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Noughts and Crosses Trilogy - Malorie Blackman
Member Name: sillygoose
Noughts and Crosses Trilogy - Malorie Blackman
Date: 10/02/04, updated on 30/12/04 (4355 review reads)
Advantages: Beautifully written, tragic....yet optimistic, not just necessuarily for teens
Disadvantages: not sure if with sway someone of real prejudice
Let me set the scene: ?Noughts and crosses? takes place in a world where the tables are turned so that blacks have authority over whites (a somewhat unoriginal idea I would have thought but critics have lapped it up.) Here, childhood innocence -if there really is such a thing- prevails. It allows Sephy, a Cross [black] and Callum, a nought [white] to be good friends without being influenced by the prejudices of their society. However, at the age of 13 and 15 life is not so straightforward. (It never is!) ?Other? feelings complicate the relationship and the opinions and actions of those around them begin to have their impact; peers and teachers put the friendship to the test and news stories of racial terrorism hit home hard?especially when Callum?s dad is directly involved in one! Accuse
d of bombing a shopping centre dominated by Crosses, he faces the prospect of capital punishment. (Now, I hate to do this to you, believe me, but to avoid letting you know the whole story, the cheesy rhetorical questions must follow: ) will the jury sympathise? How will this affect Sephy and Callum as individuals? How will it affect their friendship? Could things between them ever develop into more than friendship? Well, I think we all know the answer to that last one?.but fear not, with regards to the other questions Blackman does not allow herself to fall into the trap of so many other authors for ?young readers?; things do not all end hunky-dory?..dun, dun, dun-dun!
For me, the most impressive thing about ?Noughts and crosses? is Blackman?s use of language. Indeed one critic credited her work as ?art? due to her ablity to craft the book with such careful focus: For example, her use of comic metaphors (such as ?time was going so slow I think I might have been dragging a blue whale behind it?), won?t exactly leave you in stitches. However this technique does: ensure a break from the moments of tension, which keep the reader gripped throughout; allow for a gradual build up to the ultimate climax at the end and, of course, keep the reader fairly amused.
However, Blackman also uses several more poignant ?image? metaphors (?that?s what I?d call them anyway, using my best English teacher impression.) The example that remains with me being; ?Love was like an avalanche, with Sephy and I hand-in-hand racing like hell to get out of its way -only, instead of running away from it, we kept running straight towards it.? This may sound a little cringe-worthy, I know, but when put into context it allows the reader to empathise with some of Callum and Sephy?s deepest, darkest feelings, and paints a clear memorable picture in their mind.
Blackman uses detailed descriptions throughout. Such verisimilar allusions enable the reader to comprehend t
hat the book is not just merely a work of fiction; rather that Blackman uses Sephy and Callum to epitomize the millions of real-life characters who have in the past, and continue to, undergo similar circumstances. It is quite obvious that She feels this necessary in accomplishing her main objective; to trigger all readers? opposition to rascism in the modern world. I will be honest though, if you are one of those ?bigot-and-proud? types, I can?t imagine that the book will sway you. ?Sure, what happens is sad but that doesn?t change how I feel,? you?ll say -then again if you really are so narrow-minded I doubt you?d have picked the book up in the first place!
However the novel, at least in part, achieves its aim by reminding the more liberal of an issue that otherwise risks being eschewed in contemporary Britain for fear of embarrassment over discussing it?Indeed, the thing I like best about Blackman?s overall style is her avoidance of relating the novel to any particular time or place thus allowing the topic of equality to remain relevant even in places that are not normally associated with discrimination. Though there are sections where certain specifics are reminiscent, (e.g. Hitler?s attempts to promote Eugenics and the events in USA, mid 20th century,) this is only to educate the reader about the extremities of racist acts.
I don?t think I can praise ?Nought and crosses? enough without repeating how great it is (thus making you think I?m hyperbolising ?ph!that?s a big word.) All I can say is just give it a go! I know it?s supposedly a children?s book?...but then so is ?Harry Potter? and believe me, it?s quite surprising how many adults think they can ?embrace their inner-child? reading that sort of??well, I won?t say it-I know I can?t risk insulting J.K.Rowling without getting millions of comments back?..you get the jist.
Anyway, it?ll only take a few hours, so leave your computer alone for a little while ?it?ll do your eyes good, if not
hing else ;-) Don?t be afraid??after all, it?s ?art???apparently!