‘This world is full of sheeple, not people, all longing to be told what to do, how to think.’
Crossfire is Malorie Blackman’s new book set in the dystopian world of Noughts and Crosses (a series soon to be adapted by the BBC). A fictional version of 21st-century Britain in which society is organized to keep crosses (dark-skinned people) in control of noughts (lighter-skinned people), but which is now grappling with the abolishment of slavery and their own systems of segregation.
This fifth instalment in the series was something Blackman had not intended to write. But the UK Brexit referendum and the US presidential election in 2016 intervened, and, as she states in her foreword, ‘brought home to me just how potent the politics of fear and division can be’. It is politics that she shines a light on in this book through the eyes of her four main characters: Libby, an ambitious nought teenager in a race for student president; Troy (a cross) and Libby’s arch rival at school; Tobey Durbridge, a man on the cusp of becoming the first nought prime minister and Callie-Rose, a high-flying lawyer.
All four lives are interconnected in ways some of them don’t yet realise. Both teens (Libby and Troy) at the start of the book have been violently abducted and need to try and figure out why. This is a story that ratchets up the tension levels with every page and reveal. A narrative that will engross any YA reader right up to its cliff-hanger ending.