Naughts and Crosses

Naughts and Crosses

by Malorie Blackman


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Callum is a naught, a second-class citizen in a society run by the ruling Crosses. Sephy is a Cross, and daughter of the man slated to become prime minister. In their world, white naughts and black Crosses simply don't mix — and they certainly don't fall in love. But that's exactly what they've done.
When they were younger, they played together. Now Callum and Sephy meet in secret and make excuses. But excuses no longer cut it when Sephy and her mother are nearly caught in a terrorist bombing planned by the Liberation Militia, with which Callum's family is linked. Callum's father is the prime suspect...and Sephy's father will stop at nothing to see him hanged. The blood hunt that ensues will threaten not only Callum and Sephy's love for each other, but their very lives.
In this shocking thriller, UK sensation Malorie Blackman turns the world inside out. What's white is black, what's black is white, and only one thing is clear: Assumptions can be deadly.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781416900160
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date: 05/31/2005
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 380,646
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.20(d)
Lexile: 630L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Malorie Blackman pursued computer science before becoming a full-time writer. She gained phenomenal success with her first book, Hacker, which won two major UK children's awards, and has gone on to write a number of other award-winning children's books. An avid reader, musician, cineaste, and Net surfer in her spare time, Malorie lives in South London with her husband and their daughter, Elizabeth.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter Forty Eight

Lunch was over, without too much grief — for once. Jude had come home from heaven only knew where so we'd all eaten together — which made a change. Mum indulged in small talk, telling us all about what our neighbors and relatives and friends were up to, while Jude was his usual effervescent, scintillating self and didn't say one word. No one was particularly bothered that I didn't have much to say either. Before I'd swallowed my last mouthful, my knife and fork clattered onto my plate and I jumped up. Grabbing my jacket off the back of the sofa, I headed for the door.

"Where're you going?" Mum asked with a smile.

"The shopping center."

Jude leapt up like a scalded cat. "Oh, no you're not."

I frowned at him. "I'll go where I ruddy like. Since when is it any of your business where I go?"

"Callum, you don't want to go there. Not today," Jude said, nervously.

"Jude?" Mum stood up slowly.

A tense, watchful atmosphere entered the room like chilling fog.

"Why shouldn't I go?" I asked my brother.

He didn't answer.

"What's going on?" I persisted.

I turned to Mum. She was staring at Jude, a stunned look on her face. From her expression, she was obviously well ahead of me.

"Don't go there, Callum," Jude told me, pointedly.

"But..." And only then did it click.

The Liberation Militia were planning something at the Dundale. Something Jude knew about. Something my brother didn't want me anywhere near. And then I remembered.

"Sephy's at the shopping center," I said, horror-stricken.

"Callum...," Jude began.

I didn't wait to hear any more. I ran out of the house, leaving the front door wide open as I raced for the shopping center.

Copyright © 2001 by Oneta Malorie Blackman

Chapter Forty Nine: Sephy

Mother was driving me nuts! In our five long, long hours together, I'd bitten my tongue so many times it'd swollen up to the size of a football and was choking me. If she asked me for my opinion on one more pair of shoes, I couldn't be held responsible for my actions. I sipped my orange juice, grateful for the short but welcome break away from her. She'd gone back to the car park to pack away her various purchases. She was enjoying herself. I'm glad one of us was!

"Sephy! Thank God! You have to get out of here."

"Callum!" I beamed. "Where did you spring from?"

"Never mind that. You've got to leave this place now."

"But I haven't finished my drink..."

"Never mind your ruddy drink. You have to leave — now!"

I looked at Callum then, really looked at him. He was scared. No...he was terrified.

"What's going on?"

"Don't argue. Out!" Callum told me grimly. "Come on."

Callum dragged me out of my seat and toward the café door.

"Excuse me, love, but is this boy troubling you?" a stranger asked as I was dragged past his table.

"No! No, he's a friend of mine," I called back. "He wants to show me something..."

Callum dragged me out of the café and along the concourse and then every alarm in the world went off, at least that's what it sounded like.

"What's going on?" I asked, looking around.

"Move it. Come on."

