Thursday 29 November 2012

Noughts and Crosses - Malorie Blackman

Pages: 443
Publisher: Corgi (Random House)
Release Date: 30th August 2012
Edition: UK paperback, review copy

Other Titles in this Series: Knife Edge, Checkmate, Double Cross

Callum is a nought – an inferior white citizen in a society controlled by the black Crosses.

Sephy is a Cross – and the daughter of one of the most powerful, ruthless men in the country.

In their hostile, violent world, noughts and Crosses simply don't mix. But when Sephy and Callum’s childhood friendship grows into passionate love, they’re determined to find a way to be together.

And then the bomb explodes...

There are very few people left in the world of YA that haven’t heard of Noughts and Crosses and I think I’m probably one of the last to read it.

With a single mention of Malorie Blackman’s most-popular series comes a slew of praise that is almost akin to reverence. Needless to say, my expectations were sky-high, but unfortunately, they weren’t quite met. I think that the reputation of this book had a lot to do with the fact that I didn’t enjoy it as much as I had expected I would. I also knew what were probably the two biggest plot twists in the novel, although one of them still made me cry surprisingly.

I did get more in to the novel about two thirds of the way through, and I think I know why. Sephy. She annoyed the hell out of me. She was so self-involved, whiny and so, so young. Her problems and worries seemed so insignificant in comparison to Callum’s, who I fell in love with by the way. Thankfully, Sephy grew up a lot throughout Noughts and Crosses and I ended up sympathising with her and really feeling for her when she struggled.

While I was still struggling with Noughts and Crosses there was something that kept me turning the pages: the shock factor. Malorie Blackman made me think of things that I’d never even considered before, mostly the scene with the plaster where they only had brown ones, no lighter ones to match the noughts’ skin. I realised that the reverse of that is true here and I couldn’t quite believe it. It was a shocking and extreme reality that would have been experienced in the past and I couldn’t quite believe it.

Racism isn’t the only issue tackled in Noughts and Crosses though. There was terrorism, prejudice, bullying, alcoholism and the ever present struggles of growing up. Every problem in Sephy and Callum’s society is tackled or at the very least, talked about. And most of them stemmed from the racism and the corrupt government. It’s a terrifying world that makes happy endings very difficult to come by. The short story included in this edition, Callum, made this point very nicely. It was really interesting to read an alternative version of what is probably the most pivotal scene in the novel.

I ended up enjoying Noughts and Crosses and I’ll be interesting in reading the rest of the series, though I’m not overly eager to get round to them. Hopefully I’ll become more involved in later books.

Thank you to Random House for providing me with a copy for review.



  1. I agree with you about the book's reputation leading to high expectations. Actually, it's one of the few UKYA books that other adults (offline) mention to me (but their views on it are split). Little M recently read it. She didn't know anything about it really so hers was a 'clean' read. She really got into it, said the same thing as you about the plasters and was a little troubled by the ending.

  2. Awwwh, it's a shame the hype ruined the book a bit for you. I hate when that happens! I know what you mean about Sephy (and really, I need to re-read this book soon), but I do believe that the series gets so much better as it goes on. But uhh, don't read it because I said so because if you don't like them, I'll feel bad. lol.

    But at least you liked it some and gave it a try, at least :) Malorie Blackman is an amazing author, and this series is just the tip of a large iceberg :D


  3. Pity it didn't totally impress you, I hope you like the next few books more though :)
    I totally agree about the plaster scene, it's so true, it really made me think! Sephy annoyed me a bit, but I liked the way she matured throughout the novel :)

    Thanks for a great review!

  4. Aw shame it didn't quite live up to your expectations, but glad you ended up enjoying it.

    I LOVE this book - I read it a few years ago, when I was about eleven, and numerous times since. I cry EVERY SINGLE TIME. It's just so sad!!

    Yes, I totally know what you mean about the plaster thing - it's just little details like that which are just genius!

    Brilliant review :)

  5. I read this book when I was a teenager and remember being really surprised by the plot. It kind of blew my little mind!! I definitely need to re-read!


Leave a message, I'd love to hear from you!