29 May 2011

Knife Edge


Publisher's Synopsis:   Sephy is a Cross, one of the privileged in a society where the ruling Crosses treat the pale-skinned noughts as inferiors. But her baby daughter has a nought father...

Jude is a nought. Eaten up with bitterness, he blames Sephy for the terrible losses his family has suffered...

Now Jude's life rests on a knife edge. Will Sephy be forced, once again, to take sides?

This is the third book in the Noughts and Crosses series, and it's every bit as good as the first ones.

In the first section, the short chapters alternate between Jude, a nought, and Sephy, a Cross, with each telling their own separate but sometimes overlapping story. Jude is Callum's brother, and he blames Sephy for his brother's death by hanging. After planning to kill her in An Eye for An Eye, he's realized that he can get better revenge against her in the future, through her daughter, who was fathered by Callum. In the meantime, he also wants revenge against Andrew Dorn. When Jude and Callum and some other members of the Liberation Militia kidnapped Sephy in the first book, things went terribly wrong and Jude and Callum were the only LM members who came out of it alive. And then Callum was hanged. Jude has learned that Andrew Dorn actually worked for Sephy's father, and was a traitor to the LM cause. Now Jude wants Dorn dead. But he needs money. In a chance meeting with Cara, a Cross woman who runs a very successful hair salon, Jude finds his chance and despite his contempt for her, begins to woo her. I won't say anymore about that plot line, but I thought I saw where it was going, and the author gave me quite a shock when it suddenly went a different direction.

Sephy has given birth to a daughter, who she names Callie Rose. While in hospital, she is visited by first her sister, and then her mother, and a tentative reconciliation with them begins. But then Callum's mother, Meggie, also comes to see her, and begs her to consider moving in with her. Deciding that Meggie needs her more than her own mother does, she agrees.

Soon Meggie's voice joins in the narrative, as she begins contributing her version of events to the story. She loves Jude, and she loves Sephy and Callie Rose. When a shocking letter to Sephy arrives posthumously from Callum, it crumbles Sephy's already tottering world, and drives a wedge between her and everyone around her, including her daughter and Meggie.

All of the characters are richly drawn, with distinctive voices. I liked the alternating narrative, especially with Meggie added to the mix, as she helped give us a more defined picture of Sephy and her actions. Later Sephy's mother also contributes, and the pain and regret that everyone feels comes across heartbreakingly.

The book ends on a cliffhanger. Unfortunately, in this edition of the book anyway, if you turn the page there is a sneak peek at the next book, Checkmate, and if you allow yourself to even glance at it, the cliffhanger is immediately resolved for you. So good going, publisher.

(I received this book from a BookCrossing member in February 2009. Now I've got to get my hands on Checkmate!)

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