Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman

In this tale of love, inspired by Shakespeare's 'Romeo and Juliet', sees best friends Persephone “Sephy” Hadley and Callum McGregor as they're forced to make a stand in Malorie Blackman's thought-provoking novel – Noughts and Crosses.

Sephy is a Cross - a member of the dark-skinned clan that are seen as the ruling class. Callum, on the other hand, is a Nought, a “colourless” member of the underclass who were once slaves to the Crosses. These two have been friends since early childhood, but that’s as their relationship can go. In this dystopian society, Noughts and Crosses simply don’t mix. Against the backdrop of prejudice and distrust, intensely highlighted by violent terrorist activity, a romance ignites between Sephy and Callum - a romance that is to lead both of them into terrible danger.

Blackman has a knack for writing compelling characters with a distinctive voice. The story is told effectively through a shared narrative giving the readers an insight of what it's like to be a Nought and a Cross. With the dual – first person narrative, Blackman brilliantly uses this to give the reader an unfiltered insight into their personal space, revealing the character's true thoughts, strengths, passions, weaknesses and vulnerability.

Another talent of Blackman's lies in cleverly tackling sensitive issues such as racism, prejudice and discrimination; subject matters that are usually kept hush-hush and not often addressed, especially in novels written toward young adults and children.

However, in this gripping tale of love, loss and betrayal, Blackman's stimulating and totally absorbing novel, both educational as it is entertaining, touches on the importance of equality and generates societal issues that are hauntingly tangible.

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