Noughts & Crosses (novel series)
The series describes an alternative history of human evolution in which African people had gained a technological and organisational advantage over the European people, rather than the other way around, with Africans having made Europeans their slaves. The series takes place in an alternate 21st-century Britain.
At the time of the series, slavery had been abolished for some time, but segregation, similar to Jim Crow, continues to operate to keep the crosses (Blacks) in control of the noughts (Whites). An international organisation, the Pangaean Economic Community, exists. Seeming to be similar to the United Nations in scope but similar to the European Union in powers, it is playing a role in forcing change by directives and boycotts.
Noughts & Crosses
|Series||Noughts & Crosses saga|
|Subject||Forbidden love, Racism|
|Genre||Action, Adventure, Romance|
|Followed by||Knife Edge|
Persephone ("Sephy") Hadley is a cross, with dark skin, and the daughter of a wealthy senior politician, Kamal. Callum McGregor is a nought, with light skin. They used to play together when Jasmine, Sephy's mother, employed Meggie, Callum's mother, as a nanny. However, Jasmine fires Meggie for being unable to provide an alibi for Jasmine when Kamal confronts Jasmine's about his suspicions of her infidelity: that is only strongly suggested for now but is made explicit later. Since then, Sephy and Callum's friendship has been secret. As best friends, their relationship is frowned upon by society, like interracial friendships in the Southern United States before the Civil Rights Movement but in reverse, as dark skin is considered much better to have than light skin.
Callum is one of the first few noughts to start at Heathcroft, a high school for crosses that now accepts the best-performing noughts. Sephy is overjoyed to find that Callum is in her class after helping him pass the entrance examination. However, most of her classmates do not accept her association with a nought. The two develop a more intimate connection, and Sephy does not care about the opposition and even sits with at a table with noughts. That angers Callum, but the two make up.
Meanwhile, Callum's elder brother, Jude, and his father, Ryan, join the Liberation Militia (LM), a violent terrorist organisation against cross supremacy. Jasmine becomes an alcoholic.
Callum's troubled elder sister, Lynette, commits suicide by throwing herself in front of a bus. Only Callum knows that it was suicide, as Lynette had left him a secret note that talks of her depression after an attack on her and her cross boyfriend. Everyone else thinks that it was a tragic accident, despite all of her previous suicide attempts.
Jude and Ryan are accused of lethally bombing Dundale Shopping Centre, which was committed by the LM. Callum is also accused after he tells Sephy to get out of the shopping centre but goes free for lack of evidence. Callum has to leave school, and Ryan faces the gallows. Jasmine, remembering that she used to be friends with the McGregor family, secretly hires a prominent cross lawyer to defend Ryan. Escaping hanging, Ryan gets a life sentence but is killed by an electric fence, supposedly in an escape attempt.
Sephy decides to get a new start and persuades a reluctant Jasmine to let her attend a boarding school, Chivers. Sephy has not heard from Callum for a week so she writes him a letter asking him to run away with her and telling him that she will be leaving for Chivers if he does not contact her. However, Callum has decided to join the LM, against the wishes of his mother, and he does not read the letter until just before Sephy leaves. Callum sprints to Sephy's house and fails to catch up with the car as it pulls out of the driveway. Having not seen Callum running behind, Sephy concludes that their friendship is no longer as important to him as she had thought.
Years later, Sephy returns home from Chivers. She enters the house and discovers that Callum had left her a letter telling her to meet him at the family's private beach. Sephy decides to meet up with him but later she finds out that Callum is there with others from the LM to kidnap her and hold her hostage. Jude punches Sephy in the stomach, and the gang members take her to their hideout. The members of the LM deliver a message to Sephy's father, Kamal, to release at least five LM from prison and pay money if he wants to see Sephy alive.
The LM's second-in-command, Andrew Dorn, visits Callum and his cell members. Andrew informs Kamal of where two of the LM team members are while they are making phone calls. One is killed, and the other is put in jail.
During a time alone, Callum visits a hurt Sephy in the room where she is being held. Callum reveals to Sephy that he tried to catch up with her before she left for Chivers, and he was unable to catch up with her. Their love rekindles and, after Callum whispers that he loves her, they make love. Afterwards, Sephy cannot seem to stop crying, and Jude walks in. He calls Callum an idiot for sleeping with her.
