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Thursday, 21 March 2013

*** Review*** Checkmate (Noughts and Crosses #3) by Malorie Blackman

Can the future ever erase the past? Rose has a Cross mother and a nought father in a society where the pale-skinned noughts are treated as inferiors and those with dual heritage face a life-long battle against deep-rooted prejudices. Sephy, her mother, has told Rose virtually nothing about her father, but as Rose grows into a young adult, she unexpectedly discovers the truth about her parentage and becomes determined to find out more. But her father's family has a complicated history - one tied up with the fight for equality for the nought population. And as Rose takes her first steps away from Sephy and into this world, she finds herself drawn inexorably into more and more danger. Suddenly it's a game of very high stakes that can only have one winner . . .

I’m choosing this because:

As you all know, it’s Malorie Blackman Month with Amy Bookworm so this is my latest book in my quest to read Malorie’s work. I’m not sure how I feel heading into this because while I adored book 1 the follow up had me feeling unhappy with the story development. I’ve decided to give it a chance though. I can only hope that ‘Knife Edge’ was a blip and that this is much better. It better be at over 500 pages!

Judging a book by its cover:

Well ‘Checkmate’ follows the black and white design of the previous 2 books but I don’t find the chessboard design as striking. Whilst the other two were just as minimalistic at least they had a focus point, this lacks that in my opinion.
Pricing the (possible) awesomeness:

On Amazon the paperback is currently £5.24 and the Kindle edition is a slightly cheaper £4.74. Reasonable but not the cheapest I’ve ever seen a book on there.

I’m actually not sure how I feel about this book if I’m completely honest. I loved the idea of the story being split between past and present with the tenses converging for the finale. I loved the showdowns between Jasmine and Jude & Sephy and Callie Rose. I can't help but feel that some of the initial background wasn’t needed. Some of Callie Rose’s younger years weren’t really connected to the overall arc of the story. The story was a slow burner, taking more than half of the book to get into its stride. I did enjoy the writing though, Malorie Blackman is a mistress of her craft and she paints pictures with words but instead of being all flowery and fat naked ladies, they’re gritty and opinionated and they speak of the injustices of certain types of people. (White people being ruled by black people in the case of this series.) Let me make it clear that I have the utmost respect for what Ms Blackman does, it’s just that I didn’t connect with this book.

Callie Rose – Well this is the first time we’ve had the pleasure of Callie Rose’s POV and I have to say she’s not had the best upbringing. From the main body of the story (which is in the past) we see how she’s raised and the effects of that. I didn’t particularly like her, I sympathise with her upbringing but instead of allowing it to make her a stronger, better person she got swept away by Jude’s lies. I feel that she was beginning to become filled with the hatred that consumed her Uncle and for that reason I find it hard to like her. We all know how I feel about Jude.

Sephy – Can someone please explain to me where the Sephy from ‘Noughts and Crosses’ went? It’s just that the Sephy we have here is a sliver of what she once was. I feel that she shrivelled up inside after Callum died and didn’t want to find herself again. Now that’s fine, I mean if you wanna be like that but it’s not fun to read. I want characters that are bright and fill the page and refuse to be beaten down by circumstance.

Jasmine – Sephy and Minerva’s mother. She’s been on the sidelines for the past couple of books but with this one she gets a story, she’s the complete opposite of how she’s been construed and that’s a good thing. Time has changed her for the better and now she’s less about the appearance of perfection and more about repairing the damage that caused. I like that she wasn’t ashamed to admit that she’d done wrong and that she was forever trying to make up for that.

Overall this is a decent ending to the original trilogy (Why add a book four? Seriously though? I hate when authors do that!) but I feel that ‘Noughts and Crosses’ was actually an incredibly strong stand alone novel. However back to ‘Checkmate’  I found a couple of the twists predictable and the showdowns for me were obvious from the get go. I like Malorie Blackman’s writing and how she manages to make people think about important issues such as racism. The series is thought provoking and manages to capture the consequences of these issues with an elegance that I just know I’d lack, credit where it’s due. The premise is exemplary. The characters encourage you to feel strongly towards them.


This is a really good book, I just didn’t enjoy it as much as I would’ve liked to which is why it’s got a three. I’d recommend it to people who like slow burning plots that manage to reach an incredible conclusion. 

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