March 10, 2010

Naughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman

Date Started: March 6
Date Finished:
March 8

Persephone "Sephy" Hadley is a Cross and Callum McGregor is a naught. In this world, Crosses are the dark skinned ruling class and the naughts are the light skinned lower class that are being oppressed by the crosses

The best thing about this novel is what is underneath the surface of the actual story. On the cover of the book it states that the story is a thriller. In some ways, it is a thriller dealing with the struggle of overthrowing a government from the ground up. Most of all, it's a love story, even though the story is written in a way that makes the relationship aspect take a backseat, even though it is the main thrust of the story. The concept of the story takes that "What if..." idea to a whole new level. It is obvious that the racial angle of this story is it's selling point, but the story couldn't work if you flipped the races. If Sephy was white, I don't think I would be inclined to see what she has to say about race and skin color. If Callum was Black, it would be too like real life. As a person of color, I have to experience what Callum was going through on a systematic level, maybe not the extreme that was in the novel, but I still had to deal with injustices. Sephy had her heart in the right place, but it was easy to see that she just wasn't aware of how dangerous her friendship with Callum was.

The author takes the issues of race and casts them in a different light. She didn't really judge on who was right and who was wrong. She allowed the reader to come to their own conclusion. It is amazing how the author was able to capture the complex feelings of institutionalized racism from both sides from an objective standpoint.

The story itself was simple. A bit like Romeo and Juliet. I still would have picked this story up had it been marketed as a romance, but thankfully it wasn't because it was deeper than that. The story was a little slow paced, but the author does a wonderful job of setting up the character's backstories, their relationships with each other, and their motivation. She does it without the relationship being overly sentimental or over taking the story. 

It takes some time to get used to the actual writing. There's nothing wrong with it from a readers standpoint other than the characters are a little overly chatty at times (given it's a first person, that's too be expected a bit)As a writer, the story breaks all the "rules" as far as punctuation and using "Said" as one of your only tags. It doesn't detract from the story in either way, just the writer in me saying "I thought you couldn't do that." Maybe the British do it differently, lol.

This was a great book if one can look beyond the surface of what's actually there. The story in and of itself is great, amazing even. The plot is straightforward. To fully enjoy the novel, it's interesting to see the context in which the novel was created. Maybe it's because I'm a person of color, I might read it differently than someone who hasn't experienced the stuff that Callum experienced during the course of the novel.

Is it Naughts or Noughts? I'm not sure. I'm just going to put Naughts, because that's what my edition has written.

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