Sephy escapes into the woods and is soon chased by Jude and Morgan, the other survivor. Callum finds her and gives false instructions to the others. Callum then gives Sephy instructions to escape. Sephy tells Callum that she had seen Andrew, without knowing his identity, in her house with Kamal, which shows that Andrew is a government informer.
Callum tell the rest of the gang what Sephy said about Andrew. The members agree to split up and keep a low profile for six months and not meet up until Callum's birthday.
Sephy feels an unusual tummy bug come on. Her sister, Minerva, asks if she is pregnant, which Sephy denies. Sephy takes a pregnancy test, which reveals she is pregnant with Callum's child. Meanwhile, Callum is working as a mechanic, as a cover, and hears Kamal on the radio, denying rumours that his daughter is pregnant. Sephy's parents learn of her pregnancy and pressure her to have an abortion, but Sephy repeatedly refuses.
Callum then meets with Sephy in the Hadleys' rose garden. Sephy confirms the rumours, and they decide on names for the child: Ryan, after Callum's father, if it is a boy, and Callie Rose if it is a girl. Callum is found in the garden and is arrested. No one believes Sephy when she maintains that she was not raped. Callum has his trial and is sentenced to be hanged. Kamal tells Sephy that if she keeps her child, Callum will be hanged, but if she has the abortion, he will serve years in prison instead. Kamal makes a similar offer to Callum but also wants Callum to say publicly that he raped her. Both decide to keep the baby.
On the day of Callum's hanging, he asks his guard, Jack, to deliver a letter to Sephy personally. Callum is then led to the gallows. He fails to find Sephy in the crowd before the hood is put on. He then hears Sephy shouting, 'I love you'. He shouts back, 'I love you too'. Sephy watches the trapdoor open and sees Callum's limp, lifeless body hanging from the noose. She hears Callum shouting to her but is unsure if she heard the word 'too' so she cannot be sure that Callum heard her.
The story ends with a newspaper cutting announcing the birth of their child, Callie Rose, with an announcement from Sephy that her daughter will take her father's surname of McGregor. (However, in later books, it is revealed that Sephy changes her mind so that Callie Rose can grow up without knowing her father's role in the LM.)
The novella changes the ending of Noughts and Crosses and was published for World Book Day 2012.
Callum decides to let Sephy flee from the other kidnappers while they are out. While he shows her the way back to town, Sephy badly injures her foot. He talks her into spending the night with her in an abandoned shack for her to recover. There, they argue but then realise their mutual love. They decide to run away together. They fall asleep after making love.
The two are surprised by the rest of the gang. Jude and Callum point their guns at each other. Sephy takes advantage of the confusion to flee. Jude and Callum point their guns at each other, and the story ends as a cliffhanger.
An Eye For an Eye
The novella gives an insight into the events of Knife Edge. Written for World Book Day 2003, it has been republished in a new edition of Noughts & Crosses. An Eye For an Eye describes one evening while Sephy is pregnant with Callie Rose when her sister, Minerva, visits her. Minerva offers to patch up things with Jasmine, but Sephy tries to get Minerva to leave. As Sephy had feared after being followed by Jude for a few days, he arrives, planning to murder Sephy.
Jude, Callum's older brother, watches Sephy enter her apartment building, and he plans to kill her. However, he does not know that Minerva, is in Sephy's apartment as well.
Sephy tells Jude that she knew that he intended to kill her just before midnight since it was Callum's birthday that day. Jude feels that Sephy is responsible for Callum's death and wants to make sure that Sephy will not see Callum's next birthday since Callum had not seen his next birthday. Sephy is not alarmed and does not protest, but Minerva panics. Sephy tells Jude that he would be doing her a favour by killing her and wants to die because she misses Callum. When Minerva tries to change her mind, Sephy declares that she hates the baby because it was alive and that Callum should be alive instead. (That is a lie, and Sephy later threatens to kill Jude if he ever hurts her child.)
Sephy begins to provoke Jude by saying that she and Callum loved each other and Kamal offered her a choice of keeping the baby and letting Callum be hanged or getting an abortion and saving his life. Jude loses his temper and tries to shoot Sephy, but his gun jams. Minerva, in an attempt to save Sephy and herself, runs towards the front door and screams to attract attention. That fails, and Jude shoots her in the shoulder. Jude realises that Sephy seriously wants to die so he decides that since killing her would be to do her a favour, he will make her suffer instead.
