Double Cross (Noughts & Crosses) by Malorie Blackman

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Double Cross (Noughts & Crosses) by Malorie Blackman

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Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Tense, immediate, colloquial, heart-breaking - Blackman's Noughts & Crosses sequence continues to raise the bar with this latest instalment. Don't miss them.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 448 Date: November 2008
Publisher: Doubleday
ISBN: 0385615515

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Only Callie Rose knows the truth - the bomb that killed her grandmother wasn't the work of a Nought terrorist. She made it herself. And it haunts her; she's unable to let it go. Her best friend Tobey tries to help, but he's caught up with worries of his own. A Nought boy at an exclusive Cross school, Tobey has dreams of going to university and getting out of the cycle of poverty and violence. But he's finding escape almost impossible. Rival gangs are tearing up the neighbourhood and it's impossible to not ally yourself with one or the other. And he's tempted. If he could just earn some money making one or two deliveries for McAuley, he could buy Callie Rose a birthday present.

Little does he know what a chain reaction of violence and recrimination making those deliveries will cause...

Double Cross retains the themes of racism in its newly post-apartheid world of Noughts and Crosses but it also brings in a new edge. Gangs are endemic in poor urban areas but they also flouish in collapsing authoritarian societies and so are greatly apropos to Blackman's dystopian world. Here, she focuses on gangs, rather than the freedom-fighter-or-terrorist debate which took centre stage in previous volumes in this wonderful sequence.

Again, there's a star-crossed love affair between the main protagonists, Callie Rose and Tobey, with so many obstacles placed between them only true love could find its way through. Blackman is very strong when talking about teen emotions with their wild ups and downs, and she marches through adult objections to graphic sex scenes with utter confidence and aplomb. Would-be censors should read and take note - you can describe teen sex without either glorifying it or presaging personal ruin. If only sex were like this in adult books, too!

It takes the now familiar alternate first person narrator structure that has proved so compelling over the series and it's equally compelling here. In it, lies the true tragedy, as misunderstandings and failed communication cause as much damage as the social forces do.

I love, love, love these books. They're tense, immediate, colloquial, and heart-breaking. And they speak directly to your innermost self, utterly without fear. Double Cross comes highly recommended by Bookbag.

My thanks to the nice people at Doubleday for sending the book.

It's hard to match Noughts & Crosses with suggestions for further reading. It's in a class of its own. But for those interested in near future dystopias with a kitchen sink feel about them, The Witness by James Jauncey is an excellent read.

Booklists.jpg Double Cross (Noughts & Crosses) by Malorie Blackman is in the Top Ten Dystopian Books For Children.

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Buy Double Cross (Noughts & Crosses) by Malorie Blackman at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Double Cross (Noughts & Crosses) by Malorie Blackman at


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