Simon's Bookcase

Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe

Noughts & Crosses

Noughts and Crosses: Malorie Blackman. 26 October – 6 November 2009.
My rating: ♦♦♦♦◊

Noughts & CrossesForbidden love spawned by mixed childhood friendships – on the surface, Noughts and Crosses appears to be the latest incarnation of Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story and Fox and the Hound. But the first in Blackman’s series of the same name is an exploration of racial prejudice and human relationships.

The traditional whites-rule-the-blacks world is inverted, presumably to disturb the reader’s conception of racist issues. Aside from that, there is nothing much new particularly within the overriding pretext.

Callum and Sephy, a white nought and black cross respectively, alternate the narrative in a dual-first person setup which is cleverly done. With so much emphasis on the characters’ idea of each other, it’s a masterstroke on Blackman’s part to allow the reader to understand exactly what is being experieced from each perspective.

By the middle of the book, you cannot fail to get annoyed with both Callum and Sephy. Each chapter brings another, more depressing event and both lead characters simply allow life to happen to them. The reader cannot help but be irritated by their insistence on reacting to each setback by sitting feeling sorry for themselves. We must trudge on through the wallowing in the hope of a ray of sunshine, or some proactive activity from either Callum or Sephy.

Things change in the latter stages, and the plot takes a more dramatic twist. The ending, while somewhat predictable, is hugely emotive and powerful.

Many books are plot-driven with strong characters, but this is one of the few which can claim to be truly character-driven. The writing increases in emotion and Noughts and Crosses, while it didn’t quite move me to tears at its conclusion, is the book which has come closest to doing so and for that reason alone I have graded it four stars.

Upon closing the cover, I was disturbed and moved by the ending. The book does leave you emotionally drained, but that was no doubt the author’s intention. A serious issue such as this should not be casually brushed off, and we are challenged afresh to review our modern world, which is supposedly “over” its racist history. The characters penetrated my thoughts for days after the final page, and I was truly rewarded for pushing through the difficult middle of the book. I now can’t wait to read the next installment of the series, ready to be challenged again.


2 comments on “Noughts & Crosses

  1. Pingback: Double Cross | Simon Taylor: Reflections and Reactions

  2. Pingback: Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend | Simon's Bookcase

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This entry was posted on November 7, 2009 by in 4 star, Noughts & Crosses and tagged .

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@Queen_UK Adolf Hitler agatha christie Alan Clements Alastair Campbell Aldous Huxley Aleksandr Orlov Alex Shaffer Andrew Neiderman Anthony Burgess Arthur Miller Bateman Ben Brooks Ben Elton Bram Stoker Bret Easton Ellis C.J. Cherryh Carolyn Jess-Cooke Charles Dickens Chuck Palahniuk Dan Brown Dante Alighieri dashiell hammett david baldacci David Brin David Glattauer David Kirkpatrick David Line David Tennant David Wolstencroft Dylan Jones E.L. James Edgar Allen Poe Emilia Fox Eoin Colfer Erica Spindler Frank Peretti Gabrielle Lord Gareth Roberts Geoff Ryman George Orwell George R. R. Martin George W. Bush Gillian Flynn Gillian Slovo Graham Greene Guy Piran Harper Lee Harriet Lane Herman Koch Ian Rankin J.K. Rowling Jack Thorne Jacqueline Rayner James Herbert James Patterson Jasper Fforde Jeff Green Jeff Kinney Jeffrey Archer Jem Lester Jenny Robson Jeremy Clarkson Jerry B. Jenkins Jim Thompson John Crowther John Green John Grisham John Tiffany John Verdon Jonas Jonasson Judith Kerr Juliana Foster Justin Richards Kaci Hill Karen Levine Keeley Bolger Louis Walsh malorie blackman Marissa Meyer Mark Haddon Mark Z. Danielewski Martin Sixsmith Mary Higgins Clark Mary McNamara Matt Haig Matthew Ravden Michael Berry Michael Connelly Michael Morpurgo Michael Quirke Miguel de Cervantes Mike Lancaster Morris Gleitzman Morton Rhue Neil Sinclair Nick Hornby Nick Page Patricia Cornwell Patricia Stotley Patrick Ness Paula Hawkins Paul Johnston Peter James Phil Allcock R.J. Palacio Rachelle Dekker Raymond Chandler Richard Bachman Robert Louis Stevenson Robert Ludlum Robin Cook Robin Kirkpatrick sandra brown Sebastian Beaumont Sharon Osbourne Stella Rimmington Stephen Cole Stephen King Steve Lookner Steve Lyons Stuart MacBride Sue Townsend Suzanne Collins ted dekker Terry Pratchett Tim LaHaye Tim Randall Todd Strasser Tom Avery Tom Bower Tom Cain Tom Hoyle tony blair William Golding William P. Young William Shakespeare