Jude gives Sephy permission to call an ambulance for Minerva and tells her that he knows she cares about her sister and her family, especially her child. He then tells her that he plans to use her baby to hurt her. Sephy threatens to kill him if he hurts her child, but she later pleads with Jude to leave both of them alone. Jude leaves just as the ambulance arrives, with a new plan in mind. Sephy makes Minerva lie about her injuries.
|Series||Noughts & Crosses Saga|
|Genre||Young adult fiction|
|5 February 2004|
|Preceded by||Noughts & Crosses|
Sephy is a cross, the privileged treated by noughts as inferiors, but Callum was a nought. Callum's brother, Jude, blames Sephy for the terrible losses his family has suffered and is determined to destroy Sephy's life by any means necessary. He meets Cara Imega, a cross, and befriends her to access her money.
Sephy, living with Callum's mother, Meggie, becomes increasingly fond of her daughter, Callie Rose. Callum's guard, Jack, delivers a letter, written by Callum before he died, saying that he never loved her and could not believe that she was stupid enough to fall for him. Meggie tries to make Sephy believe that Callum was forced to write the letter by the rest of the gang, but the letter is so hurtful that Sephy believes it and becomes full of postnatal depression. She meets Jaxon, a hot-tempered man with a band, the Midges. He offers Sephy a singing part, but the noughts are prejudiced against her because she is a cross. She begins to neglect Callie Rose.
Cara spends a lot of time with Jude. Although he loathes Crosses, he begins to fall in love with her. Frustrated and confused with his feelings for a cross, Jude beats her severely and runs off with a large amount of money. After she dies in hospital, Jude is eventually arrested and charged with Cara's murder. He is virtually certain to get the death sentence since his fingerprints are all over her apartment and had been seen with her by several witnesses.
Sephy struggles with seeing Meggie losing the last remaining member of her family. Sephy decides, for Meggie's sake, to give Jude a false alibi for Cara's death. That works, and after serving a few months in prison for LM membership, Jude accuses Andrew of Cara's murder and calls him as a government informer; Andrew is soon shot dead by the LM. Jude, even though Sephy saved his miserable life, still holds his grudge against her and still plots a terrible revenge.
Sephy's life begins to fall apart. The crosses hate her because she helped Jude escape the noose, the noughts because she did not come to his aid sooner. She hugs her daughter too tightly while she sing the famous song "Rainbow Child". Callie Rose stops breathing, and Meggie screams at Sephy, "What have you done?" The book concludes in a cliffhanger without stating whether Callie Rose will survive.
|Series||Noughts & Crosses Saga|
|Genre||Young adult fiction|
|30 June 2005|
|Preceded by||Knife Edge|
|Followed by||Double Cross|
Callie Rose struggles with growing up as half-nought and half-cross after she learns the truth about her nought father's life from her friend, Tobey, who calls her a terrorist's daughter. Callie Rose had been told by her mother that her father, Callum, had been a gardener who died in an accident. Callie Rose becomes angry with her mother, Sephy, for hiding the truth. She decides to follow the path of her father with her new hate-filled personality. She also cuts off her friendship with nought Tobey despite his attempts to apologise. Sephy feels trapped and rejects an offer of marriage from her boyfriend, Sonny. Sephy then meets Nathan, the owner of the restaurant in which she sings, and the two start a relationship.
Jude takes Callie Rose to Kamal's house. After Kamal denies that she is his granddaughter, Jude, now the General of the LM, exploits her anger to groom her to become a suicide bomber.
Callie Rose starts dating Lucas, a cross who is an ex-friend's brother. Jasmine, Sephy's mother, does what she can to bring Callie and Sephy closer together but develops breast cancer and struggles with her life. In a moment of weakness, she drinks a glass of wine despite having banned herself from alcohol for life. Nathan proposes to Sephy, who accepts, but Sonny shows up in her life again. Sephy is left confused but engaged.
Celine Lubanjah, the daughter of Callum's prison guard Jack, gives a letter that was written by Callum before he was hanged. Callum told Jack this is the letter with his real feelings. Callum says in the letter he greatly wishes that he had been able to stay with Sephy, as he loved her so much. He also tells Sephy to keep his past secret from their child.
