Name: Double Cross
Author: Malorie Blackman
Genre: Young Adult, Alternate Reality
Double Cross is the fourth novel in Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses series, released in 2008. I have reviewed the previous entries in the series, starting with the first novel here.
NB: As this series is a continuation, the review may contain spoilers for the first three novels in the series.
This fourth entry of the series begins in the middle in a similar fashion to the previous novel, Tobey Durbridge who is a minor character in the third novel but is the main character in this novel and it begins with him holding a gun to a man named McAuley’s head. After this the novel goes back a few months in time and shortly after the events of Checkmate as we learn how Tobey got into this situation.
At the end of the third novel, Callie’s grandmother Jasmine takes the bomb Callie made to the hotel Jude stays in and blows both herself and Jude up, as her terminal cancer has returned. She also posted a letter to the press about her ex-husband Kamal Hadley and his corruption which causes him to lose the election and a new equal rights bill has been passed. However the press doesn’t identify Jude in the papers as the man who died, instead naming his alias Robert Powers which causes Callie to start to blame herself and fear her uncle is still alive.
Meanwhile her friend Tobey is a Nought boy at an exclusive school mainly attended by Crosses. He is ambitious and hopes to keep himself out of trouble by going to University and getting a good job. However he sees the deprivation in his area in Meadowview and doesn’t like the No Man’s Land his neighbourhood has become with two rival criminal gangs – the Nought-led McAuley and the Cross family run Dowd’s have been carving up the land and having a turf war between each other.
Tobey also has begun a relationship with Callie but resents that he doesn’t have enough money and fears Callie will eventually leave him. At a football match his friend Dan tells him he has been working for McAuley, making deliveries and offers Tobey a job. He refuses and McAuley later turns up at Tobey’s school to ask him again. He again refuses but eventually relents and decides to do a one off job to help Dan.
Tobey makes the deliveries and discovers one of the packages was the finger of Ross Resnick, the manager of TFTM – an exclusive club owned by the Dowds. He panics and tells Dan he will not be involved with it again and if he gets arrested he will name Dan and McAuley. The next day, Tobey and Callie go to meet Dan to collect this money for the deliveries when out of nowhere the McAuley and Dowd gangs turn up for a shootout and Callie is shot and seriously injured in the cross fire.
In the hospital, Tobey refuses to name who shot Callie, causing her mother Sephy and the police to not trust him and he decides to carve out his own path for revenge against both gangs. As he begins to get closer though and play with fire, will he get too close and burned by the destruction?….
This is an amazing fourth entry in this series. In this novel Blackman does take a bit of risk by having a minor character in her previous novel become the main one in this novel but it allows her to tell a completely different story from the previous three entries which is still very timely today.
In many ways I think a lot of people can relate to Tobey’s character in a similar way to Callum in the first novel. He is ambitious and clearly has the capabilities to do extremely well in his life by getting into a Cross school. However, one of Tobey’s main flaws is his impatience and wanting to get to where he wants to be quickly and also his fear of losing Callie which ultimately sets wheel in motion for this novel.
As mentioned through Tobey’s journey, Blackman is making quite a timely commentary on gangs which is still relevant today. In the UK, it does seem like every couple of weeks there is a news report of a young life being taken because they turned to a life of crime and perhaps like Tobey they were sucked into it because of its perceived glamour or the fact it seems like the only way to make money and the only way out for them and it is quite sad to think this novel was published almost 15 years ago and today the same thing is still happening.
The ending of the novel is also bittersweet (though I don’t want to spoil it in this review) and perhaps serves as a cautionary tale against people trying to take the shortcut to success or taking the wrong path to achieve it.
In terms of the action, the novel has plenty of twists as Tobey begins to play both sides off against one another and as the stakes get higher I found myself reading it more and more to see if he can pull it off and both the McAuley and Dowd gangs seem suitably nasty and evil – apart from the Dowd’s youngest member Rebecca – who is kind but is overprotected by her brothers and her name ultimately means she doesn’t get to live the life she wants to.
I would highly recommend this entry in the series and can’t wait to continue with the fifth novel in the series, Crossfire.