Double Cross, a review

Double Cross by Malorie Blackman, the fourth book in the Noughts and Crosses series, was a reread for me. I first read these books around when they came out (this book in 2008 – I was 12) borrowing them from the library, and when I bought myself my own copies as an adult I knew I wanted to reread them.

This was a damn difficult book to get through. It was rough. I actually DNF’d it for a while in 2021 because I really just wasn’t in the right headspace for this, and this series is heavy. Eventually I did push through in March and finally finish up this reread. Interestingly, the ending wasn’t as heartbreaking as I’d come to expect from the first three books in the series, but DAMN did I need that!

If it wasn’t already obvious, this book has some HEAVY trigger warnings. Highlight here if you want to see them: death, drug abuse, drug use, gun violence, racism, murder, cancer, terminal illness. This series is all about the reversal of racism, where Black people have power and white people are the minority. It’s based in the UK, as Blackman is a British author, but it does have influence from the US in terms of the corporal punishment being used there more recently against Black people compared to in the UK. And it is set as a contemporary read, at least within the time it was published in ’08. It’s still incredibly relevant to today though, much to my chagrin.

I will say that I didn’t find this book to be quite as enjoyable as the first three books. It was still incredibly hard hitting, and tough to read, but it doesn’t seem to add to the original three books. The story arc felt quite complete within those, and this definitely feels more like an extended 3.5 where we learn more about the lives these people are living.

If you’d like to see my reviews for my rereads of Noughts & Crosses, Knife Edge, or Checkmate, click on their names to read!

It’s not a bad book, don’t get me wrong, just lest connected to the previous works. It follows a completely new POV (there are multiple POVs in the whole series) from a mostly background character from the previous book. The original series was intended as a trilogy and unfortunately it does kinda show in this one. BUT at the same time? Still an incredible story with an incredible message.

On CAWPILE I rated this one: Characters: 6, Atmosphere: 6, Writing: 9, Plot: 6, Intrigue: 7, Logic: 9, and Enjoyment: 4, which gives an average score of 6.71 and a 3.5* rating.

I’m still debating whether I’m going to be picking up the newly released book(s) at any point. I think I’ll be more invested in them as they stick (at least as far as I can tell from the synopsis) to the character set that we’ve already been introduced to. But at the same time I’m always wary of series that are picked back up again after a long hiatus. We’ll have to see.

Have you read any of the books from this series? What do you think of it? Let me know!

Highlight here for the trigger warnings: death, drug abuse, drug use, gun violence, racism, murder, cancer, terminal illness [end].

Checkmate, a review

Checkmate by Malorie Blackman is the third book in the Noughts & Crosses series. After book 2 (Knife Edge) I thought that this series was going to be a little less painful to read than I’d remembered. I was wrong.

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Of course I don’t want to spoil anything here for those who haven’t read the first book, but with such a big time jump from book 1 to book 2 that’s really hard! What I can tell you is that there is immense character development here from every single character we’ve met so far, and also within the book itself with the newer characters. It’s done so beautifully, and this is what ended up making me weep.

I was still living with my parents when I read this, and as I reached the end of this book I had to leave the living room and go finish up in my bedroom so that my dad wouldn’t see me cry! I ended up ugly sobbing, the tears streaming down my face. That’s what this series does to me, and that’s why I’ve been putting off reading it for so long! I love it, but it hurts.

For my CAWPILE ratings I gave this book: Characters: 9, Atmosphere: 10, Writing: 9, Plot: 9, Intrigue: 9, Logic: 10, and Enjoyment: 9, which gives this book an overall rating of 9.29 which to no ones surprise is a damn solid 5 star read.

I am so scared to read book 4 in this series, let alone if I decide to pick up the more recently published book 5! Double Cross (book 4) is actually on my tbr this month (Feb 22) so with me luck! I’m sure to cry again at this one.

Knife Edge, a review

The Noughts & Crosses series is one from my childhood that I’ve decided to reread. I read book one late last year, and finally continued on with Knife Edge this year.


This one didn’t break my heart quite as much as book one, which was a nice break! But don’t get me wrong it’s still not an easy read.

This series is in a world where white people are inferior, and in book one we follow Sephy and Callum, a Black girl and a white boy, who despite the world being against them are in love. That book tore my little heart right out of my chest. I was expecting the same from book two.

This book didn’t go quite so far, but I still very much… enjoyed(?) it. Is that the right word?? You know what I mean.

In this book we switch to a new perspective, right from the beginning, as well as continuing with a perspective we’d been following throughout book one. This new perspective offered a lot of insight into the harsh reality of life and how circumstances can drive people to commit certain acts. Whilst I don’t like this character, I really appreciate all of the development that Blackman does of them and how this adds so many layers. It really makes you realise the humanity in all of the acts they carry out. Even if you don’t agree with them.

I have pretty strong feelings about these books. I’ve heard people say they aren’t for kids. I’ve heard people say they’re unrealistically violent. But they are for children (older kids mind you, trigger warnings are rife in these) and the aren’t unrealistically violent. This is supposed to be a reversal of racism towards Black people and it really highlights this for a mainly white British population with the whites treated as inferior. It shows what their friends and colleagues are going through and I think Blackman should be commended not only for how well she portrays this, but also with how well her books have stood the test of time. Although I’m sure she would’ve rather had them seem radically out of date. And so would I.

For my CAWPILE rating for this book I gave:

Characters: 8

Atmosphere: 10

Writing: 9

Plot: 8

Intrigue: 9

Logic: 10

Enjoyment: 8

Which gives me an overall 8.86 rating which is a nice solid 4 star rating. I’m surprised that it didn’t get 5 stars but CAWPILE is a really tough system!

Highlight here for trigger warnings: violence, suicide, self-harm, depression, sexual references, racism, domestic abuse, hate crimes, mention of rape, abuse, infantile death suggested

These books are fantastic. They’ll rip your heart out of your chest and shove it down your throat, whilst you have tears pouring down your face and a million thoughts whirring through your head. They. Are. Amazing. Please do pick them up if you haven’t already. And if you have, tell me what you think about them in the comments!!