Saturday, September 6, 2014

BOOK REVIEW | Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman

4 heart broken stars.

Oh, there's my heart: in pieces on the floor.

Good God, this book was like taking a stab directly in the heart. Noughts & Crosses is an alternative world where blacks, called Crosses, are the ruling class and whites, called naughts, are the lower class -- its setting seemed like a mix of the-right-now, in terms of technology, and the 1960s, in terms of racial acceptance. The story centers around Persephone Hadley, a very rich, Cross girl and Callum McGregor, a very poor, naught boy. The two formed a friendship when they were kids and Callum's parents worked for Sephy's. This friendship survived the years of racism they both must endure, as well as the crumbling of their respective families.

I want to start off with what I didn't like because it is far less than what I did. I'm not sure if there was a formatting issue from the book version to Kindle version, but the format of this was all over the place, which means that grammatical errors abound. This edition would sometimes capitalize the "n" in naughts (also spelled noughts, occasionally), leave out much needed periods or commas and was just all around a mess. I wish I had the paperback to compare it to. In terms of the story, I did feel like Callum and Sephy's character developments were a bit rushed and the reader wasn't able to really see them grow except when it was shoved upon them because we were in their point-of-view. Maybe the author was afraid of this story being too long, considering it's almost 400 pages as is, but I think this story could have been really epic had she slowed down and really polished certain parts.

What I did love is perhaps the most important story when trying to give a social commentary: the content. Blackman created an entire different universe that is, in essence, the same as our own universe. The reader watches as the two main characters are torn apart by bigotry and racism, not allowed to be together simply because of the color of their own skin. It's hard to believe that something this stupid ever happened - and is still happening! - today. She thought of everything, from the color of bandaids to the hiding of white people from the history books. I have to say that this opened my eyes a lot. I had never even considered the color of band aids before, yet now I can see it. I can see it clearly.

I especially loved the following quote. It is so easier to think the world would be better if only you were in charge or someone else could take the lead, or this President weren't in office, or this governor hadn't be elected. If only it had been someone else. Well...

"I'm not sure I share your faith in a society ruled by naughts," Jack tells me thoughtfully. "People are people. We'll always find a way to mess up, doesn't matter who's in charge."

Highly recommended. This was a three-star up until that ending, but that ending. Wow. I won't say anything more, but wow.

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