Ketchup Clouds is told entirely through Zoe’s letters to Stuart - she never tells him her real name or address, so he never writes back to her. Over the course of six months of letters, she tells him about her life now as well as a narrative of the events leading up to the terrible thing she did (we find out in the first few pages that she killed someone).
This was a very powerful book for a number of reasons. The epistolary nature of the book actually works well and comes across as very natural and not contrived like some letter-based books can. Zoe’s voice is a heartbreaking mixture of childish (she’s only fifteen) and mature and her descriptions of people and events are excellent. Her relationships with her best friend, her parents and her sisters are well written and almost mundane, which serve as a foil to the heartbreak and guilt hat’s eating away at her.
The two boys in the book, Max and Aaron, are like two sides of the same coin, in terms of looks and personality. One of them she has but isn’t sure if she really wants; the other is the boy she wants desperately, but can’t have. The way all three of them deal with the situation they are in felt very real and really kept the pages turning.
One of the most powerful aspects about Ketchup Clouds is that the reader is left guessing as to who it is Zoe has killed almost until the very end, so it’s almost like a murder-mystery in reverse. The very final letter, the only one not written by Zoe, is so beautiful it almost had me in tears.
Ketchup Clouds has a love triangle in it, and while I’m not a fan when these are just randomly chucked in to increase the tension in a book (lazy lazy lazy) the love triangle is the driving force behind the whole book, and it is actually very well done so it didn’t put me off. Also, this love triangle ends in death, which is how all good love triangles should end (Wuthering Heights, Infernal Devices Trilogy).
All in all, I’d thoroughly recommend this book.