And we were running toward the nearest exit. Others around us were looking around and frowning, wondering what was going on. Maybe they saw Callum and me racing for the nearest exit, maybe we started it. I don't know. But it seemed like moments later, everyone was shouting and racing for the exits. We were among the first ones out of the Dundale. We stumbled out into the spring sunshine and still Callum had hold of my hand and was pulling me after him.

"Where're we going?" I asked breathlessly.

"Run. Come on," Callum puffed from beside me. "I thought I'd never find you. It took me almost half an hour to find you. Move."

"Callum, I'm getting a stitch," I protested.

"Tough. We've got to keep going."

"Callum, enough!" I pulled my hand out of his. "You're — "

Then there was a flash like the very air was alight, followed a fraction of a second later by the most colossal boom. I was blown off my feet and into the air like a dry leaf in a high wind. And even from where we were, I could feel an intense heat on my back. I landed flat on my face, my arms outstretched. There was a strange ringing sound in my ears and it wouldn't stop. For I don't know how long, I lay in a daze. Was I dead? Was this what it felt like to die? I closed my eyes tight and covered my ears, trying to block out the incessant ringing sound — only it was inside my head, not outside. I swallowed hard and my ears popped, and the ringing stopped. Twisting around, I turned to see what on earth had happened. Billowing smoke shot out of the shopping center. For a moment it was eerily quiet, like the end of the world. I wondered, panic-stricken, if the explosion had deafened me. And then I heard screaming and sirens and all hell was let loose.

I turned to Callum, who lay stunned beside me.

"Are you okay? You're not hurt?" Callum asked anxiously, running his hands up and down my back and arms.

"Y-you knew that was going to happen...," I realized, aghast. "You didn't...Tell me you didn't..." I shook my head. No, that was preposterous. Callum had nothing to do with whatever that explosion was. It must've been a bomb. But Callum didn't do that. He wouldn't. He couldn't.

But he knew.

"Mother! Oh my God!" I jumped to my feet and raced toward the car park across the street from the shopping center.

I was almost across the street when I remembered Callum. I turned around.

But he was gone.

