and an increasingly failing memory. But then Anna learns of her resemblance to Zoe Spanos, a local girl that disappeared months ago. The longer she lives in Herron Mills, and the deeper she delves into Zoe’s life, the more Anna is convinced that she is somehow connected to the case.

“Now”: Anna Cicconi is under arrest after confessing to killing Zoe Spanos. But considering Anna was never even supposed to have met Zoe, and that her confession doesn’t completely add up, teenager ‘investigative journalist’ Martina Jenkins/Green decides to get to the bottom of this complicated mystery.

Okay, so. As you can probably tell from the blurb, this book is going to be twisty, and that’s not just an expectation–“I Killed Zoe Spanos” completely delivered. The setting, pace, and writing are all very well-done. I loved how most of the book was status quo prose, with an occasional “podcast” or different perspective chapter . I also appreciated that that even though the timeline could have butchered the suspense aspect completely, it didn’t! We learned little by little about what had actually happened, which is how a mystery should be. The only aspect of the book I would’ve improved on was the romance (ugh, I know). And maybe the resolution could have gone a bit longer… I wanted to see Paisley (the 8-year old Anna was looking after) again!!

All in all, I Killed Zoe Spanos is a welcome relief from my slew of not-quite-for-me book reviews. 10/10

Teen Book Review – Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane is a great novel about Teddy Daniels and Chuck Aule’s search for Rachel Solando who went missing from Ashecliffe island’s hospital for the criminally insane . It seems that Solando managed to escape from a locked cell completely undetected by some orderlies playing cards and slipped past two guarded checkpoints. Swimming back to land would be out of the question for anyone other than the best swimmers, which makes her disappearance even more intriguing. While Daniels jumps at the chance to solve this case it seems like there might be an ulterior motive behind his enthusiasm. The island is a very interesting setting, as it contains 3 wards in separate buildings and the ever mysterious lighthouse that is quarantined off by heavily armored guards and an electric fence. Daniel begins to doubt the reality of his choice to come to the island as events occur that suggest his life is in danger. Shutter Island is a great novel that will surely take you on a roller coaster of emotions. With great mystery, and an intense horror movie vibe it is sure to get your adrenaline pumping. I would recommend the novel and rate it 10/10

Teen SRC 2020- We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

We Were Liars

Having read Genuine Fraud (also by E. Lockhart) I started We Were Liars happily expecting to have my socks knocked off. And it certainly didn’t disappoint.

Welcome to the Sinclair family. Tall, proud, and rich. Golden-haired, freckled, and most importantly: perfect. There are no Sinclair addicts, drop-outs, or failures. And every summer, the prestigious family meets on their very own island. But one summer, when the Liars (Cadence, her cousins, and a family friend named Gat) are fifteen, something goes horribly wrong. Cadence has an accident and now, at seventeen, she’s still suffering from constant migraines and selective amnesia. She doesn’t remember a thing of what happened. But after having skipped summer sixteen to travel Europe with her dad, Cadence finally returns to Beechwood Island, desperate for answers.

We Were Liars was absolutely brilliant. The idea of a perfect and rich family with their own island is fascinating, and E. Lockhart pulled it off impeccably AND realistically. The flashbacks, Cadence’s pain written in fanciful poetry, and yes, even the romance, was enjoyable to read. It beautifully conveyed the reality that no family is perfect, and there is an overall message in the book about dealing with family problems, money, expectations, pain, loss, and guilt…

And then there’s the plot twist. OH BOY, what can I say about the plot twist? My heart skipped a beat and I had to read the page again and again when I got to it. And the best part: it was entirely believable. (I mean, it took some time but I eventually came to terms with it.) Seriously, the plot twist is amazing.

The book isn’t perfect. (Duh, nothing’s perfect. Not even the Sinclairs!) The switching timelines were confusing: I didn’t know half the time when Cadence was talking about summer fifteen or seventeen. It could have been improved with chapter headings or something like ‘before’ and ‘after’. Cadence is okay as a character– not enough personality in my opinion, and not very likable, either. There were also some overdone metaphors that cut the quality of the writing, and and abrupt ending that needed more and slower falling action.

But please, don’t let my harsh criticism put you off. (that’s just me being me, really.) We Were Liars gripped me from the start and I finished the book in hours. I sacrificed sleep for it, and I don’t regret a thing. It’s the best of the best of contemporary suspense novels and I can’t wait to read it again. 9.5/10.

Teen SRC 2020 – The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells

The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells demonstrates the power to transform the human body using advances in scientific achievement. The novel itself is an enthralling and entertaining tale of terror and suspense, and it is a significant Faustian allegory of the dangerous capabilities of unregulated and unbridled scientific endeavours many decide to embark on. The Invisible Man is able to endure as one of the most notable stories in science fiction, in which Griffin, a brilliant and progidouous scientist uncovers the secret to achieving invisibility, but his grandiose ambitions and the power he unleashes causes him to spiral into intrigue, madness, and murder.

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Teen SRC 2018 – Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

Genuine Fraud by E.Lockhart

Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

“Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat.
Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete.
An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two.
A bad romance, or maybe three.
Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains.
A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her.
A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.”

Genuine Fraud is a psychological suspense novel, telling the story of a young woman who constantly reinvents herself, lying to the people around her, herself, and even the reader at some points.  The story begins with the protagonist, Jule, in the guise of “Imogen,” fleeing a resort when her cover is blown, and bringing the story back in time from there. Genuine Fraud’s intention is to have mysteries being solved one by one as the book progresses, ending with a sense of satisfaction when finally closing the book, but the execution isn’t perfect. I often found scenes that seemed redundant or unnecessary to the overall plot, and found myself tempted to skip ahead to find answers to the bigger questions. Even with its flaws, I still enjoyed the novel, feeling tension building up to the answers of mysteries haunting the reader from the first page, sympathy towards Jule in some of her darkest moments, and a sense of satisfaction, though slightly tainted by flaws, when finishing the final page. Overall, I would recommend Genuine Fraud for people who like mystery novels, however, don’t go into the book expecting an amazing, complex plot twist, as when not giving too much attention to its flaws, Genuine Fraud is an excellent novel, and well deserving of its upcoming film adaptation.

(There are numerous accusations of Genuine Fraud stealing several plot points from The Talented Mr.Ripley, but I decided that as a personal review, I would not go into this issue, but advise going into it with a grain of salt for originality.)