Noughts and Crosses
London, Doubleday, 2001, 445p
Noughts and Crosses was one of the most talked about books of my teenage years, and somehow it managed to pass me by - I hadn't gotten around to reading it until now.
And, if I am honest, I was a little disappointed. It really did not meet my expectations. I had heard and read so many great reviews, complimenting Blackman's engagement with discrimination and her alternative approach to race; but I thought the novel would be more political and challenging.
I am sure it does not need to be said, but Noughts and Crosses is about a society in which black people rule over and oppress whites. White people are not slaves any more, but they suffer stereotypes and segregation they do not have the same rights to education; and consequently, the Liberation Militia exist in order to protest for white equality. Callum is a nought, a white boy who is ambitious in the face of racism; and Sephy is a Cross, a black girl who also happens to be the daughter of an incredibly powerful man. Of course, their friendship is not acceptable.
I was hoping for something that would make me think - a novel that would make me evaluate myself and the society around me. I was hoping for something that would stay with me for a long time, perhaps would even haunt me for several years.
Unfortunately, I found myself faced with a modern day Romeo and Juliet. The characters were too preoccupied with their teenage angst. I have to wonder if I was a few years younger if I would appreciate the youth of the characters - perhaps I would better be able to relate to their teenage dramas. But I found myself frustrated with the fact the novel centred so significantly around Sephy and Callum, when I wanted to know more about the political aspects of this fictional society.
Also, I really don't like Romeo and Juliet. Why didn't they just talk it over, instead of suffering from miscommunication. And why kill yourself? There is always someone else out there!
I was expecting political drama and I got romance. And not even the format of romance that I like. I had hoped for so much more!