Noble Conflict by Malorie Blackman

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Noble Conflict by Malorie Blackman

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Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Brilliant dystopian storytelling - as ever - from Malorie Blackman in a tale of propaganda, newspeak, and subtle authoritarianism. We love Blackman's books.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 368 Date: June 2013
Publisher: Doubleday
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 0385610424

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Kaspar believes in the Alliance with a whole heart. Who wouldn't? In the face of terrorist attacks from the Crusader Insurgency, the Alliance's response is non-fatal. Its security forces are equipped with stun guns and captured insurgents are not killed. They're incapacitated, given medical treatment and imprisoned. Guardians like Kaspar are trained to defend themselves against these unprovoked attacks in the least violent way possible. And considering the Crusaders destroyed their own country before attacking Kaspar's, you can see how measured and ethical the Alliance's response seems.

But then Kaspar is involved in several actions that make him question the motives of the Insurgents. Twice, he watches them commit suicide to avoid capture. And then, as he lies alone and injured, another one - Rhea - risks capture and saves his life. Why would mindless violent criminals do such things? With the help of a young librarian, Mackenzie, Kaspar tries to piece together this mystery. But nothing about it makes any sense at all...

I love the way Malorie Blackman writes. She just gets on with it, you know? And, while her settings are nothing unusual in a world of dystopian YA fiction, her plotting is second to none. And the relationships and romances she describes for her central characters are taken from the real world, not from Mills & Boon. Don't expect hearts and flowers. Expect obstacles and bitternesses that just can't be forgotten. We should also remember that her Noughts and Crosses sequence was among the first in this current dystopian wave of stories.

Noble Conflict features Kaspar, who is breaking the rules not because there's an early reveal about the truth of his society. Kaspar isn't a freedom fighter, or at least, he isn't for a very long time. Kaspar is a loyal Guardian of the Alliance. He only breaks rules because he wants to better protect his society. It's very difficult for him to face the truth and this is why it takes him such a long time to see the reality behind the dots he has connected. Few other writers in the YA field have such confidence in their readers. But Blackman trusts hers completely and understands that Kaspar will be sympathetic even though he spends a long time on the side they know - and he doesn't - to be the wrong one. Neither is Blackman afraid to kill off a potentially favourite character - don't expect everyone you like to make it to the final page. But no spoilers, so that's all I'm saying about that.

As I hoped, Noble Conflict is gripping and powerful with a clever subtlety underlying the action. Characters you believe in. A strong morality and an acknowledgement that life is full of Catch-22s. What more could you want?


More great books with a dystopian setting and in which the central characters chip away to get at the truth of their worlds include ACID by Emma Pass, Bad Faith by Gillian Philip and Siege by Sarah Mussi.

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Buy Noble Conflict by Malorie Blackman at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Noble Conflict by Malorie Blackman at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Noble Conflict by Malorie Blackman at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Noble Conflict by Malorie Blackman at

Booklists.jpg Noble Conflict by Malorie Blackman is in the Top Ten Teen Books of 2013.


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