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'Knife Edge' is the second book in the Noughts & Crosses trilogy. I read the first book ('Noughts and Crosses') in my first year of uni so that was about seven years ago! I bought this as soon as it came out in paperback but it ended up shoved to the back of my "to read" pile. I was worried I wouldn't be able to get back into the story after so long but it was really easy; you could probably pick this up to read without even having read the first one.
I bought this for full price in Borders (£6.99 for a paperback) but as Borders has now shut down I checked the Amazon price for you and it'll currently cost you £4.86 (not including postage).
Here's the blurb:
"Sephy is a Cross, one of the privileged in a society where the ruling Crosses treat the pale-skinned noughts as inferiors. But her baby daughter has a nought father...
Jude is a nought. Eaten up with bitterness, he blames Sephy for the terrible losses his family have suffered...
Now Jude's life rests on a knife edge. Will Sephy be forced, once again, to take sides?"
So in Blackman's modern society, the race divide is in reverse to how it used to be here (and still is to some extent) - dark-skinned people (Crosses) have all the power and white-skinned people (Noughts) are treated as second class citizens, not long out of slavery. In the first book skin colour is barely mentioned so it was a clever way of dealing with racism but in this book the difference is high-lighted much more, especially as Sephy's baby is neither black nor white, Nought nor Cross.
The book is written in the first person but the narrator changes between characters for each chapter. However it doesn't get confusing as each chapter is numbered then titled with the name of the character speaking (plus there's a 0 or an X symbol next to them name depending on their class/race). This style of narration really helps you to understand each characters point of view and allows you to see different perspectives on the same story.
There are two central stories in this book: an 18-year old Sephy struggling to cope with a newborn baby and still grieving over the death of the baby's father, and Jude trying to survive as a member of the Liberation Militia and avoid prison or even the death penalty.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I think many older teens and adults would also enjoy it as it draws you in and makes you think. I just couldn't put this book down!
More information (and spoilers!) can be found here:
Knife Edge is the second book in the Noughts and Crosses series and continues on the story of Persephone 'Sephy' Hadley. Written again in first person the chapters alternate this time between Sephy and Jude primarily, with some chapters telling the story from the view of Sephy's mum, Jasmine, and Callum's mum, Meggie.
Like Noughts and Crosses, this book carries on the exploration of racial prejudice in an innovative and inverted fashion. Malorie Blackman presents to us a world where coloured people, Crosses, were never the ones to be slaves but were in fact the slavers and white people - Noughts, who are historically the slavers are in fact the slaves. This message isn't as profound in this novel as it was in the previous, this novel tending to revolve around Sephy's personal plight, but the message is still very much there.
Plot - basic overview avoiding spoilers:
With Callum's demise in the previous novel, his lover Sephy is left to raise their 'halfer' child, Callie Rose alone. And it proves to be no easy task. Sephy must deal with the loss of Callum and the derision of everyone besides her closest family. A child who is half Nought and half Cross appears to be unacceptable to either side, and Sephy must deal with the disgust of the general public. Her world is then shaken to its very foundation by a letter received from a prison guard who claims the letter was written by Callum...
Jude, Callum's brother, becomes even more twisted and embroiled in the schemes of the Liberation Militia, the Nought freedom fighter cell. His hate for Crosses is reinforced by his brothers death, which he blames entirely on Sephy and for which he wants revenge. But then Jude does something that truly disgusts himself, he falls in love with a beautiful and open-minded cross called Cara. So confused is he by his confusing emotions that he commits a most heinous crime, and only Sephy can save him from hanging...
Just like the first book, Blackman has presented us with incredibly deep and heart wrenching characters. Very human characters that are only to easy to identify with, understand and sympathise with.
Sephy's plight is so real and so very heart wrenching that I was constantly just wishing that Callum would walk through the door, wrap his arms around her and banish all her worries and problems.
Audience: Not suitable for younger readers due to violent scenes. Mature teens and adults who don't mind a more simplistic style of reading will appreciate it.
Definitely worth the read. The message about the futility and unjustness of racial segregation is expertly portrayed in conjunction with a well written, moving and often chilling story with very real and human characters that alternatively warm your heart, make you cry and chill you to the bone. A very good read in my opinion.
Knife Edge is the second part of the noughts and crosses trilogy. Sephy has had her baby Callie Rose and Callum is dead. The book mainly shows the thoughts and views ove Jude and Sephy. Other characters like Jasmine and Meggie are also brought into it. Jude is now even worse. He is colder than usual and a stone cold killer. When he falls in love with a cross he cannot take the emotion and ends up killing her. He soon gets over it though. His main goal in life is to seek revenge for his brother, Callum, by killing Sephy. The story goes on to describe the lives of both of them. Sephy trying to struggle her way through and cope with her baby and the public. Jude with only one thing on his mind. How will it end? The book is very good and still keeps me into it. However, i do not believe it is better than noughts and crosses as i found it rather boring sometimes when Sephy is talking about her baby problems. A good book overall though.
In the second of the Noughts and Crosses series by Malorie Blackman, Knife Edge explores the new relationship between Persephone Hadley (Sephy) her relatives and the general public, as she is left in a world where Noughts and Crosses envy each other. Having been left alone to bring up the half nought, half cross baby daughter, Callie Rose, Sephy is left hated and despised by all but her closest relatives and friends. It just doesn't seem right to them - half and half? You're either on our side or theirs...
Knife Edge continues on the racist theme first seen in Noughts and Crosses, but this book will not be suitable for younger readers, I must note. While Noughts and Crosses was quite suitable to the younger generation and above (10+ I'd say), this book ought to be avoided by under-15s and the faint-hearted.
