Newest Review: ... just teenagers, and is one of my favourites because of it. The book shows you an almost modern 1900's society, where modern technology ex... more
A Moral Must Have
Noughts and Crosses Trilogy - Malorie Blackman
Member Name: ScrivSheep
Noughts and Crosses Trilogy - Malorie Blackman
Date: 22/10/11, updated on 22/10/11 (56 review reads)
Advantages: Beautifully written, fantastically engaging, and morally mind changing.
Disadvantages: Some readers find the quick pace at which the characters age difficult to keep up with.
Through the use of split first person (where you follow more than one person through their eyes), this novel brings you to such a point of being emotionally involved, that you can't help but follow the story on the edge your seat, wondering what is going to happen to your two new best friends: Callum McGregor and Persephone (Sephy) Hadley.
The story doesn't reveal the flipped nature of society at the start, but lets you build up a picture until you finally click, white is black, and black is white. In this reversed society, it shows black people (crosses) as being dominant over white people (noughts) which is the opposite of how society used to be (thankfully everyone is entirely equal now in this country). This is confusing to start with, but eventually makes complete sense as you realise the author is simply showing you a moral point, from the other person's shoes, or skin tone, as it were. For me, this completely opened my eyes. Although it shouldn't have, this method really strengthened my already reasonably strong morals. It is possibly a sad thing to say it took a reverse of the situation to make me think, but perhaps some other people found this as well.
Many moral points are covered across it's 445 pages, the obvious main point being racism. This book is my 'moral must have' for everyone, not just teenagers, and is one of my favourites because of it. The book shows you an almost modern 1900's society, where modern technology exists, but racism is still high. People's abuse of each other, use of swear words to describe the other side (dagger for crosses and blanks for noughts), terrorists fighting in the name of equality and general social inequality are all rife in the world we have been presented. The novel causes a person to really think how unfair the world used to be, and how much better it is for social equality. As a young teen, it makes you re-think and take stock of your opinions, making you a better person. In my opinion, a book can do no better.
The next moral point presented is the idea of family, and wealth versus poverty. Sephy Hadley is rich, Callum McGregor is poor. We gain an understanding of how each character lives and I found I didn't know who to feel sorry for the most. Callum's family is extremely poor, they live off of the bare minimum and an eye opener for me was the line 'water and milk - that was all we ever had. Unless we were extra short of money, then it was just water'. However, although Callum lives in poverty, he has a loving family. Even with a sister who's not quite there, and an extremely racist brother (who upsets Callum over his disapproval of Sephy), Callum's family is presented as extremely preferable to Sephy's. Persephone Hadley is as rich as Callum is poor. Living in a mansion (drawing room and all), Sephy enjoys orange juice at every meal, and a computer in her room. This style of living, closely juxtaposed with Callum's (literally a page apart) makes you think closely about the general inequality of society, and will hopefully make you more willing to buy a 'big issue' or donate to that charity box at the corner shop. Family is also juxtaposed. Whereas in the previous chapter Callum's family laughed and fought as a family does, Sephy's family shows two isolated sisters, a soon to be alcoholic Mum (another moral point) and one very angry Dad, who is constantly away at work, and is shown to shout at Sephy in the chapter, for overhearing a conversation with a work colleague.
Terrorism play a key part in the novel, and is another of my moral points. The Liberation Militia fight for equality. Three characters in the book become involved with the group, Ryan McGregor, Jude McGregor and Callum McGregor. Terrorism is constantly in the news today, with scares featuring most commonly. With days like 9/11 and the 7/7 London bombings still fresh in our mind, the book shows us the utter pointlessness of terrorism. The Liberation Militia never accomplish anything (that I can see) and they always end up hurting or even killing people. The shopping mall bombing kills many people, all to make a statement. I found myself literally asking out loud "what's the point?", and I think this is what the author intended.
One of my favourite things about this story is how it doesn't shy away from any sensitive issues. If you want a down to earth, realistic, emotionally engaging read, then this is it. It fails to shy away from issues such as racism, as well as others such as suicide and sex. Many people (parents usually) have criticised the book for featuring sex. In my opinion it was needed in order to develop the characters relationship, develop the story and also as a side point, promote contraception. Supposed rape, young pregnancy and single parenthood, which are all prominent news items today, feature as issues as well. The way these issues are seriously presented makes a teenager stop to think next time they joke about the problems, and will hopefully make them hold their tongue from insults.
Essentially you could call Noughts and Crosses a love story (even though it is so much more as well). The friendship and eventual love between Callum and Sephy is engaging, authentic and above all, tragic. The twists and turns of their relationship make for an enticing read. And although teenage love is said to be folly, this is anything but. The author has very cleverly conveyed the characters to make the story genuine in all aspects, not just their love.
My final moral point in the novel is the idea of capital punishment. One trial that takes place in the book is Ryan McGregor's and he risks capital punishment if found guilty. The threat of hanging a beloved character brings out dislike for this form of sentence, and brings the issue to the forefront of your mind during this section. However, with the help of Sephy's mother, Ryan is able to avoid the noose, but what happens to him next makes you wander if it were an accident or planned. This brings in the moral point of fair government, and made me think of amnesty international, a group which fight for human rights.
I've already said that this story doesn't shy away from issues, and the amount of sensitive moral dilemmas presented shows this. The ending leaves you heart broken, and probably crying. The ending isn't fair, but it couldn't have ended any other way. It is an immensely powerful conclusion, which completely hammers home all the moral issues presented. The moral problems conveyed throughout make you think, and hopefully, as it did for me, will make you a better person.
The second and third book of this trilogy complete a fantastic storyline which is thrilling to the last word. The second features more heavily the problems of single parenthood, and the third with issues relating to children of mixed race, and the difficulties they faced in society. As well as this more relating to the Liberation Militia is given. These two books are also fantastic. They are only slightly overshadowed by the first in the series, due to a more powerful ending, but are brilliantly written and styled. I always think the first in a series is the best anyway.
My 'moral must have' book: Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman. For all those who want to laugh, cry, smile, frown, get angry, and fall in love, this book is perfect.
Summary: Many moral issues to sink your teeth into. This book will make you a better person.