Book Review: ‘Noughts & Crosses’
Sunflower Rating: ❁❁❁❁❁
The first in a fantastic series that shares a love story that transcends boundaries and gives a modern, relevant and topical way to open discussion about prejudice, xenophobia and how the poisonous roots can grow in families and society as a whole.
An important novel for all young people to read and one that I hope makes it on to the National Curriculum. This novel is an emotional rollercoaster that leaves you feeling disgusted at the awful ways that humanity segregates people.
I came across the Noughts & Crosses series through a recommendation. Before going away I had put up a Facebook status asking my friends to suggest books that had, had a ‘profound impact’ on them. This was listed FOUR times. It did not disappoint. I can understand why the series is so popular and why it is now considered a modern classic.
Blackman has written Noughts & Crosses as if our world history was turned on its head. Apartheid in reverse, with thought-provoking prose designed to explore the turmoil and conflict Sephy and Callum experience because of their love for one another in a world designed to breed its opposite.
In this instance of “Never judge a book by its cover” is entirely wrong. In my opinion, it adds to the importance of the symbolism of the book. Yes, I know the latest editions are displayed differently, but for me, the simple layout and the black and white was intentional at the time of its first publication. The stark white on black design highlights the yin yang relationship that diversity has in society whilst showing the way it is cut through and divided by imposed titles. The simple issues of acceptance and equality muddied by the dilemma of morality and the existential quandary of what it is.
Noughts and Crosses also looks at the long term implications of all of the issues. If Sephy and Callum act on their relationship, will it make the world a better place? Will it make any difference at all? Do the risks outweigh the benefits? Can love really win out?
Most importantly, it challenges our views of the world, how we treat others and makes us question how we would respond in similar circumstances. Do our views change from the beginning of the novel compared to the end? Are we as conflicted as the characters?
It is these personal, introspective questions that help us grow and develop.
Book One – Noughts & Crosses
Book Two – Knife Edge
Book Three – Checkmate
Book Four – Double Cross
‘Stop it! You’re all behaving like animals! Worse than animals – like blankers!’
Sephy is a Cross: dark-skinned and beautiful, she lives a life of privilege and power. But she’s lonely, and burns with injustice at the world she sees around her.
Callum is a nought: pale-skinned and poor, he’s considered to be less than nothing – a blanker, there to serve Crosses – but he dreams of a better life.
They’ve been friends since they were children, and they both know that’s as far as it can ever go. Noughts and Crosses are fated to be bitter enemies – love is out of the question.
Then – in spite of a world that is fiercely against them – these star-crossed lovers choose each other.
But this is love story that will lead both of them into terrible danger . . . and which will have shocking repercussions for generations to come.
Voted as one of the UK’s best-loved books, Malorie Blackman’s Noughts & Crosses is a seminal piece of YA fiction; a true modern classic.
‘The most original book I’ve ever read’ Benjamin Zephaniah
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