Sephy eventually comes to terms of the responsibilities of looking after and caring for her baby. It initially takes some time, as the only thing Sephy cared for was Callum, hanged for kidnapping her in an apparent Liberation Militia feat supposedly used to strengthen an equality message. Sephy was drawn into Callum's world, though, and she loved him ever so dearly, with their bond seemingly very strong. When Callum was caught for his misdemeanours, however, the sentence was lethal - death. Sephy begins in this 2nd of the trilogy in an awfully depressed state, wondering what might have been.
She eventually sees sense however, and finds a new Callum in the eyes of Callie Rose, their daughter. Sephy vows that she will care for this baby by all means, and would NEVER let her get into trouble. Sephy soon finds a new bond, finding Callie irresistible.
She then has the dilemma of choosing a new home. The residence she had found was much too tacky and unsuitable for bringing up a baby. She finds hope in both Callie's grandmothers, however. Jasmine, Sephy's mother, and Meggie, Callie's mom, both offer their help in bringing up the baby. In my opinion, Sephy makes a seriously bad decision here - she ought to have gone home to safety, to her rich mom, forgiving her drunken, morbid times and her rejecting of Sephy as a child. She would have been safer. But she chose Meggie's abode, a nought, or blanker, where trouble could be much more rife.
But then comes the shock; a big shock. The hardest part of writing reviews on books is not giving the story away - so that you can experience the drama for yourselves. All I will say then, is that there is an amazing development (whether true or not remains to be seen - you as a reader will decide) that TOTALLY changes the storyline. This development has major repercussions, including Sephy's attitude to the baby, her attitude towards life and an astoundingly low self-esteem. Sephy practically feels like an object, thrown between people like a toy, yet totally oblivious to how she was being mocked. If true, this development hits back HARD at the reader, and changes your view completely. It really is sad if it was true, but makes for a highly compelling, page-turning read.
The story cleverly follows the lives of mainly Sephy and Jude. Jude is the brother of Callum, and envies all crosses. No matter what, his hate for crosses is a very hard wall to break down, as his whole life is set on causing havoc to crosses, in a bid to strengthen the power of the noughts. Jude shot Minerva, Sephy's sister. He is now hell bent on completing other Liberation Militia (LM) assignments, including that of killing Sephy and Andrew Dorn, traitor of the LM. Jude is a highly sought after character, wanted by police for countless crimes, and must keep a low profile at all times. I think the dramatisation of Jude and his secretive character is excellently portrayed, in addition to his overriding aim to hate and torment all crosses.
As the story develops, Sephy finds herself employment and begins to get on with her life. She even begins to get a little more flirtatious, a sign of a happier character perhaps. Jude, however, finds another prime target. I was gob smacked with how Jude treated this new girlfriend he finds though. She's a beautiful, harmless cross lady, and she has no qualms with anybody, no matter what their colour, religion or beliefs. It gets to the point where Jude looks like cracking, finally putting all this hate behind him, and loving a cross just as he could and would want to. He finds himself fighting with himself, should he, shouldn't he; readers explore the various 'laws' Jude keeps - never to feel, for one. His way out is extreme at the very least though, and that's all I'll say - no spoiling for you - you can get the book and still enjoy it!
There is another important development that sees Sephy having to choose between her own feelings, and Meggie's feelings as to the future of Jude. Jude's entire life rests in the hands of Sephy, and while Sephy hates every single speck of Jude for what he did to her sister, as well as the fact that Sephy knows Jude hates her, she can't help but feel for Meggie - it's her only son left. She is left to choose something that is an incredibly hard decision to make.
There is not an amazingly dramatic ending to this book, as, in effect, it's the middle of a story - book 2 of 3. However, Sephy's daughter doesn't appear to be breathing correctly at the end of the story! Luckily, the book contains a short introduction to the final book in the trilogy, which confirms the baby does indeed still live.
By the end of this book, you have learnt a lot more about the characters and their feelings about everything Sephy is doing / could do. The story also follows the lives of Jasmine, Meggie and Minerva, and it's interesting to see their viewpoints and relationships with Sephy and her baby.
The main questions now are: what will Sephy's baby be as a person, how will the Jude / Sephy relationship develop and what will the relatives of Sephy, her baby and Jude, as well as the general public think of the future developments of Sephy's baby? I think the key to the final book, Checkmate, is Sephy's baby, who grows up quickly - 16 when she starts the book I believe! I read this, and boy, I can't wait for the book to come out in paperback!
I hope I've given you an insight into this book, yet not gave enough away to mean you don't need to buy it. It's a fantastic read, but you would be much better off reading Noughts and Crosses first (read my review of that too if you like). I give this book 5 stars as it's highly engrossing, and the descriptions are very vivid indeed. The book is priced £6.99 (paperback) but you can find it much cheaper online. Thanks for reading and enjoy!
Benjamin Riches (wbafcben)
A frightened girl running barefoot on a knife edge . . . that's how eighteen-year-old Sephy feels as she gazes down at her new-born daughter, Callie Rose. Whilst Sephy is a Cross, the baby's father, Callum, was a nought, giving Callie Rose dual heritage in a society where the ruling Crosses treat the pale-skinned noughts - blankers - as second-class citizens. What kind of world will her daughter grow up into? One which is more equal? Or one where discrimination still has the power to destroy lives? Sephy can only hope that the tomorrows will be better than the yesterdays. But fifteen years later, Callie Rose's actions are to plunge both of them into the heart of danger, forcing Sephy - once again - to take sides . . . Sequel to the award-winning Noughts & Crosses, Knife Edge is a razor-sharp and intensely moving novel for older readers. Set against an epic background of conflict, confrontation and courage, it is impossible to put down - and impossible to forget.