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Literature: Noughts & Crosses

Noughts & Crosses series is set in a world where the people with dark skin (Crosses) are dominant over the white people (noughts), written by Malorie Blackman. The title is a reference to the game Noughts and Crosses (tic-tac-toe).

This series consists of:

  • Noughts & Crosses
  • An Eye For an Eye
  • Knife Edge
  • Checkmate
  • Double Cross


This series provides examples of:

  • Alpha Bitch:
    • Bliss, one of Callie Rose's classmates. To the point where she calls Callie's hair "Blanker hair."
    • Averted with Cara Imega, who cares for Jude regardless of race until she is killed off by Jude.
  • Alternate History: The reason why there is so much prejudice against noughts is because they were enslaved by people from Africa, rather than the other way round.
  • Anyone Can Die: Lynette, Ryan and Callum himself in the first book. Jasmine and Jude in Checkmate.
  • Beta Couple: Cara Imega/Jude, and Tobey and Callie Rose.
  • Bitter Sweet Ending: Checkmate. Jasmine kills Jude, preventing him from harming Sephy or Callie anymore but dies as a result and Meggie loses her last child. Sephy and Callie reconcile and realize Callum loved both of them all along, but will never really get over his death.
  • Black Gal on White Guy Drama: Sephy and Callum, but due to the alternate universe Persecution Flip, he's viewed as her inferior rather than vice versa, making it more of a case of Where Da White Women At?.
    • Likewise with Jude and Cara.
  • But Not Too White: Which is the in-universe equivalent of But Not Too Black.
  • Children Are Innocent:
    • Played completely straight in young Callum, Sephy, Callie.
    • Brutally averted by the younger peers in Callie's school.
  • Childhood Friends: Played with concerning Sephy and Callum. As they grow up their romantic feelings are completely, 100% reciprocated but outside forces tear them apart brutally averting the 'victorious' part of this trope.
    • Played straight with Tobey and Callie Rose.
  • Crapsack World: If you're a nought. Also, Britain is a rare example of dystopia/Crapsack World in that society functions well.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: And how. Much of the attitude against noughts mirrors prejudice against Black people during segregation in America, and to a lesser extent attitudes towards black people in Britain until the 1960's. The Liberation Milita are realistic Well-Intentioned Extremist, and Kamal Hadley's political policy of "sending white people back where the came from," resembles some peoples ideas about immigration in (modern) Britain. There is even a reference to a KKK-esque band of Crosses who tied a nought to the back of a car and dragged him till he died for being in a Cross only area.
  • Downer Ending: Depends on which book you read. Noughts and Crosses and Knife Edge have these, but it's averted overall because the And the Adventure Continues.
  • Dude, She's Like, in a Coma!: Tobey to Callie Rose.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Jasmine from the start, then Sephy as a teenager.
  • White Menial Labour: Meggie is a housemaid, Sarah is a cleaner, Tobey works in a shop for a while, Callum in a garage...
  • Not So Fantastic Racism
  • Fantastic Slur: Nought, Cross (although those are politically correct, "nought," means to be nothing, not worthwhile,) Blanker, Dagger, Halfer. The list goes on.
  • Earn your happy ending: Toby's struggle throughout his entire A Day in the Limelight book is for this cause. The entire series is this because it is the final book
  • First Love: Callum and Sephy for each other.
  • Forbidden Friendship: Sephy and Callum start as this and upgrade to Star-Crossed Lovers during the course of the book.
  • Generation Xerox: Sephy names Callie Rose after her father.
  • Her Heart Will Go On: Sephy attempts to invoke this, dating Sonny and eventually agreeing to marry Nathan years after the events of the first book. However Callie doubts than she ever really got over Callum.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Callum agrees to be hanged in exchange for Sephy keeping their child.
  • La Résistance: The Liberation Militia
  • Mama Bear: Meggie. Mcgregor. And Jasmine Hadley.
  • Meaningful Name: Persephone (Sephy) Hadley.
    • Callum's name (meaning Dove of Peace) is a particularly tragic example, as he starts out believing in fighting for racial equality through peaceful, non-violent means, but has the hope slowly beaten out of him.
  • The Ophelia: Lynette, in a creepy, realistic way. "But I'm a Cross. Look at my skin, so dark and rich..."
  • Papa Wolf: Ryan Mcgregor to his children.
  • President Evil: Kamal Hadley was planning on being Prime Minster, but he didn't succed.
  • Ray of Hope Ending: Noughts and Crosses. Callum is hanged with Sephy screaming her love for him as he dies and no one else believes he's innocent. However the last page of the book bears the announcement of the birth of their daughter and Sephy's declaration she'll take Callum's surname.
  • Rebellious Princess: Sephy is a modern version as the daughter of a politician.
  • Save the Villain: Sephy to Jude, so she can help his mother, Meggie.
  • Sleazy Politician : Kamal
  • Someone to Remember Him By: Sephy names their daughter Callie-Rose after Callum and the rose garden where they last saw each other.
  • Spirited Young Lady: Sephy.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Sephy and Callum.
  • Token White: It is mentioned by Meggie that in all T.V shows there will only be ONE nought if any.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Basically the entire first book for Callum: His sister is borderline insane, his older brother picks on him and his parents disapprove of him continuing his education at an all-white high school, at said-school he's constantly bullied by students and teachers for his race. Then his sister dies in a bus accident, which he discovers was suicide but can't bring himself to tell anyone, his dad is arrested for murder, almost executed and then killed trying to escape. And of course he has to keep his friendship with Sephy a secret, then falls in love with her while knowing they can never be together as he misses his one chance to run away with her. They eventually have one night together and conceive a child...which results in him being put to death and not even being allowed to see her again before he dies.
    • Thanks to the above events, Callum's family suffer this as well.
  • Unfortunate Implications: Invoked In-universe.
  • Uptown Girl: Sephy, the daughter of a wealthy politician, to Callum whose mother used to work for her parents. It's just one of the many obstacles they face.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Sephy, at least during the first book. Callum is this in comparison to the rest of his family but get's steadily more cynical.
  • Where Da nought Women At: Lynette and her mentioned boyfriend, Jed. They are almost killed because of it, sending her over the edge.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Jude, starts of a sweet but troubled kid who eventually slides down the slope into being a ruthless and destructive leader of the Liberation Militia.