Day 9: Book That Made You Ill

What an ambiguous topic. What does that even mean? I have yet to encounter a book so bad it makes me throw my guts up upon contact, but I am sure there is one out there. I dread the day I find that book. There have also been books that have made me particularly sad for a few days, but none of them have actually sent me into a depression. I guess I have to settle for the book that comes to the closest approximation of making me ill, though I have no idea what the maker of this list actually meant. I mean really? Ill? I think they were running out of ideas.

The book was, if memory serves, extremely well done. My favourite memory of reading this book was when I had Sarah McLachlan’s Surfacing playing in the background. At the most changing scene (I really don’t want to spoil it) near the end of the book, every song from the CD fit with story, which gave an extra depth to the story for me.

A[nyway, I chose Malory Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses. This was an odd book that I found in the bookstore and have not come across too often since. When I found it in the teen section as kid (which is where it was supposed to be), I noticed that it had a warning on the back because of sexual content. So, like any 13 or 14 year old, this immediately sold the book to me and I brought it home. It’s certainly not the usual find in the teen section. Noughts and Crosses deals heavily with racism and terrorism of all things, and those are two of the most rare teen lit themes there are.

Now, the one thing that you have to understand is that the noughts are the oppressed, and the crosses are those in power. The noughts are white, the crosses are black. Go figure. The book is also written so that it takes a long time for you to realise that the race/power dynamic is reversed, making that moment of realisation a powerful moment in the book.

It does make for a clever literary device. It tempts you to sit there are reverse the racial colours and see if it changes things, or if it doesn’t. The book makes for a fascinating read if nothing else. It follows Callum and Sephy, Sephy is the cross and Callum is the nought, as they grow up together in their racially charged society. As is traditional the older the two get, the harder it is for them to remain friends as society pulls them apart.

Superficiality is not something I would ever use to describe Noughts and Crosses. It goes pretty deep, and when I really think about it I’m surprised that our own world did not end up as screwed up as the world of Noughts and Crosses did by the end. If you want Romeo and Juliet, this is the book that will give it you. There are very few moments of happiness and then horrible moments where they are once again ripped away from each other once again. In fact, it’s the best Romeo and Juliet story I’ve ever heard, and I’m not sure it really tries to go there at all.

Written by
I graduated with a BA in English and minors in Film, Women Studies, and Religion and Culture. I adore fantasy and sci-fi, especially when it comes to the YA section, but that doesn't mean I don't read anything else. When I'm not reading, I'm writing, biking, taking my dog for long walks or watching anime.

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