Name: Noughts and Crosses
Author: Malorie Blackman
Genre: Young Adult, Alternate Reality
Callum is the 2012 short story by Malorie Blackman, written for World Book Day 2012.
Unlike Blackman’s other two short stories, An Eye For An Eye and Nought Forever, this one is an alternate ending to the first novel, Noughts and Crosses. As such the story begins quite late into that novels events so there are spoilers for the first main novel in this review.
The story picks up when Callum is now a member of the Liberation Militia and along with Jude in a terrorist cell has kidnapped Persephone Hadley and have her trapped in the woods. The intention behind the kidnap was to hold her to ransom so her father Kamal, the Prime Minister, will pay them money. Jude and the others go out to get food, leaving Callum alone with Sephy.
Whilst watching her sleep, he realises that Jude will probably kill Sephy, so he decides that the two of them must make a run for it whilst the others are gone and hopefully if they can make it back to civilization, Callum may be able to redeem himself for his past mistakes.
Will the two of them make it to safety? What will happen if Jude catches them? Will it lead the two brothers into a deadly confrontation?
As stated above, this book is an alternate ending rather than a new story set within the world of Noughts and Crosses. It is a very exciting short read with the game of cat and mouse between Callum and Sephy and Jude being very exciting to read.
I also liked how this alternate ending gave Callum and Sephy more time with each other so as a result they are able to repair the damage to their friendship as Callum realises he cares and still loves Sephy, whereas in the original story the escape is much more frantic.
However, I do like how the original novel ended with Kamal trying to force Sephy into an abortion which ultimately seals Callum’s fate which I feel is a far more tragic ending to his story than the confrontation with Jude at the end of this short story which comes across a bit of a Wild West, Good vs. Evil battle whereas the original is more nuanced.
Also this short story ending does affect some of the plot points in the second and third books. In particular, in this alternate ending Callum never got the chance to write his letters to Sephy, both the malicious one he wrote when he was trying to push her away and the much more loving one that Sephy eventually received from the guard which is a big part of both her and Callie’s character development in the next two entries.
Overall it is an enjoyable quick read but I would see it as an interesting “what if” scenario as I’m much happier with the original books plotline.