Why Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses is a story everyone must know

Noughts and Crosses is ultimately a book about love. It showcases love in every form.

‘Life is meaningless only if we allow it to be. Each of us has the power to give life meaning, to make out time and our bodies and our words into instruments of love and hope.’


Sephy is a Cross – a member of the dark-skinned ruling class. Callum is a nought – a ‘colourless’ member of the underclass who were once slaves to the Crosses.

The story of Callum and Sephy charters their relationship as they grow up. Both making some poor choices all the while continuing to do nothing but love each other, despite constant societal pressure and prejudice against their relationship.

The two have been friends since early childhood. But that’s as far as it can go. Until the first steps are taken towards more social equality and a limited number of Noughts are allowed into Cross schools… Against a background of prejudice and distrust, intensely highlighted by violent terrorist activity by Noughts, a romance builds between Sephy and Callum – a romance that is to lead both of them into terrible danger.

It tells such an important story, one that is still very relevant for today’s more modern society. One of the things that make the book such a good read is it’s told from both Callum and Sephy’s point of view, so we get a well rounded picture of what their lives are like.

The ending of the book is without spoiling it, absolutely heartbreaking. As throughout the book, you get to know the characters, and you become attached and care for them and their relationship, it’s a mark of how strong Malorie Blackman’s skill at crafting characters is. The ending of the book is necessary. It fits in with the choices both Callum and Sephy makes within the story. Blackman’s ending could be seen as controversial but we feel if she had ended it any other way she would have done a complete disservice to the story and the characters we as the readers come to love.

Noughts and Crosses was first published in 2001. It was No. 61 on the Big Read list, a 2003 BBC survey to find “The Nation’s Best-Loved Book”, with more votes than A Tale of Two Cities, several Terry Pratchett novels and Lord of the Flies.

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In 2003 An Eye for an Eye was released for world book day, with limited copies published. It featured characters from the Noughts and Crosses novel. After these, three other books ( Knife Edge[2004], Checkmate[2005], Double Cross[2008] quickly followed which continued the story of Sephy, Callum and their families.

In 2012 Callum was released, again another short story for world book day. It told some of the original story, with a slight twist.

Callum: A Noughts and Crosses Short Story by [Blackman, Malorie]

To the delight of Noughts and Crosses fans a graphic novel was released in 2015.

It has also been announced that later this year, 18 years after the first book was published, book 5 in the Noughts and Crosses series, Crossfire will be released. It will be set 34 years after the first book.


Noughts and Crosses has also been turned in to a play which has been touring the UK this year ( more info here.) It has previously been turned in to a drama for radio, airing on BBC Radio 4, back in 2012.

Image result for noughts and crosses series original covers
Image result for noughts and crosses series original covers

It has also been commissioned as TV series to air on the BBC and is currently filming in South Africa and will be on our screens later this year.
The six-part series is written by Toby Whithouse (Being Human), Lydia Adetunji (Riviera), Nathaniel Price (Tin Star) and Rachel De-Lahay (Kiri).

Bafta Cymru winner Jack Rowan (Peaky Blinders, Born to Kill) will play Callum McGregor and newcomer Masali Baduza has been cast as Sephy Hadley.

Paterson Joseph (Timeless, Peep Show) plays Sephy’s father, the Home Secretary Kamal Hadley, Bonnie Mbuli (Invictus, Wallander) plays her mother Jasmine and her sister Minerva is played by Kike Brimah (Love Type D).

Helen Baxendale (Cold Feet, Cuckoo) and Ian Hart (The Last Kingdom, The Secret Agent) play Callum’s parents Meggie and Ryan and Josh Dylan (Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, The Little Stranger) will play his older brother Jude.

Shaun Dingwall (Goodbye Christopher Robin, The Long Firm) plays Liberation Militia leader Dorn. The cast also features Jonathan Ajayi and Rakie Ayola (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, No Offence). Rapper Stormzy, who is a long time fan of the book series will play newspaper editor Kolawale, a character created for the TV series.

Masli Baduza and Jack Rowan in Noughts & Crosses (BBC)

Noughts and Crosses was released nearly twenty years ago, the themes and challenges faced within the story are ones which our society today continues to tackle and face, it’s why it is such an important and enduring story.


No matter what medium you use to discover Noughts and Crosses as a story, it is one that will never leave you!

Let us know @Fuzzable if you have read Noughts and Crosses.



Written by Kelly McFarland

Likes to post in monochrome on Instagram.
Twitter: @kellymcf6
Instagram: @kellymcf6
Contact: kellymcfarland89@gmail.com

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