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I was advised by my English teacher to get the book 'Noughts and Crosses, by Malorie Blackman'. After reading the short World Book Day book she gave me, entitled 'Eye for an eye', I couldn't resist and so bought this book.
I began reading immediately, and, to the dismay of my popular computing / internet magazines, Noughts and Crosses somewhat over-ruled my bedtime reading! It was incredibly gripping, and I just couldn't put it down!
After the initial prologue, the main part of the story is told from the perspectives of both Sephy and Callum in an alternating fashion. This is interesting, as it gives perspectives not just from the narrator, but from the people themselves - both Sephy and Callum.
The central topic is racism. As one can see from the colours and layout of the book's cover, the story is a fierce ongoing struggle between two groups of people - the noughts, and the crosses. I feel it's better not to tell you which colour is which just yet. I didn't know from the start, and when I found out, quite a way into the story actually, I was shocked. My whole images of the characters had to be changed, and for me, this was an amazing twist to the story. So I'm not going to spoil it for you!
Sephy and Callum are opposites - i.e. one's a cross, one's a nought. Initially, things are fine between the families. Sephy and Callum have a wonderful strong relationship from the start, and they see that skin colour means nothing when love is involved.
The story covers quite a long timescale, showing Sephy and Callum first experiencing intimate relationships, then going on to developing stronger identities - race-related identities. Their love grows and grows, and even though Callum turns into a criminal for the purpose of his race, the love is without a doubt still there.
There's not much more I can say without ruining the story; just to reiterate the fact that this story will grab you from the start. It is suitable for young adults - perhaps 13+. It's a great read for adults too though. You will be gripped from the start just as much as I was. I'd say it isn't best suited to people of a nervous disposition or anyone under the age of 13. The story depicts occasional violence which some may disapprove of.
The book is about 440 pages in length, average text size. You won't feel it's too long though; once you start you will not want to stop!
The book has received much high praise, and there's not a person I know that didn't like it. Everyone who has commented on the book has commented in a positive way, and I recommend this book for sure.
The ending is a cliff-hanger, so be prepared to pay for the next sequel, that is 'Knife Edge'. I haven't yet read this book - I am waiting for the paperback version.
So, I advise you buy this book, especially if you like a bit of drama, adventure with many twists and topical issues that still, unfortunately, remain issues today.
---------------------------------------- Benjamin Riches (wbafcben) ----------------------------------------
Great review. I also read this and absolutely loved it! Julie:-)
Mel27 28.07.2005 21:50
This sounds interesting if a bit depressing! How much was it?
PJE_ 25.04.2005 02:45
It's a stunning book. I first heard about it when it made the BBC's Big Read Top 100 (which also introduced me to Louis Sachar's brilliant book 'Holes') However, I have to warn you that I read Knife Edge a couple of weeks ago and it was so depressingly horrible I'm still on suicide watch!
Malorie Blackman is a fine, award-winning author whose work is always inclined to provoke ... more
debate amongst her readers, and indeed her peers. With Noughts and Crosses she surpasses expectation not only with her subject matter, but with the execution of a stimulating and provocative plot line that often leaves the reader chilled to the bone. Sephy and Callum have been best friends since childhood, and now they are older and they realise they want more from each other. But the harsh realities of lives lived in a segregated society are beginning to take their toll: Callum is a nought--a second-class citizen in a world dominated by the Crosses--and Sephy is a Cross, and the daughter of one of the most powerful men in the country. The barriers they would have to cross to be together at first seem little more than minor obstacles to the two idealistic teenagers, but soon those barriers threaten not only their friendship but their lives. Noughts and Crosses is written with the passion of an author who has a personal message about the perception of the past, present and future, and Blackman has used the clever device of turning preconceived ideas of racial prejudice upside down to make sure that her point is well and truly made. Deeply disturbing and totally absorbing this novel is intriguing from the outset, with a shocking climax that packs an unforgettable punch. (Age 11 and over) --Susan Harrison