Sephy and Callie Rose resume their relationship after Jasmine traps them in her wine cellar so that they sort things out. Jasmine sets off the bomb to prevent Jude from injuring anyone else. Kamal had been the intended target of the bomb, but he only loses power, after Jasmine had sent a letter to the press about his rampant corruption.
|Series||Noughts & Crosses Saga|
|Genre||Young adult fiction|
Kamal's party loses the election badly to a more liberal government, but Callie Rose knows secretly that she made the bomb that killed Jasmine and that it was intended it for her ex-husband, Kamal. Callie Rose also fears that Jude, her uncle, is still alive since he is known for serving revenge cold. Also, the press fails to mention Jude in connection to the bomb but notes the death of Robert Powers.
Her best friend and later boyfriend, Tobey, is worried about his own future. As a nought boy at an exclusive school, Tobey hopes to keep out of trouble, go to university, get a good job and leave behind the dangerous streets of his childhood. However, he cannot keep clinging to some kind of no-man's land while the neighbourhood around him is carved up by rival gangs, one headed by a ruthless man, Alex McAuley, the head of a gang of noughts, and another headed by the Dowds, the head of a gang of crosses. Both are powerful gangs that frequently injure and kill each other's members as well as suspected informants.
Tobey is offered the chance to earn some ready money just making a few 'deliveries' after he is introduced by a friend, Dan, who works for McAuley. Tobey wants no part of the world of gangs but makes an exception for once.
Tobey finds out that the delivery was the little finger of one of the Dowds, a manager at the restaurant. He keeps the secret from his girlfriend. They start kissing and touching each other. Callie Rose asks Tobey if he is ready.
Tobey takes her hand and places it over his erection. Callie Rose agrees, and Tobey manages to find a condom from under his bed from one of the five whole spare packets under his bed. Callie Rose teases him about being a sexbot. Tobey and Callie Rose resume kissing after Tobey has put the condom on. They both strip and make love. At first, it is painful for Callie Rose, but then Tobey 'enters her fully', and it is pleasurable for both of them. Callie Rose then leaves but promises to meet Tobey again.
The next day, when Dan, Tobey and Callie Rose get together, Callie Rose is shot by a hail of bullets from McAuley. Her surgery is successful, but she ends up in coma. Sephy is furious at Tobey for not becoming more of a man and telling the police who shot Callie Rose. Sephy does not know that Tobey has sworn revenge on McAuley and plans on doing so 'himself'.
While Callie Rose is in hospital, Tobey gets a new job at TFTM (Thanks for the Memories), the Dowds' restaurant. He meets Rebecca, Vanessa Dowd's daughter. Rebecca loves his company, as he treats her like a person, unlike other boys, who are interested only in her family and money. Tobey eventually goes out with her but is confused between her and Callie Rose.
Callie Rose wakes from her coma and finds out that Robert Powers was a false identity of Jude, who thus was certainly killed by the bomb. However, she learns that Tobey is dating Rebecca and that she had been in coma for so long.
During a visit to Vanessa Dowd's house, Tobey is revealed to have been making deliveries for McAuley. Rebecca is shocked, but Tobey reassures her that he does not work for him any longer. However, he decides to end their relationship and become merely 'friends'. When Rebecca leaves, McAuley appears and stabs her. He then orders Tobey to meet him at his warehouse.
Tobey knows that McAuley wants to kill him, but a plan is set up with Owen Dowd, Rebecca's brother. He puts a great deal of money in Byron Sweet, one of McAuley's minions, to frame him as a traitor. He goes to the warehouse and successfully executes his plan. However, he is almost killed by two more of McAuley's minions. Luckily, Dan appears from nowhere and kills the two minions outside and McAuley, saving Tobey's life. Dan ends up on the run.
Jasmine, in her will, gives both houses, including the beach, to Sephy. She also gives sums to her Meggie (to whom she writes a letter of apology), Callie Rose, Minerva, Zuri, Taj and Sarah.
Tobey tells Callie that he is responsible for the deaths of five people (Rebecca Dowd, Bryon Sweet, Alex McAuley and minions Dave and Scott) and that Dan is on the run. Callie then points out that Jasmine and Jude died because of her. They eventually resume their relationship and admit their love.
