Sunday, 25 August 2013

Possibly the most depressing book ever written.

OK, it's a very good book.  It's a very good book for teens because it combines a syrupy love-story-against-the-odds with a heavy (but well-disguised) dose of LOOK AT THE STATE OF THE WORLD WE LIVE IN, TEENS!  Kind of like Twilight with an actual point.

I was concerned that the only book I'd read by the new Children's Laureate was Pig-Heart Boy. And then even more concerned when I realised I hadn't actually read the book at all, but watched the series on the BBC, which is not really the same, is it?  So I decided to read Noughts and Crosses, which seems to be her best known novel.

Oh my goodness, how horribly depressing it is.  There are no easy answers to the uncomfortable questions it poses about racial discrimination and cultural hegemony.  Probably because there are actually no easy answers.  This does leave the reader with a bit of a sense of futility at the end, however. 

The book is set in an alternate world, where the continents have not separated and in the part of the world where the story is set, black people have power, control and, often, an utter disregard for the humanity of white people.  It follows the story of Sephy (a Cross (black person), whose father is high up in the country's government) and Callum,  a Nought (white) whose mother is employed as a nanny/home help in Sephy's home.  Sephy and Callum are close, but there are obviously many and varied obstacles in their path.  It doesn't end well.

The book is the first in a series.  I am stealing myself before reading the others...

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