Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe
Knife Edge: Malorie Blackman, 25 July–4 August, 2011.
My rating: ♦♦♦◊◊
Knife Edge is the sequel to Noughts & Crosses (first read 2009) and also follows the events of Eye For An Eye (2010).
Given the tragic ending of Noughts, it’s hardly surprising the characters don’t begin Knife whooping and skipping for joy. But the first 10 or so instalments focus heavily on the prequel in vague, depressing terms. For those who have read Noughts, it becomes quickly tiresome. For those who missed it, the references are too vague to bring anyone up to speed.
When the story finally picks up, it does so in a more linear and eventful way than it’s predecessor. Instead of a circular will-they/won’t-they, Knife throws in new twists and developments all the time.
The birth of Callie Rose brings an interesting new element to the table: the Hadleys and McGregors are now related; Meggie is Callie’s grandmother and Jude is her uncle. Blackman does well to bring these relationships into play, especially Sephy and Jude, and the revised relationship between Jasmine and Meggie.
Jude and Cara’s relationship is also well developed, particularly given the characters involved. The climax is a highlight of the book. It’s so beautifully and carefully crafted that it’s almost overwhelming.
The multiple narrators are back, with Jude taking over Callum’s rotation. With so much doubt and subterfuge over everyone else’s true thoughts, feelings and motivations it works well. Also, particularly in Jude’s case, it helps the reader retain sympathy with both sides of the racial divide. It was great to see Jasmine and Meggie stepping into the narrating fray but it’s a shame it was so near the end. By this time they could only retrospectively confirm or deny Sephy’s suspicions.
Blackman tried a few other things too. The newspaper articles punctuated the narrative quite successfully, however the colours with lists of associated sentiments were bizarre, even if appropriate to the theme; they added nothing. Most annoying were Sephy’s letters to Callie at the beginning of the book, written in cringeworthy, butt clenching styles. There and elsewhere, Blackman also switches inexplicably from past to present tense, which may seek to add tension or drama, but actually just annoys.
I would query that this series would be appropriate fir children with swearing, sex, prostitution, suicidal thoughts and mature themes all present. It’s also worth noting that Blackman’s deliberate cliffhanger is completely ruined by the publisher’s preview of Book 3 which gives the game away.