Copyright © 2001 by Oneta Malorie Blackman

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Naughts and Crosses 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 40 reviews.
Deby_Fray More than 1 year ago
I have to start by being honest, it took me a lot to recover myself from this particular book, was such a tremendous emotional drain like you couldn´t imagine. For my was the most incredible experience i have lived with a book in a long time, cuz i usually read these fantasy books (that actually affect me a lot but...)where i can distinguish clearly it´s fiction and that´s all, but in this case, with this book, for God sakes i felt completely involved, i could feel their pain, i could touch their injuries i wanna to make them feel better... i don´t know exactly how can i describe how much empathy i took about the two main characters, but i can asure you this, i would and i will recommended "Naughts and Crosses" to everyone, everyone i could....Love it for good, would keep it in my mind for ever and more, promise you that much...i swear that you wíll not get dissapointe, but you know you can always complain to me...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Look around, there is a reason all these reviewers ranked it so well and wrote awesome things about it. Malorie Blackman pulls you into an interesting plotline with carefully threaded events and characters that make you love this book. It will make you laugh, and it will make you cry, but most of all it makes you think, and you will never forget it!:)
avidrdrAZ More than 1 year ago
This is an awesome book. It's very easy to read but covers a deep issue. It takes a pretty strong writer/storyteller to get me emotionally involved in a fictional story and Malorie Blackman does an excellent job of getting you in with her characters. The ending made me cry and it's the only book that has done so. Definitely worth reading at least once.
Katya0133 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Brutal" is the word for "Naughts & Crosses." Even if you see where the story is headed (or perhaps especially if you do), it's grueling to watch the characters move inexorably towards their respective fates.The story is set in a sort of alternate reality where dark-skinned people ("crosses") are the upper class and light-skinned people ("naughts") are the lower class. The naughts used to be the slaves of the crosses; now they're free, but their lives haven't improved much. And now the son of a naught and the daughter of a cross have dared to overturn social convention by falling in love.The premise sounds like it could be cheesy, but the author actually pulls it off pretty well, largely because she makes every main character at least a little sympathetic. So even though you don't agree with the naughts who have turned terrorist and the crosses who are pulling the strings to maintain the status quo, you at least understand their motivations.One of the advantages of a story like this where the history of race relations is turned on its head is that it allows the reader to examine the ways in which different races interact with a degree of impartiality, since this fictional world both is and isn't the same as our own.I came away from this book determined to be a better person, which is a bigger effect than most books have on me.
saltypepper on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Naughts & Crosses is interesting. it's similar to that movie with John Travolta and Sidney Poitier in which the history has flipped and whites are the oppressed and blacks are running the show. However, this is a YA novel, and it's written by a black woman which means, among other things, that the myriad little ways privilege plays out, especially unconciously, are well-represented and that the ending is not trite or Hollywood-ish. Overall, I had mixed feelings about it, especially when I heard that schools have started including it in their curricula, not just their libraries. IMO, it's hard to teach race relations well, especially if the teacher has not thoroughly examined her/his own baggage. Also, I suppose one could use this as an example when discussing whether racism/prejudice still exists in Great Britain/Europe since the author is British, even though the setting for the books is a fictional distopia. It's first in a series. I might check out the others.
xuesheng on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a powerful book! Sephy (Persephone) Hadley is a Cross, the black ruling class of the world, whose father is the home office minister in Great Britain. Callum McGregor is a naught, the white underclass and one time slaves of the Crosses. Callum and Sephy practically grow up together until Mrs. McGregor is fired after 14 years employment with the Hadleys. However, the best friends Callum and Sephy continue to meet and see each other.The story is told in alternating chapters by the two teens documenting their life and love. We follow them to Sephy's school where Collum is one of a handful of naughts accepted in to integrate the school under pressure from the rest of the world. After some dreadful incidents in their families, their lives split in different directions until they are forced together again under the worst of circumstances.The novel is disturbing. Neither teen has a happy family life and the pressures of the world around them prove too much. There are allusions to Northern Ireland's IRA (Liberation Militia, a naught paramilitary group,) South Africa's apartheid, and the US civil rights movement. However, it is a thought-provoking book with a well-told story, and I recommend it.1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up lists this in the 12+ age range, their oldest one. Because of the violence and some mild sexual references, I think it would be best at 14+.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
lifesizedbibliophil More than 1 year ago
Tragic yet amazing! I read this book at least 5 years ago and i have never gotten it out of my head...that is how powerfull it is..
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This would have been a five star except the second book isn't available in nook and there were so many typos in this one it was sad. I hate to be grammar police but they were bad, in once case a 7 was used in place of a letter.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When i first started reading this, i thought it was going to be boring, but i was wrong! I wish Sephy had chosen Callum at the end. I cried over the ending. Sephys dad is EVIL!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Racism. It's something in this world that people are brainwashed by others and sometimes themselves that it doesn't exist, it's an ancient evil, it is dead and gone, it'll never return. But it seems that everything is categorized into two categories: black and white, and it doesn't make sense that racism should be blurred over when it is such a huge part o the human past. Malorie Blackman's 'Naughts and Crosses' is a book that revisits the age-old and never dying issue of racism- is it learned? Is it birthed? Can it be over come? The answer to this last question is yes- as shown in the example of Callum, a young white boy, or 'nought', and Sephy, a black girl, or 'cross'. They have chemistry, they have love, and they have more obstacles to defeat more than any in their path. If they can defeat them, they can be together forever, but if not simple 'hatred' from their respective cultures is not the only consequence they'll have to worry about...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Ghost662 More than 1 year ago
This trilogy is in my top 5! I love it!
leah23 More than 1 year ago
This book was really good but in the end i was crying and i dont cry that often. Although the book is good i am mad that it has to be so sad, i mean who wants to read a book that makes to upset afterwards. I like to read books that make me feel good not bad. So with that said if you dont like sad books then dont read this one! But if for some strange reason to like to feel awful then have fun!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i had just decided to get this book out of the library as to just read something and i dint think it would be all that good. At first I had not realized wat the book was really about just that it had to do with to societies and their differences. as i started to read the book i came to realize that i could not put it down, and so started my journey into this book. I am relieved to know now that the story keeps on going and i cant wait for the next parts.
Mel83 More than 1 year ago
This book was captivating from the beginning to the end. Very well portrayed and very real in almost every sense of the word.
Though it would seem the racism involved would be offensive, I didn't find it to be that way at all! There were equal character traits that could be loved and hated from both sides, and the descriptions of how the naughts and crosses felt just seemed to be very believable.
I loved the development of the relationship with the two main characters and how the story didn't simply focus on them alone, but everyone around them as well. Their relationship was so dead on, nothing out of fairy tales or romance novels, but very realistic, and genuine.
By the end of this book, I was in tears, and I found myself thinking about it long after I sat it down. I feel like everyone should read this. It will undoubtedly leave you thinking.
Malorie Blackman has a gift for bringing out raw emotions, and I can't help but think she must be a very genuine, lovely person for writing such a beautiful story, albeit heart wrenching at times. I look forward to reading more of her work.
And now I'm off to go re-read my favorite parts...
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
In NAUGHTS & CROSSES, the author creates a very believable alternate world that is almost like our own--but the main difference is a major one. Everything you think you know about race relations and prejudice holds true, but is switched. The ruling class to which Sephy Hadley's family belongs are the black Crosses, named for their supposed closeness to God. The other, the white Naughts, like Callum and his family, are second-class citizens. In this world, it's unacceptable for a Naught and a Cross to be real friends, and unthinkable for them to fall in love. Callum and Sephy are breaking all the rules of the society they live in.