In the epilogue, it is revealed that both Callie and Tobey go to university to study law and that Tobey has set up and helps fund the Meadowview Shelter to help those with drug and alcohol addictions.
The character from all books from the series are as follows:
- Persephone Mira Hadley: Nicknamed Sephy, the daughter of a powerful cross, Kamal Hadley. She was childhood best friends with Callum despite their different backgrounds, and she eventually falls in love with him. After a few years have passed without contact, Callum kidnaps her, but they end up sleeping together and have a daughter, Callie Rose, who is raised by Sephy and Meggie after Callum is killed. She starts to have feelings for bandmate Sonny. However, she starts dating a wealthy cross, Nathan. Sonny reveals his love for her at the end of the book and proposes, but Sephy turns him down. Nathan also proposes, Sephy accepts, and they plan to marry.
- Callum McGregor: A nought who is best friends and later lovers with Sephy. He is the brother of Lynette, who has a mental illness and eventually commits suicide, but only he knows that it was not an accident because of a letter that she left him. He is one of the few noughts to get into Sephy's elite school, proving his intelligence, but he suffers discrimination against him. After losing contact with Sephy, he works for the LM and helps them kidnap her. He, however, gets his old feelings back and ends up sleeping with her and then letting her escape. Callum is the father of Sephy's child, but he is hanged for his involvement in Sephy's kidnap before Callie Rose is born.
- Jude McGregor: Callum's older brother, who holds a grudge against Sephy, who he believes to be responsible for his brother's death. He hates all crosses but becomes romantically inclined towards a cross, Cara, to use her for her money. Despite his best efforts, he starts to have genuine feelings for Cara, but the resultant confusion and his conflicting emotions ultimately prove too much. He ends up beating her to death and taking all her money. He later attempts to use Callie Rose to get back at Sephy, by training her to be a terrorist, but his plan backfires when Jasmine takes the bomb and activates it in his hotel room. Before he is killed in the bomb blast, he finally admits his feelings for Cara to himself, as she is the last thing he sees before he is killed.
- Callie Rose McGregor: the daughter of Callum and Sephy. Her father died before she was born. She resents her mother for keeping her father's identity a secret from her whole life, and she joins the LM after being manipulated by her uncle, Jude. She intended to blow herself and Kamal up, but Jasmine manipulates the situation by stealing the bomb and locking her in the cellar with Sephy in a successful plan them to make up. She enters a relationship with Tobey, her nought friend, mirroring the unlikely relationship between her parents. Both she and Tobey go on to study law at university.
- Tobias Durbridge: Nicknamed Tobey, Callie Rose's friend often teases her, getting her into deeper trouble than he anticipated. He then gets involved with a dangerous gang but turns against it after Callie Rose is shot by one of the members, putting her in a coma. He manages to kill the leader, Alex McAuley, and then bring the whole gang down in retaliation. Tobey and Callie Rose become a couple and both go on to study law at university.
- Jasmine Dharma Ninah Adyebe-Hadley: Sephy and Minerva's mother, who became an alcoholic. She used to be good friends with Ryan and Meggie McGregor, as Meggie used to work for her. She is diagnosed with breast cancer and, drinking less than before, commits suicide by activating a bomb, killing Jude in the process to protect Sephy and Callie Rose.
- Kamal Hadley: A powerful, avaricious cross politician who will do anything to gain more power and influence. He is the father of Sephy and Minerva and the grandfather of Callie Rose, but he disowns Sephy and Callie Rose. He divorces Jasmine after an unhappy marriage and remarries. A letter sent by Jasmine sent to the media ends his power.
- Minerva "Minnie" Hadley: Sephy's older sister, whom Sephy often calls "Minnie" to annoy her. She and Sephy are not very close, as Minnie is often shown to be quite selfish. She marries an affluent cross, Zuri, and they have a son, Taj.
- Lynette McGregor: Callum's older sister, who has a mental disorder after an attack she received from a group of noughts for dating a cross. She believes that she is a cross like her ex-boyfriend. She has lost touch with reality. She eventually commits suicide by stepping out in front of a bus, but only Callum knows that it was not an accident.
- Ryan McGregor: Callum's father, who is killed trying to escape from prison after the Dundale bombing.
