This month we’re reading the second book in the Noughts & Crosses series, Knife Edge.
Perfect for classrooms, libraries and book clubs, these notes will get you talking.
Sephy is a Cross, a member of the privileged ruling class in a world where paler-skinned Noughts are treated as second-class citizens. But her baby daughter has a Nought father,now dead. And his brother, Jude, blames Sephy for his death. As Sephy struggles to raise her child, Jude plans his revenge. Ultimately, as Jude faces justice for his actions, his life will depend on Sephy -and on her choices. Once again, she is forced to take sides…This second book in the Noughts & Crosses sequence is a powerful exploration of revenge and hatred-and of the nature of truth and justice.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY
. . .’A powerful story of race and prejudice’ Sunday Times
‘Every bit as exciting and intelligently written as one would expect Both moving and thought-provoking’ Observer
‘Devastatingly powerful’ Guardian
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO THINK ABOUT
Knife Edge is set in a time when the ruling Crosses treat the Noughts as second-class citizens. The story itself is intensely personal but Malorie Blackman has used snippets from newspapers and other media at varied intervals to show the background against which this story is set.-How well do you think this works?-Are there any particular incidents described which made you think differently about anything as a result of seeing them from a different perspective?
1. THE BACKGROUND SOCIETY
Jude lives his life according to a number of rules; eg: Never trust a Cross. Ever. (chapter 3). How many rules can you find within the book?-Why do you think Jude has made up rules to live by?-Do they work for him?-How do these rules affect how he treats others around him?
2. JUDE’S LAWS
In Knife Edge, we first meet Sephy just after she gives birth to her daughter – and is terrified.-‘I’ve never felt so scared,’ she says. Do you think this is a common reaction to becoming a parent for the first time? What else do you think Sephy is scared of at this point?- Sephy is aware that motherhood has changed her. How is she different from the girl readers first met in Noughts & Crosses?- Do you feel that her baby being in a Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) makes it harder for Sephy to bond with Callie Rose?
3. SEPHY AS A MOTHER
Sephy’s sister Minerva visits her in the hospital and talks of her own ambition to make it as a journalist.- How does she try to use her relationship with Sephy to further her career?- How does Sephy use Minerva to help her get information?
– Do you think the two sisters can ever be real friends?
Singing with Sonny and the other band members is a way for Sephy to help support herself and her baby. But her first experiences show that discrimination is rife in this world (chapter 33).- How does Sephy deal with the discrimination?- Is there another way she could have handled this better?- What would you have felt if you were in the audience? In the band?- And do you know of any historical parallels to this in our own world? Do you think the music business today has any
elements of prejudice in the way musicians from different backgrounds are treated?
5. SEPHY’S CAREER AS A SINGER
Jude is a member of the Liberation Militia, fighting for equality for Noughts . Yet he is also prejudiced against the Crosses eg: his statement on seeing a mixed-race couple in chapter 15 that ‘the only nought women who went with daggers were skanks’.- In what other ways does Jude show his hatred for Crosses?- Is his view understandable, given what has happened to his family?
6. JUDE’S PREJUDICES
We first meet Cara in chapter 9 when Jude and Cara meet.- Was the tragedy that is to come inevitable?- Why do you think Jude does what he does?- Do you think Jude ever shows any remorse?- His mother, Meggie, says that she believes Jude is innocent; do you think she really believes in his innocence or can’t face the truth?- How would you feel if Jude was your son/brother/friend? What would you say to him?
7. JUDE AND CARA
– Why do you feel Sephy decides to help Jude? Are her motives believable?- How does Jude turn this to his own advantage – and what effect does this have on Sephy’s life?- What do you think would have happened if Sephy had not stood up for him?
8. SEPHY AND JUDE
Sephy calls Rose her ‘rainbow child’ and Malorie Blackman has used the image of the rainbow to divide the book into sections, each with a list of words to help reflect the mood of the piece.- How effective is this device?- Can you think up your own list of words to relate to each section?
9. RAINBOW CHILD
The book ends with a dramatic episode between Sephy and Rose, with Meggie stepping in at the right moment.- Do you think Sephy meant to hurt Rose? If not, what was she trying to do?- Was her desperation inevitable given what has happened in the story?- What do you think happened to Rose as a result of this scene?
Join the conversation on Twitter: #NoughtsandCrosses