At the risk of sounding too dramatic, I’m just going to jump straight in and say these books really did change my life. They represent my transition from child to young adult (corny, I know) and every time I pick them up, I feel all that 12-year-old excitement for ‘proper reading’ come flooding back.
There are actually four books in this series, but it’s the trilogy that initially captured my imagination. (I read the fourth, Double Cross, but leant it to a friend about five years ago and haven’t seen it since. Not only that but I had it in hardback, which would’ve looked like the set’s gawky older brother in the photo!) I remember picking up Noughts & Crosses in WH Smith, my Mum giving me a stern should-you-be-reading-this? look as I bought it with my allowance, and then taking it everywhere – not putting it down until I reached the end, one night after school, and cried as I read the last few pages (The Jetset Life Is Gonna Kill You by My Chemical Romance was playing in the background. My emo phase was in full swing.)
The series takes place in an undisclosed location and time and follows the lives of Nought Callum and Cross Persephone (Sephy). In this world, the white Noughts are second to the black Crosses. With society so segregated, and Sephy’s dad being one of the most influential men in the country, for Sephy and Callum to have any kind of relationship is not only difficult, it’s life threatening. The story follows the Noughts vs. Crosses struggle that Callum, Sephy and their families face, and is a really gripping tale of love and politics with some heart-wrenching twists and turns. Seriously. I’m not joking when I said I couldn’t put it down.
The next two books in the series, Knife Edge and Checkmate, follow the story through from new and insightful perspectives. I don’t want to give anything away, but I can guarantee once you’ve finished Noughts & Crosses you’ll be itching to find out what happens next!
Noughts & Crosses will forever be my favourite book of all time. It showed me the wider world of reading, and gave me the experience of being totally lost in an alternate universe that television and younger books hadn’t quite given me before. Don’t get me wrong, Jacqueline Wilson is an absolute treasure, but Noughts & Crosses had something very different to offer. It not only introduced me to adult, raw emotions, but also to the types of social issues and conflict that crop up on the news every other day. I would even go so far as to say the series is the 00’s Hunger Games, in that they share some important political undertones, are young adult novels and, well, are trilogies. (Sort of.) It’s a stretch, but there’s a definite likeness. If you liked the Hunger Games, you’ll love Noughts & Crosses.
I would recommend this series to absolutely anyone who loves getting stuck into a good book and just feeling things. It very much falls into the YA category, but even if you’re long beyond that slightly awkward coming-of-age stage in your life, it’s still going to be one of those series that sticks around with you once you’re done.
Until next time,