The two have known each other from a very young age, when Callum's mother worked in the Hadley household. Even after she loses her job, though, Sephy and Callum remain secretly close. They meet in secrecy, forced to tell lies and make up excuses, but they never stop seeing each other, no matter how difficult it is. Soon, though, they'll see each other every day--but that's not as good as it sounds. A new law has been passed, and a limited number of Naughts will now be allowed to attend Cross schools. Callum has been accepted into Sephy's school, and Sephy's excited to see her best friend more often. Callum, however, knows that letting their friendship be public could prove very dangerous for both of them. Things continue to get worse when Sephy and her mother are nearly caught in a terrorist bombing. Sephy's life is saved when Callum pulls her out of the building just in time, but nobody's fooled--that's no coincidence. Suspicion falls on Callum's family.

Callum's father is the prime suspect in planting the bomb, supposedly on the orders of a radical Naught terrorist group, the Liberation Militia, or L.M. They're devoted to their goals of rights for Naughts, and they'll go to any length to achieve them. This world even has a parallel to Martin Luther King, Jr.; Alex Luther is an activist whose goal is to achieve equality peacefully. Callum's mother is a supporter of his, but Callum's father and brother don't believe that Alex Luther's way of doing things will actually get anything done. The events that unfold after the bombing threaten not only Sephy and Callum's relationship, but their very lives and the lives of those around them.

NAUGHTS & CROSSES is a fantastic story, and one that will keep your mind occupied long past the final pages. The world created in Malorie Blackman's novel is one that is much like our own, and inspires a lot of "what if?" questions. What if that was our world? It's not so far off to imagine. How would our lives be different? They almost certainly would be. You wouldn't be where you are now. You wouldn't be who you are now; everything would be remarkably different, but still so much the same....

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Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a story of two friends, Callum and Sephy, who are from two different worlds of two different skin colors, whose innocent friendship turns into a forbidden love. This twist of a story is set in a world where people are discriminated for being....White. It is an eye opening reminder of the pety differences that seperate us from each other and how much those differences really matter when stood up against by LOVE. This story will keep you captivated, shocked, teary eyed, and on the edge at every page turn. This is a 'must read.' Warning: May cause controversy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
OMG! this book is definaltey a mdern Romeo and Juliet. After reading this story of deception, love, and all that, I decided i wanted my name to change from .... to Callum. It remind me of all the thing that were wrong with the world that still are. SEGREGATION being the top point on this book. I love this book, but it is big... Anyone who has the patience to read a long book, or read long, interesting books fast, READ THIS!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Great book, I read it in one night! So basiclly take Romeo and Juliet-throw out the crap, the four day flipent love and morbid ending. Add important issues and excelent writing that renders deep thought, true love, danger, scariface and there you go.