Select one of the keywords
Checkmate: Noughts & Crosses    by Malorie Blackman order for
by Malorie Blackman
Order:  USA  Can
Corgi, 2006 (2005)
Softcover, CD
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Checkmate follows Noughts & Crosses and Knife Edge as the conclusion to an exciting and thought-provoking series. Though I hadn't read the first two books (and recommend that others do before opening this one) I was still able to understand events and catch up with what had gone before.

The story is set in a society with deep-rooted racial prejudices. The dark-skinned Crosses at the top look down on pale-skinned Noughts as inferior. In the previous episodes, Persephone Hadley (a Cross) grew up close to Nought Callum McGregor, son of family servant Meggie. After his father was unjustly executed, Callum started to work for the Liberation Militia. But he rescued Sephy when they kidnapped her, and she became pregnant by him. Sephy was disowned by her powerful father when she refused to abort the baby.

Now we see that child (Callie Rose) grow up, living with Sephy and Meggie, and bumping into her society's prejudices towards a person of mixed race. Her closest friend is next door neighbor Tobey, a Nought whose tall tales often get her into trouble. Later, in the private school her Cross grandmother Jasmine pays for, Callie Rose becomes close to Lucas, a Cross who sees beyond her color and admires her. But the past still haunts this small family, especially since Sephy has kept many secrets from her daughter, something she comes to deeply regret.

Callum's callous brother Jude now leads the Liberation Militia and is full of hatred for all Crosses, but especially for the Hadleys. He secretly contacts his niece. As Iago did to Othello, Jude poisons Callie's relationship with her mother with lies and grooms her for a horrific role. Fortunately, the grandmothers (only frail on the outside) take extraordinary action in a remarkable conclusion. Don't miss this brilliant trilogy that looks at the damage done to society by racial prejudice, but also at the hurt people cause to themselves and those close to them by espousing violence and hate.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Teens books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews