What to Read After... Noughts & Crosses

Published on: 19 May 2019 Author: Emily Drabble

Malorie Blackman's Noughts & Crosses is an absolute sensation - but if you've read all the books in the series, what can you try next? What to Read After is here to help you out...

Noughts & Crosses

When Noughts and Crosses was first published in 2001 - the book that gave the whole series its name - it took the YA world by storm.

The series is set in an alternative timeline in which Africans made Europeans their slaves; slavery has been abolished, but the Crosses are very much in control. 

Now it's hard to imagine the YA landscape without the epic love story of Sephy and Callum, Malorie's star-crossed lovers - her very own Romeo and Juliet. After Noughts and Crosses, Knife Edge, Checkmate, and Double Cross followed - and now, this August, we'll get Crossfire.

But after devouring Crossfire (and while looking forward to the upcoming Noughts & Crosses BBC series, featuring a guest appearance from Stormzy), what should a mega-fan read next?

For those still at primary school who read the first Noughts and Crosses very young... and aren't quite old enough for the rest of the series yet

The front cover of The Middler

The front cover of The Middler, illustrated by Matt Saunders

Noughts and Crosses is not necessarily recommended reading for 10-year-olds, but the first in the series often gets picked up early. It's probably best to wait a year or so before trying the other books in the series, so in the meantime read Julia Green's new book The House Of Light and meet heroine Bonnie, who lives in a post-climate change totalitarian state with her grandfather and longs for freedom.

You could also try Kirsty Applebaum's gripping tale of forbidden friendship, The Middler . Sam Gayton's The Last Zoo is also hotly recommended - it's a great adventure which hints at dystopia but remains hopeful.

For more alternative history set in unpleasant regimes

The front cover of The Internment

The front cover of Internment, illustrated by Dana Ledl

Go for Samira Ahmed's Internment - set in a reality so familiar that it's just a whisker away, 17-year-old Layla is forced into an internment camp for Muslim-Americans along with her parents. Also try Ryan Graudin's fantastic Wolf by Wolf, which is set in 1956 in an alternative history where the Nazis and Japan won the Second World War.

You might like Teri Terry's Slated trilogy, set about 40 years in the future after the UK has left the EU and closed its borders - like Noughts and Crosses, it also includes a 'terrorist' group that disagrees with the government.

And please don't miss Meg Rossof's strange and beautiful How I Live Now, in which 15 year-old American girl Daisy is sent to England for the summer in what seems at first like it might be just after the Second World War, but isn't. It's one of the most perfect books ever written.

For more fighting for justice

A real world setting now, but Angie Thomas's The Hate U Give is a must read.

For readers who want more dystopia

Noughts and Crosses is many teens' first taste of dystopia. Those who hunger for more should of course try Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games and Veronica Roth's Divergent. Moira Young's Dustlands series - which starts with Blood Red Road - is set in a horrible, environmentally degraded world, and it's very good.

For more star-crossed lovers

The front cover of Matched

The front cover of Matched - photograph by Samantha Aide

Try Matched by Alli Condie, set in a society that controls every aspect of its citizens' lives - what happens if you fall in love with someone to whom you haven't been assigned to? For more romance (but definitely not the slushy kind) try the Shatter Me dystopian thriller series by Tahereh Mafi. Narrated by 17 year-old Juliette it does include a love story... although lots of violence, too!

For when only more Malorie will do...

Luckily, Malorie has written many more books for teenagers. If you want to try another Shakespeare-inspired book, Chasing The Starsis Malorie's fabulous futuristic retelling of Othello, a love story set in deep space. There are also two Noughts and Crosses novellas, Callum and An Eye for An Eye.

Elsewhere, Boys Don't Cry is the story of two teenage brothers dealing with their challenging lives; one is gay, and one becomes a teenage dad. And do check out Malorie's two great anthologies: her collection of teenage love stories, Love Hurts (which includes a story by Malorie herself) and Unheard Voices, a collection of writing released to mark the 200th anniversary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade act (again, it includes a powerful short story by Malorie).

Your recommendations

The front cover of Enchantee

The front cover of Enchantee by Gita Trelease, illustrated by Helen Crawford-White

As always, you came up with some fantastic suggestions! To get you started, we asked former School Librarian of the Year Lucas Maxwell to share his recommendations for what to read after Noughts and Crosses...

'Check out Enchantee by Gita Trelease - on the eve of the French Revolution, one girl must use a forbidden magic to save her family. Also read Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan - after being forced to abandon her family, Lei becomes a slave to a demonic and evil king. From within the palace, she starts a revolt with deadly consequences.

'Finally, I recommend Dread Nation by Justina Ireland - it's a thrilling alternative history in which the dead roam the battlefield during the US civil war. Intrigue, action and zombies!'

You went on to come up with some great ideas - some of our favourites are below...

The front covers of Rani & Sukh, Daz & Zoe and After Tomorrow

  • If you can't quite move on from Noughts & Crosses yet, @gomabbitt had a recommendation for you on Instagram: 'Have you seen the graphic novel illustrated by John Aggs, adapted by Ian Edginton? It's great!'
  • Over on Twitter, one recommendation was backed up by Malorie herself! @HannaaMotara said: 'Rani and Sukh by Bali Rai was a fab read for young adults. I read it as a teen and it was Bali himself who recommended Noughts and Crosses. Forever grateful.' And Malorie replied: 'I agree with you about Rani and Sukh. Gripping, moving, excellent read. Love Bali's books!' If that's not a recommendation, we don't know what is.
  • Elsewhere, @debraperrin63 suggested Scott Westerfeld's Uglies books, while @HazeleyLibrary had a whole host of ideas: Marie Lu's Legend series, the Chaos Walking trilogy from Patrick Ness, The Giver by Lois Lowry, Flawed by Cecelia Ahern and The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer.
  • That ought to keep you going for a little while, but once you're done with that little lot, @HelenaPielichat suggests Daz 4 Zoe by Robert Swindells for its 'dystopian view of class divide': 'Superb and prescient.'
  • Gillian Cross's After Tomorrow was recommended by @konallis: 'British people live in refugee camps near Calais following economic collapse.'
  • And finally, @vonprice had another great idea for us: 'I would suggest another fabulous alternative reality or dystopian novel for YA, not primary school, is Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner. It's now available with open dyslexic font!' Fabulous! Now, we're off to go and do some reading...

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