Monday, 13 January 2014

Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher

Title: Ketchup Clouds
Author: Annabel Pitcher
Published by: Indigo
Publication date: 1st July 2013
Pages: 305
Genres: Young Adult/Contemporary/Mystery
Format: Paperback
Source: Gift.

"I've done something wrong. What I've done is awful. And do you want to know the worst thing? I've got away with it."

Zoe Collins has a dark and terrible secret that she dares confess to no one. But one day she hears of a criminal on death row who knows all about secrets. And lies. And betrayal. Desperate to confide in someone, Zoe picks up a pen.

These are the letters that she wrote.

Zoe is an ordinary teenage girl with an extraordinary secret - a secret that she is bursting to tell. With her mother constantly helping Zoe's deaf younger sister Dot and her father caught up in her grandfather's illness, she turns to the only person who might understand; a murderer on death row. Month by month her story unfolds in letters and we get to find out what really happened.

The first reason for me adoring this book is that it's gritty and realistic. Life wasn't glamourised and it tells it like it is. Zoe is funny and blunt and some of the things she said had me laughing out loud because she said things you just don't expect to read in YA books - that's a good thing though. I'm glad Pitcher seemed to take a risk with that because it definitely paid off.

Some people have commented on the 'childish' language but come on. They're letters written by a teenager, they're not going to be the next J.K Rowling novels. Zoe has her own vibrant, unique 'voice' and I think that is a great benefit to the story.

Honestly I wasn't sure if I would enjoy this book. I've wanted it for a very long time but I was apprehensive because I had never read a book written in this format before. However it was very quick and easy to get used to and it felt a lot more personal as if I actually knew Zoe and the other people in real life.

'Ketchup Clouds' has a lot of sub-plots but they were all tied up nicely by the end which I think makes this fantastic contemporary even better because I hate standalones where you're left wondering! I was slightly disappointed that we never got to know what Stuart Harris thought, though. Did he read the letters? Did he reply? I think a companion novel with his replies/thoughts would be perfect. Wishful thinking!

Overall I greatly enjoyed this book and it actually got me out of a reading slump so yay! *waves pom poms* 'Ketchup Clouds' is full of pain yet full of dry humour and I loved how Pitcher didn't shrink away from dealing with so many serious topics in one book. What a sensational concoction of words!

If you haven't read this book, need to. It's so raw and heartbreaking and real and...just read it, okay? Please.
Thank you to my unicorn buddy Hawwa for sending me a signed copy for my birthday. What a fantabulous human being unicorn.


  1. I keep looking at this book but fail to buy it every time. I think I will probably do so now the next time I see it!

  2. Ahh I just adore this book! It's one of my favourite contemporary novels. I actually really loved Alice's voice and the format Ketchup Clouds was written, it was unique and engaging. Isn't the cover stunning though? Glad you enjoyed it, Great review!

    PS. I also would have loved a companion novel in Stu's perspective.

  3. I love contemporary novels, and I really should read this one, so I think I will definitely add this to my TBR list. I also love, love the cover, it's so simple, but it looks gorgeous and works out great! Thanks for introducing me to this novel!

    1. I love the cover too, it stands out so well! :)

  4. I just finished this book yesterday so it is still fresh in my mind, and I agree with you :) It's such a unqiue story and I love the letter format. I could see everything so clearly in my mind, the author captured a teenager's thoughts so well. But I was disappointed that we never got to find out more about Stuart too :(

    Great review, Amber! Yay for books that get you out of a reading slump :D

  5. I'm so glad you liked Ketchup Clouds! I thought the author did a really good job of capturing a teenager's voice too, and I adored the character of Dot! Have you read Annabel Pitcher's debut, My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece? I'd definitely recommend it if you haven't :) Lovely review!

    1. I haven't read it but it's on my wishlist. Everyone says it's amazing! Thanks Maya :)

  6. YAY! I'm so happy you enjoyed this one Amber, it's brilliant. :')

    The last letter just about KILLED me… ahh I'm thinking of getting it out of my library again as I just wanna reread it SO BAD.

    Anyways, I'm glad you enjoyed this (agree about Stuart though)!

    1. Me too! I also loved the mystery, it wasn't clear who had died until the end. Ahhh now I want to re-read...

  7. AAAAAHHHHH I HAVE TO READ THIS RIGHT NOW! Stuff it, my TBR list is getting thrown out the window and I'll start it next :D Have you read Annabel's other book? My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece? It is unbelievable. David Tennant narrates the audiobook ;) Highly recommend it if you haven't read it yet :)
    Brilliant review, Amber!

    1. YAY! Forget the TBR, read this! I think you'll like it. I haven't read her other book but it's on my wishlist. Thanks Rebekah! :D

  8. I've wanted to read this for ages! Trying to branch out in YA fiction before I start teaching so I can have some good things to recommend to students! Definitely on the Amazon wishlist! So glad I found your blog btw :)

  9. You know how much I want to read this book, and you've convinced me to pick it up a.s.a.p.!
    Really enjoyed reading your review, Amber!
    -Sophie :)

  10. Great review Amber :D yes! Ketchup Clouds is just a *perfect* book. :D Definitely very gritty and realistic. I loved the letter format! I agree with wanting Stuart's reply. At least one letter, as an epilogue... *sob* But then again, leaving it up to the imagination of the reader was good! I spent weeks thinking up his possible replies. :)
    Glad you enjoyed it! Have you read Annabel's debut? If not, I really recommend that!

  11. Sunny has recommended this to me over and over (100 x over) and I really want to read it. (for her sake) I'm glad it's realistic because when it's not it just annoys me. But yes I'll read it :) haha

  12. Read that book in the beginning of this month =). I thought it was ok, but a bit disappointed about the whole "murder mystery" thing...