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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 November 2012
The future is bleak in this dystopian story of love, prejudice and discrimination. It is one of a series: Knife Edge, Checkmate, Double Cross, An Eye For An Eye and Callum.
Sephy is a Cross, privileged, one of the ruling class from a wealthy but dysfunctional family. Her father is a political figure, more concerned about his own image than considering the welfare of his family. His wife had an affair and then became an alcoholic and this is how she deals with her miserable life.
Callum is a Nought, sometimes called a blanker who refuses to tolerate the prejudice in society. He is a fighter who turns into a cold-blooded killer but his redeeming feature is his undying love for Sephy that survives throughout all of this adversity.
Sephy is a fighter too and she suffers just as much as Callum. It's a retelling of Romeo and Juliet with a different kind of "ancient grudge."
She is prepared to stand up for her beliefs of equality and suffers physical and verbal abuse but this increases her resolve and her determination to bring about a change in society.
There are some extremely uncomfortable moments of drama during the kidnapping scene, the "rape" and the execution. What is effective is the personal story told by both of the main characters, sharing the narrative and giving us personal insight into human weaknesses, moments of passion and a sense of hope in a bleak existence.
Blackman proposes that violence has to be met with violence and hence the militia group that Callum, his brother Jude and his father Ryan join with tragic consequences.
Suicide, violence and death are strong features, constantly lurking in the shadows and as the clock ticks away we know that the executioner is ready, the prisoner hooded, holding back the tears with his final desire for life not death.
Blackman's moral on the nature of dreams of living in a world without discrimination or prejudice are destroyed by Jack, a prison officer who states:
"People are people. we'll always find a way to mess up, it doesn't matter who's in charge."
I warned you it was bleak, didn't I? But I would strongly recommend a read when you are in a serious mood.
Carol Naylor.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 18 October 2012
This is a gripping and thought-provoking novel. It tells the story of Sephy and Callum in a world where the dark-skinned Crosses rule over the pale skinned Noughts. As children they used to play together, despite their difference of skin colour. When Callum is among a select group of Noughts to be allowed to attend Cross schools, Sephy, who comes from a powerful Cross family begins to see the inequalities that the Nought's are subjected to.

I'll be honest, when I started reading this book, I was expecting a love conquers all type teen read. I'm delighted to admit to being absolutely wrong. This book tackles the issues of racism and inequality in a really well thought out and thought-provoking way. It was a really interesting angle for Blackman to go down, having the white people being the ones who are discriminated against. The story is told in alternate chapters from Callum and Sephy's points of view and this worked really well. You have the privileged and rather naive (certainly at the start of the book) Sephy who, on the surface has it all. Callum at 15 is 2 years older than Sephy, from a poor Nought background and is, understandably carrying a lot of anger about his lot in life. The developing love between them is wonderfully brought to life, and, it is one of those rare books where you really feel you can see the characters and they stay with you after the final page. Blackman doesn't sugar-coat things here, the inequalities Noughts suffer is vividly shown, and, even the `good guys' commit atrocities. The strength though is that, the reasoning behind them is well explained and, in the context of the story, very believable. The ending is masterful, and I will be reading book 2 shortly.

