Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman is a book suggested to me by my agent. It's an alternative history book, the imagery of black and white role reversal being played out in a world similar to our own. It's YA or at least for older children and the main characters represent the age group of the audience. At it's heart is a Romeo and Juliet story between Callum (a nought and white) and Sephy (a cross and black). It's an apartheid culture that will keep the two apart and from the outset its obvious their difficult relationship is going to become a disaster as they age and face the world they live in.
I found the main characters a little bit too vanilla and their immediate landscape I kept imagining as the Southern US, when I think it was the UK (but this is probably me just putting my own experiences onto the book). The writing is excellent, but the kids aren't allowed to be themselves. I just didn't think they would have spoken in that way. An interesting idea but one that feels just a little bit too contrived.
John O'Farrell is a comedian I'm familiar with from his numerous appearances on Radio 4. He also writes history books, one of which is a tour through 2000 years of British history. His angle is that most of the disastrous decisions made have been by upper class idiots with little in the way of thoughts for the people they represent. This is GCSE level history but its very funny in places.
Read this week
An Utterly Impartial History of Britain or 2000 years of Upper Class Idiots in Charge by John O'Farrell
Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman