Name: Nought Forever
Author: Malorie Blackman
Genre: Young Adult, Alternate Reality
Nought Forever is the third short story Malorie Blackman has written in the Noughts and Crosses world, published for World Book Day in 2019.
The story acts as a bridge of sorts between the events in Double Cross and Crossfire, which was the then upcoming fifth entry in the series. As a result this does contain spoilers for the ending of Double Cross immediately after this paragraph.
At the end of Double Cross, Tobey Durbridge’ s best friend Dan Jeavons has taken the blame for the death of local gangster McAuley. At the beginning of this short story he is on the run from both the police and McAuley’s men who want to take revenge. He has been badly beaten and shot and stumbles into the garden of a middle-aged nurse, Eva, but can she be trusted?
Eva is a nurse who lives alone after her daughter fell into crime and committed suicide. She stumbles across Dan and then faces a difficult choice when she learns what he has done. Will she turn him in or will she let him lie low?
The book is a very short and tight story and can be read in one sitting. The structure of the story reminded me very much of the confrontational scenes that we encounter in the third entry of the series, Checkmate where Callie and Sephy are in the basement as well as Jasmine and Jude and Blackman switches between the two characters really well and keeps the tension high throughout.
The book has only two characters and takes place in a single evening. Dan we have already met in Double Cross but Eva is a brand new character.
In Dan’s case the story does a good job of adding to his character and helping you to understand why he was sucked in by McAuley which is what set the wheels in motion for the previous book and humanises his character a bit more. In the previous book he is presented as someone who things he is quite brave and bold for working for a criminal but here we understand some of his reasoning for doing so.
Though we only see Eva for a small amount in this story, she is built into a very nuanced and complex character – she has had a difficult life and history with crime in Meadowview and appears somewhat reclusive before Dan stumbles into her life. She also feels a sense of guilt for what happened to her daughter and it makes for riveting reading as the two face off in.
In terms of understanding the main series the book isn’t really necessary to read (I read the main series before reading this book and got along just fine) however for a very quick read if you have a spare hour or so this will definitely keep you entertained.