Noughts & Crosses
By Malorie Blackman
Award winning Malorie Blackman writes a Romeo and Juliet tale. Two childhood sweethearts want nothing more than to be together. In a world where colour divides the two young lovers have an obstacle in their way: colour. Callum: a pale nought can never be with the dark skinned Cross, Sephy. Living in a society where colour determines class, intelligence and power Callum and Sephy struggle to overcome such prejudice.
The novel is told from the alternative viewpoints of Callum and Sephy. This, for me, is what kept the pages turning. It was each person’s experience and view of an event/conversation which was interesting. It works perfectly, showing how things can be easily misconstrued and how each misinterpretation affects the characters and in turn, the plot line.
I was surprised how simple the writing and general story was. I felt it never really went anywhere. I wanted more fight against the segregation of the noughts and Crosses. But it was very much about the relationship between Callum and Sephy and when/if they would see each other again and if they loved each other (to which the reader knows the answer) and will they die, separate or end up together? I think either finale would have felt a little disappointing for me as I wanted them (especially Sephy) to wholeheartedly rise up and revolt against her kind and really make a difference. However, it just ends.
Even though I had some mild irritation for some of the simplistic language/style it does raise an excellent awareness about racial issues. By making the couples struggle within their small, inward looking environment we do feel a sense of helplessness for the situation as the couple try to get to grips with how prejudice and oppressive their immediate and wider society is.
Malorie probably writes a more realistic version of what would happen to two lovers who were not allowed to be together because of discrimination. But I wanted to hear that they fought against it and made a difference. She deserves huge praise for bringing these issues into a novel for teens and creating an intense, passionate world.
In conclusion, I enjoyed reading about another pair of star-crossed lovers and found the racial tensions fascinating, but (and I hate to say this) I still felt a little surprised I was reading a novel by an award winning author.