- Meggie McGregor: Callum's mother, who had been Sephy's nurse until Jasmine fired her. She convinces Sephy to move in with her and is very close to Callie Rose. However, a threat to call social services about Callie Rose estranges Sephy from her. Throughout the series, her husband dies in trying to escaping from prison, her daughter commits suicide because of mental illness, her younger son is publicly hanged and her older son is blown up in a suicide attempt by her former friend.
- Lucas Cheshie: Callie's ex-boyfriend, a cross. His sister used to be a friend of Callie Rose. Also, he has a racist father.
- Rebecca Dowd: Vanessa Dowd's daughter. She is a rich cross who makes her money from drugs, illegal shipments and more. She briefly dates Tobey after falling in love with him but is killed by Alex McCauley, the Dowd family's archenemy. She is very lonely and Tobey loves her, unlike other boys, for reasons other than her family and her money. However, Tobey remains in love with Callie Rose.
- Dowd family: A powerful cross family owning half of the city and the enemy of Alex McCauley's gang.
- Dan: Tobey's friend, who uses Tobey's desperate financial situation to introduce him to gang life.
- Cara Imega: A kind-hearted cross who falls in love with Jude. She campaigns against the discrimination towards noughts. Although Jude wants to take her money, he eventually falls in love with her as well. He becomes so confused about his feelings that he follows through with his original plan. He beats her to death and robs all her money. Just before Jasmine detonates the bomb against Jude, the only person he thinks of and sees is Cara, with her hand outstretched.
- Sonny: A member of Sephy's band. Starts to go out with Sephy, but Sephy decides to end their relationship. They have feelings for each other.
- Nathan: The owner of a restaurant in which Sephy starts to sing. They realise that they have feelings for each other and plan to get married.
- Perry Hadley
- Jack Lubanjah
- Byron Sweet
- Ella Cheshie
- Mrs Paxton
- Resnick family
- Sarah Pike
- Jake Lee
Abridged audio books have been made from all of the series except Callum and An Eye For an Eye. As the character narrating the story changes with each chapter, each narrator is played by a different actor. Sephy is played by Nina Sosanya, Callum by Nigel Greaves, Jude by John Hasler, Meggie by Joan Walker, Callie Rose by Nicole Davis, Jasmine by Adjoa Andoh and Tobey by Nigel Pilkington. The additional parts of the story were read by the author in the first book and by Joan Walker in the three other books.
The first book, Noughts & Crosses, was retitled Black & White and was adapted and directed for the Royal Shakespeare Company by former RSC Associate Dominic Cooke, with Richard Madden and Ony Uhiara in the lead roles of Callum and Sephy. The play garnered positive reviews, with Blackman herself saying that she "knew it was in really safe hands". It toured the UK from February to April 2008.
The first book was also the subject of the last edition in February 2012 of BBC Radio 4's "Saturday Drama".
In August 2016, the BBC announced that Noughts & Crosses would be dramatised for television.
Awards and nominations
- 2002, Lancashire Children's Book of the Year.
- 2002, Red House Children's Book Award.
- 2002, Sheffield Children's Book Award.
- 2003, Wirral Paperback of the Year Award.
- 2004, Fantastic Fiction Award.
- 2005, Berkshire Book Award (shortlist).
- 2005, Lancashire Children's Book of the Year (shortlist).
- 2005, Redbridge Teenage book Award (shortlist).
- 2006, Lancashire Children's Book of the Year (shortlist).
- 2006, Staffordshire Young People's Book of the Year.
- Blackman, Malorie & Dominic Cooke. Noughts and Crosses (Royal Shakespeare Company) Nick Hern Books, London, 2007.
- Malorie Blackman Interview: Double Cross on Scottish Book Trust
- "BBC1 to dramatise Malorie Blackman's young adult novel Noughts and Crosses". Retrieved 2016-08-24.
- "Malorie Blackman". Contemporary Writers. British Council. 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-04-11. Retrieved 2007-03-23.
- "Awards and Prizes". Kids at Random House. Random House Children's Books. Retrieved 2007-03-23.
- Noughts & Crosses at Malorie Blackman's official website
- Knife Edge at Malorie Blackman's official website
- Checkmate at Malorie Blackman's official website
- Double Cross at Malorie Blackman's official website
- Malorie Blackman's plot description of Noughts & Crosses at meettheauthor.com