on 23 March 2001
I bought this book because I'd read a lot of Malorie's other books and really liked them. But this book is like nothing I've ever read before. It's so class, I don't know what to say about it. It's a bit like Romeo and Juliet but tons and tonss better. I felt like I wasn't just watching Callum and Sephy but I was them. I could understand exactly why they behaved the way they did. And I actually started thinking of them as real people. I'm still thinking about them. They both made me laugh and - I admit it - they both made me cry. I'm glad no one knows who I am. It's a bit embarressing for a 15 year old boy to admit that a book made him cry but as long as my friends don't find out, that's okay. I loved this book. I'm going to read it again now. It made me think more about racism and prejudice where I live, in my school and even at home. I wish everyone could read it. It's so good, it deserves to get 5 and a half stars out of 5.
My wife is a teacher and is going through this book with her pupils. Call me snobbish, but despite her protestations that I really should read it, I was reluctant - I'm not a teenager, for one, and feared I'd find it tedious and craftless.
How wrong I was. Blackman's novel is superbly paced and stylistically clever. The dual first-person-narrative structure really works and showcases Blackman's excellent ability to write convincing voices that are diametrically opposed (13 yr old Sephy from the ruling class with her affluent but sheltered naivety, and 15yr old Callum - a young man brimming with anger and disaffection).
It's the contrast between these two protagonists that makes this novel so compelling. Blackman really fleshes out the basic morality tale of "Racism is bad / Equality is good", avoiding simplistic answers. There is no neat closure here. Heroes commit atrocities and villains make broken gestures of kindness. Ironically, there is no black and white. Such richness was thrilling, especially when you consider this is written for the teenage market.
More than this the plot unfolds with the timing of a thriller, and even though one can see developments and twists approaching from a mile away, Blackman writes it so well that I found myself hardly caring. The events that transpire might be predictable, but the complex and brave characterisation make the ride compelling.
On the down side, there are some clichés that trip the story up at times. It's not enough to cripple the narrative, but it does slow it down and I, for one, found myself annoyed at such small but noticeable setbacks. These clichés can be brushed over and you can still thoroughly enjoy the text, but for me it stopped the book becoming a bonafide classic.
In short, this is a great book, and the creative flair far out weighs the few stylistic hiccups. Blackman writes with such courage, conviction, and insight, I found myself challenged about my own innate world view. For what it matters, I'm a white middle class man, and this book caused me afresh to look at my own attitude to what I really believe about racism and equality. In this, the book is a roaring success, and if it causes more of us to honestly appraise our own hearts in regards to race, the better.
on 13 December 2003
"Noughts and crosses" is being marketed as a children's book but don't let that keep you from reading it - I'm in my mid-20'es and absolutely loved it. The story is thought-provoking to say the least and the characters stop being characters after about 15-20 pages and become real people who you will care for and root for till the very end.
It's equal parts suspense and love story and both will have you at the edge of your seat, turning page after page and needing to "just read one more chapter" until you are well into the wee hours of the morning.
Don't keep anything breakable nearby though as the unfairness of it all will have you wanting to hurl something heavy through the air quite a lot; instead, a box of tissues will come in handy as the ending is both incredibly sad and incredibly beautiful. All in all the book, its theme, its questions, and its people will stay with you for days after you've finished it and it is a book which you shouldn't cheat yourself of. This is the first book I've read by Marjorie Blackman but it definitely won't be the last.
on 13 March 2001
I read Noughts & Crosses in one go, although I didn't mean to. It grabbed me from the second chapter and wouldn't let go. It took me all day and well into the night to read it as I'm not a very fast reader, but it was worth it. This book made me laugh out loud in certain bits, made me tear two of the pages in my haste to turn the pages in certain bits and the end of the book made me cry. No book has ever done that before. The whole story was brilliant! There isn't a single bit that I thought was boring or had to skip over. And when I closed the book, I couldn't stop thinking about it. It's the best book I've ever read in my life. I don't think five stars are enough. It should have 10! It should have 100! Read it now. You'll love it!
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.
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!
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'.
on 19 August 2003
I perminantly loaned 'Noughts and Crosses' from my sister at the weekend after she had finished it. In part, it was because I like to read, and I like to have shelves full of books, and in part it was because I read the prolouge and the first chapter while waiting to go out and liked it (more so than what I was reading at the time).
I only started really reading it today, on a buisness trip to London. Let me put it this way, as I was being interviewed by a General, I was thinking about this book! This is the first book I have ever read, effectively, cover-to-cover in one day. I can hardly describe how AMAZING this book is. Ms Blackman is an exceptionally gifted author, and the book has not only an exceptionally strong story, but also confronts a very real and controversial issue with such skill that you don't realise she's done it until you put the book down (for the five minutes it takes to switch Tubes at any rate!) and start thinking - am I in London, or in the book?
At more than one point I was wishing for Sephy and Callam to just talk to each other about their feelings, so wound up in the story I had become. And such a sad, brilliant, heart-wrenching ending. The scene in the Rose Garden, I just kept wishing someone would come to their rescue.
When I was younger, I used to say that more modern, contemporary books should be in the National Ciriculum at GCSE level, not just Shakespare. This should be the book. Every child in the UK should read it. Then read it again. I truely didnt want it to end.
on 25 February 2001
What can one say about Malorie Blackman? She is an excellent children's writer, with a mind for anything adventurous and hi-tich. Or so I thought. Under her pleasant, enjoyable children's book lay a novel just dying to fet out. And that's what Noughts and Crosses is. At heart, it is a kind of love story, but with more twists than a country lane. There are shocking climaxes, emotions fro characters that you will have never expected, racial and prejudice violence..........This book has everything. Telling you about the plot would spoil the book for you. I'd reccomend 12+. It will shock you, it will stun you, it will utterly knock the breath out of you, but all in all,it will leave you wandering what else Blackman has left in her. It is easily the best book I have ever read, and I can't speak highly enough of it. What else can I say? Just read it. It's long, but if you give it a chance, you will bbe entirely absorbed within a couple of pages. Stunning, Perfect. Blackman's best by a million miles. If you don't read this, then you are missing out on the most gut-wrenching, thought evoking novel of your life. I made my choice, and I hope that you do the same. You won't regret it.
on 1 September 2005
This book is about racism and prejudice of all kinds - it's both entertaining and educational. The writer shows the viewpoint from both sides of the 'fence' and shows why prejudice is a two-way thing that ultimately hurts both sides. Blackman encourages the reader to look at their own attitudes by pointing out things that might never have occurred before (eg - I never thought how plasters are only made in a pinky-white person kind of colour before!) I think that any intelligent person (child or adult) who reads this book will put it down having learnt something about themselves, society and the importance of equality. This is a good book and I can't wait to read the sequel.