Synopsis from the back of the book.
Callum is a nought – a second-class citizen in a world run by the ruling Crosses..
Sephy is a Cross, daughter of one of the most powerful men in the country..
In their world noughts and Crosses simply don’t mix. And as hostility turns to violence, can Callum and Sephy possibly find a way to be together?
They are determined to try..
And then the bomb explodes..
After hearing a lot of good things about this book, including a few good recommendations from people on this forum, I decided this would be my next read. Noughts and Crosses is the first in a trilogy followed by Knife Edge and finally Checkmate. Malorie Blackman has had an unaccountable amount of acclaim for this book and its the winner of the Children’s Book Award.
Although the book does contain a warning that it is not suitable for younger readers, it is also generally categorized under ‘teen reading.’ I wouldn’t recommend the book for children of roughly under eight or nine, depending on the maturity of the child, as it
does have things of an explicit nature written down, including a pretty heavy love scene around half way through the book.
This book focuses on two different groups of people, that make up society. The noughts are white people, and they are considered inferior; they have the manual labour, mindless, unskilled jobs and are generally of a lower class. Crosses are black people, and they hold the power, they are in government, they are the rich people and have only the best jobs. There is a divide between the two, the Crosses are not openly hateful towards the noughts, but you can tell the hatred is there. The noughts put up with their lot, but there is an underlying hatred which will end in tears.
The story revolves around two main characters; Sephy, who is a Cross, and Callum, who is a nought. They have been friends all their lives, since Callum’s mum worked as a house-keeper for Sephy’s mum. They gradually become closer, and fall in love, as Callum gets accepted into Stephy’s school (An all Cross school). They break all kinds of social boundaries possible. Crosses and noughts do not mix, and are certainly not friends or lovers. As the story unfolds, they are driven apart by societies prejudices. Callum joins a military terrorist group after a family tragedy, and swears revenge. His brother, Jude, is also a part of this group called the Liberation Militia who plot and scheme in an attempt to bring the Crosses to their downfall. As things take a devastating turn, the two young lovers will meet again but in very different circumstances, circumstances that will decide with whom Callum’s loyalties truly are.
The two main characters in this book are amazingly written and very real. The story is told in first person, however with a difference. You get a section from Sephy’s point of view, then a section from Callum’s point of view and so on. This sounds like it might be confusing, but each section is clearly labelled, and it is a very effective way of storytelling.
A book full of polictical, racial and moral issues, Malorie Blackman has provided the perfect balance of the topics covered. A book that had me glued to the pages until I’d finished, it really does make you look at society with a different perspective.