Saturday, October 19, 2013

Joint Review: Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher

Summary: Secrets, romance, murder and lies: Zoe shares a terrible secret in a letter to a stranger on death row in this second novel from the author of the bestselling debut, My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece.

Fifteen-year-old Zoe has a secret—a dark and terrible secret that she can't confess to anyone she knows. But then one day she hears of a criminal, Stuart Harris, locked up on death row in Texas. Like Zoe, Stuart is no stranger to secrets. Or lies. Or murder.

Full of heartache yet humour, Zoe tells her story in the only way she can—in letters to the man in prison in America. Armed with a pen, Zoe takes a deep breath, eats a jam sandwich, and begins her tale of love and betrayal.

(We were both given an Advanced Reading Copy of this book in exchange for our honest opinions.)

Kim's Review: I loved this book! When I'd first read the summary I thought it might be one of those over-dramatic love triangles, but it wasn't at all. Pitcher kept it simple while capturing the reader's attention and entertaining them with the million questions imevitably left in their head after reading a chapter. I also liked how on the outside, Zoe's family is pretty typical - two arguing parents and their three kids whose problems they are too busy to care about at first - but on the inside, it's quite unique.
The only bad things I can say about this book is that at first it was difficult to tell whether a certain part of the story was happening in the past or present, but you get the hang of it after a while. The last letter at the very end of the book seemed sort of unnecessary as well. I think just leaving it to end with Zoe's last letter would have sufficed.
All in all, I really enjoyed this book. It had some really creative ideas, and Pitcher kept me interested the entire time. I would love to read more of her novels in the future!

Charlotte's Review: Ketchup Clouds was really interesting. I wasn't expecting much from the synopsis because it came across as a bit immature to me, but I really loved it. While most of it is cute and the protagonist is relatable, there are darker aspects of it. Zoe came across as pretty self-centered at first, but I didn't dislike her for it. She can't be expected to be perfect, she's human. Her two romances contrasted one another so much. It was mystifying to remember that this was the same girl in each relationship (but in a good kind of way.)
The end of the novel didn't leave me with very much closure. There were a few big things that I would change, but they didn't hurt the book overall. I loved all the relationship dynamics, especially within Zoe's family. Her sisters were very interesting and I'm glad they got a lot of focus. Her parents were a force to be reckoned with. Many misconceptions that I began the book with were completely proved false by the end of it. I liked how the book was written, with letters to Stuart and also in present and past. The entire book I went back and forth, wondering who would be the one in the coffin. The end was very unexpected.

P.S. The fact that someone dies isn't a spoiler, it's included in the synopsis and is spoken of in the first letter!

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