Thursday, 3 January 2013

Ketchup Clouds - Joint Review

Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher

Ketchup Clouds is a thriller about a fifteen year old girl who has a secret to tell. She says she’s a murderer and uses the name Zoe to write to a man who is on Death Row for murdering his wife. She knows that if she tells her story to him in letters (it is an epistolary novel) it won’t actually get out into the public (not like photos taken on a phone).

Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher
Ketchup Clouds interweaves three people’s stories through Zoe’s voice: Zoe’s, Stuart’s and Dot’s. Zoe’s story is the main plot which is a thoughtful story about ‘boyfriends’ (saying much more than this will give too much away). A sub-plot is Stuart’s story about passions of crime and also raises issues around death penalties and prison conditions. But Zoe’s writing to Stuart also has what we thought were creepier undertones which slowly reveal themselves as the story progresses. A further sub-plot is (sort of ) Dot’s story which explores some similar themes of parenting and responsibilities that were also evident in My Sister Lives On the Mantelpiece. Through these three interweaved tales, Ketchup Clouds explores moral questions about right and wrong, and how much blame can you really lay on someone – and for how long? Do two wrongs make a right?

Little M liked the way that suspense drove the novel: the whole way along the novel you want to know who Zoe murdered and how/why. Lots of little clues are given along the way and it’s one of those novels where you ask another reader: “Did you figure this bit out?” or “Did you think this?” and so on.

 Although a thriller, Ketchup Clouds is also a sad novel –because it is about death and/or things that have happened and cannot be undone: and we cared about the characters (some more than others). However, you may be surprised at what aspects of the plots sadden you the most.

Ketchup Clouds reminded me a little of Flip by Martyn Bedford and it is definitely a novel that is ripe for discussions. For example, Little M and I ended up talking about the death penalty and whether or not we agree with it. In the novel, Zoe comments at length about the death penalty and conditions on Death Row.  

Little M preferred Ketchup Clouds to My Sister Lives On the Mantelpiece. I preferred Mantelpiece. However, tomato sauce sachets now remind both of us of Annabel Pitcher's Ketchup Clouds!

This novel is aimed at an older audience than My Sister Lives On the Mantelpiece. Teenage themes and issues that the novel raises include romantic teen relationships, smartphone abuse and alcohol. Little M would recommend this to readers in Year 9 or above because the characters in the novel are that age. I’d probably agree. The plot interests will likely appeal most to older teens. Some readers might find a couple of the romantic scenes a bit cringey while others lap them up.

Publication details: Indigo, 27 December 2012, London, hardback

 This copy: uncorrected proof received from the publisher

This review counts towards the British Books Challenge 2013.


1 comment:

  1. thanks for your review. I will now definitely by this for my 11 year old niece for Christmas


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