This book has been on my TBR for a long time as it’s a book that was popular back when I was in school. I can remember so many of my friends reading it and talking about how great it is, yet I’m only getting round to reading it now. I spotted it in the local library and thought after years, I may as well finally read it.
Noughts and Crosses is a strong, shocking and thought – provoking book set in a reversed society to our own. It asks the difficult question of what life would be like if the roles were reversed and white individuals had the same treatment as black individuals throughout history and in daily life as we know it today.
The main storyline is based on Callum (a white Nought) and Persephone (a black Cross), young children blind to the colour differences of each other. As they grow up together it becomes more and more apparent that they can’t and shouldn’t be friends due to societal norms that Noughts shouldn’t blend with Crosses. For a long time they fight this idea yet it isn’t long before they are captured by the strong hatred and beliefs of the people around them.
Despite being set in England, it is a slightly different country to what we know today with one striking difference being that the death penalty has been a constant. To make it slightly more brutal, it has sustained support in the form of public hanging, something that did happen throughout history as we know it. Sadly there are a lot of overlaps to reality in this book, even the very apparent racism throughout. However this book makes the valuable point that despite it all, the characters are people who feel, love, and deserve to be in control of their lives.
With the societal reversal it gave a new insight into life and how it feels to be persecuted, treated as a second- class citizen based on skin colour. At the same time although this isn’t the world that we live in, I think it could easily have been that way. It is a shocking book not just for the skin colour theme but also due to some of the major storylines such as terrorism, relationships, violence and mental health. There were points when I found this book a bit heavy and started to wonder how I would have felt reading it back when I was in school and slightly more naïve. Although it is a book aimed at young adults it does tackle some pretty heavy issues.
It didn’t take me long to read this book however there were times I had to set it down and opt for the happier read. I found this plot gripping, intriguing and very hard to put down yet the parallels to society today were gut wrenching. It’s very hard to distance oneself from real life and a book that tackles very realistic ideals. Consequently I found it hard to leave this book behind even after finishing it and find it sneaking back into my mind. It’s incredible the power it holds and how much of a book hangover it left me with.
I gave this book a 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads because it can’t be denied it is a fantastic read. I did find it a little too close to home and hard to escape the real world when reading it and I know that sounds a little arrogant but reading to me has always been a form of escapism. This plot has a lot of hard truths so I think it is important to continue with the series, despite being fiction there is definitely a blend with reality. With strong writing, intriguing characters and plot twists around every corner this is a book that everyone should pick up at some point.