To sum up, this is a fine example of teenage fiction that can also be enjoyed by adults.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 15 March 2004
This is the best book I have ever read, and I have read a lot of books! It is all about Callum and Sephy, a nought and a cross, in an unfair and cruel world where noughts are looked down on. It's ending was the saddest ending I have ever read, and almost had me in tears. It is excellently written, as Malorie Blackman has described all the characters feelings in diary form, which makes it even more moving. I would not usually choose this type of book, as I like action and fantasy, but this book has totally changed the way I look at books. It is full of action, romance and is very moving, and is a must-read for every adult as well as child!
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 23 March 2004
Noughts and crosses can only be described as the most intoxicating unputdownable heart-rending book ever. A book that has you absorbed until the last full stop yet lingers in the mind for a long time afterwards. It has to be said, it easily classifies as my favourite book. EVER.
To set the scene for you, this book is set in a world where black and white is right and wrong. Malorie Blackman skilfully avoids mentioning time and place which focuses on the novel being set in a bubble of racial injustice. This provocative book makes us think about race in a totally different way through the two main characters as they struggle to keep their friendship alive. Callum is a nought –a second class citizen- in a world dominated by crosses. Sephy is a cross and daughter to one of the most powerful men in the country. The introduction of these two characters causes us to dive straight into their deep fondness for each other, we feel intertwined with their every thought and feeling due to the chapters alternating between both character’s diaries. The stereotypical ideas most people are brought up with about racism, led me to assume that Callum would be black, however Malorie Blackman has used the clever device of turning these preconceived ideas upside down to make sure that her point is well and truly made. As the lives of these two characters progress, they realise that they want more than friendship from each other but as harsh reality takes it’s toll we are left bitter and wishing for a world not divided by colour or class. As we arrive to the end of this riveting book, the momentous ending whacks an unforgettable punch and we can’t help but be left breathless.
This book would inspire passion onto even the most heartless person. It’s laugh out loud funny and cry your heart out sad. The dramatic and moving plot line achieves what any good book should; leave you wanting more. It’s filled to the brim with love and hate, wrong and right, injustice and hope. Malorie Blackman has created a masterpiece from which you feel reluctant to leave. An incredible novel that should be read by all!
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 28 February 2004
This book is amazing. A lot of people say that about a lot of books, but this one really is. It follows Sephy, a black cross, and Callum, a white nought in their struggle to fight against the inequality and narrow minded people that surround them. Written from both the main characters' points of view, this book will draw you in and not fully let you go until long after you have finished it, and even then, it will make you look at the world around you through fresh eyes. The heart-wrenching ending will leave you both in tears and wanting more, which the sequel 'knife edge' provides. Though at points you will want to scream through sheer frustration about what is happening, this is only because Malorie Blackman has made her chracters so utterly believable-you can't help but get involved in their lives. This really is, to use a cliche, a 'must read'.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 18 November 2005
Noughts and crosses. It literally took my breath away. I think its one of the best books ive ever read! Malorie manages to keep you transfixed all the way though, till the very end.
She has turned the world on its head and talks about a very painful subject - racism, within the very things that keep us alive; Love, Hate, family, friendship and trust.
Its about a black girl called Sephy and a white boy called Callum and there friendship in a world thats divided by the colour of your skin, and how their feelings for eachother grow as they grow older and grow up.
Its a must read Book.
Go on, give it a shot!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 May 2003
I know this is a cliche but i could not put this book down and read it within a day. The way that Malorie Blackman tells the story from both Sephy and Callum's viewpoint means that you really feel that you know them by the end of the book. Callum and Sephy live in a world where people are judged merely on the colour of their skin (not dissimilar to this world) and noughts (white people) are considered to be almost subhuman. Callum is a nought, and Sephy is a cross, the daughter of one of the most powerful people in the country, but they have grown up together and are true friends. But will they ever be able to be together despite the views of people around them? I won't say anymore otherwise it'll give the story away!! but if you havent read it you have to!
My one complaint would be that it i want to know more at the end but i've head that Malorie Blackman is writing a sequel about Callum and Sephy's daughter, Callie Rose - does anyone know any more info bout this? If you liked this book then read the world book day special "an eye for an eye" - its short but a good 'filler' whilst you're waiting for the second part. Overall an excellent book!!!!!
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 8 August 2003
I can't believe this book is being marketed as a book for young adults. This is definitely a book for adults to read and thoroughly enjoy. I must admit, I wouldn't have read this book if it wasn't one of the BBC Big Read top 100 books of all time, but I'm determined to read all 100 and this was the seventy-third one on my list. And of the ones I've read so far this is definitely my favourite. It has action, suspense, romance, an excellent, enthralling story and characters to really care about. I'm in my 30s and I thought it was amazingly well written and like nothing I've ever read before. Well done to Malorie Blackman. This may have been the first book of yours that I've read, but it certainly won't be the last. I can't wait for the sequel. If it's a half as good as Noughts and Crosses, it'll be a winner.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 6 June 2005
I read this book by chance as i had nothing else to read. I am glad i stumbled across it. This is probably the best book i have ever read. I loved it so much and even a week after sadly finishing, i still think about it. It is an incredibly passionate book and if it does not make you cry at the end.....well you're just not human. It has really touched me, and i can't wait for the next in the series. The only thing is that i have to find another book as good as it to read! completely recommended. Thankyou Malorie!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 12 September 2011
This book is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. Simply. Amazing :)

This story is set in a parallel world where black skinned people (crosses) are rulers over white (noughts.) Sephy is a cross. And Callum is a nought. They have been friends since a young age, but when their two households are suddenly seperated, can their relationship stick?

Many an obstacle gets in their way, from the sudden deaths of members of their families, to Callum starting school in one dominated by crosses... and that's before the bomb explodes.

Malorie is an astonishing author who's writing flows like poured milk, and who's clever descriptions dazzle your mind. The plot of this book is gripping, never EVER boring, and I literally could not put it down. It made me laugh out loud, smile in understanding, hit my pillow in anger and cry until I fell asleep.

If you read this book, you will never forget it. I read it over three years ago and I still remember every single twist in the plot. I reccommended it to over ten people, and they all utterly agree.

Buy it if you want to be astonished. Buy it if you want to learn how to laugh or cry again.

Wow.
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