14th November 2019 victoria 0Comment

So this book is the fifth of the Noughts & Crosses series by the incredible story-teller and writer Malorie Blackman OBE, affectionately known as ‘Auntie’ Malorie – I truly feel like I know her. Haha – I wish!

Many moons ago, as a young teen, I first picked up Noughts & Crosses in the LRC on Elizabeth Garrett Anderson school. What drew me to it? I don’t quite remember… Perhaps it was the title in itself; makes me think of the game you play with your friends in class on the sly while the teacher is teaching a class. Or maybe it was the cover design, simple but effective. A white nought against a black background taking up half of the front cover, and the other half of the front cover, occupied by a black cross against a white background. The significance of this simple art was illuminated when I read the blurb. Imagine a world where the ‘Blacks’ are the default and superior race while the ‘Whites’ are foreigners, others and a perpetual underclass. And the protagonist is a black girl, like me!? I was sold.

The Noughts & Crosses series is a significant part of my growing up. I can’t talk about my love for books and stories without mentioning Sephy and Callum, Calley-Rose and Tobey, and now Troy and Libby. Their growing up and their trials and tribulations, how they navigated their worlds because of, and in spite of their differences, together and alone. Their experiences at school and at home and in the wider society and even the experiences of individuals in their families, all explored through the themes of race and class.

I had been a tad nervous – albeit excited – about reading yet another addition to the story in Crossfire but Auntie absolutely blew it out of the water!! I remember when it was announced that there would be a fourth book, Double Cross. At the time, I was pretty content with what I thought was a very nice trilogy: Noughts & Crosses, Knife Edge and Checkmate. But I embraced book four all the same and as with Crossfire, I was not disappointed. And now, I’ve happily accepted that this series is to be continued…

Crossfire is a brilliant story and incredibly timely with the social and political climate of the current times in our world today. Blackman faces issues head on, with unapologetic and fearless courage. She forces us to face hard and uncomfortable problems like immigration, Brexit, and police brutality thought the dystopia that she has created; causing us to truly think and get that conversation going.

Book five and 34 years since we met the pioneers of this saga, Sephy and Callum, and Auntie Malorie shows us how brilliant of an author she is in that she’s able to carry the story for an audience of teens – as originally targeted – and a community of near 30 year olds who have followed the story since book one was published in 2001. What a talent!

Crossfire is full of action from page one right through to the end. It’s as though it’s been waiting impatiently to be unleashed since the last book in the series, Double Cross, was published eleven years ago. And it’s letting us know that it’s arrived alright! The story takes crazy twists and turns sucking you right in. I don’t think I’ve read a book faster this year.

I feel like I’ve been waiting forever for some sort of on-screen/theatre adaptation of the story and though there have been many rumours over the years, I couldn’t be happier that it has been confirmed that BBC will be dramatising the story for television, endorsed by Stormzy and Jay Z.

But until then, I urge you dear brethren to READ THIS BOOK. In fact, read the entire series. My rating is a 5/5.

P. s. Auntie Malorie, please don’t make us wait 11 years for the next book! Pretty please. Thank youuu in advance

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