Checkmate by Malorie Blackman book review

I finished this book this morning and lets just say I can understand why it was so controversial….


This book started differently. Whereas Knife Edge followed nearly enough straight on from Noughts and Crosses this one went straight to Callie Rose’s 16th birthday. I was like… hang on! What happened… are you not going to reveal what happened at the end of Knife Edge?
But they did… through a series of flashbacks which I so so enjoyed.
It went through the stages of Callie’s life and how she doted on her Nana Meggie and how her relationship with her mother slowly started to disintegrate.
At around 10 Callie met her Uncle Jude and my god he’s warped… okay so yeah he is the books ‘baddie’ but he wasn’t all bad… Its like he was brainwashed and corrupted to thinking that way. He slowly started to go down that ‘evil’ road when his dad was murdered and then what happened with Callum… well he just went down hill.
Sephy has told Callie a lie about how her dad died to save her feelings and when she meets Uncle Jude he slowly starts to groom her so he can use her as a weapon for his revenge on Sephy.
He blames Sephy for Callum’s death so using Callie is one of the best ways to hurt her.
As the story flashed between the past and present you can see how Jude slowly got into Callie’s head, how he slowly made her stop believing her mother, how he took her to her grandfather’s house only to have the door slammed in her face… Then in an argument between Callie and her best friend Tobey he tells her the truth about how her dad really died and that’s when everything changed.
Callie became cold and hateful and turned against her mother.
Jude of course told her the ‘truth’ about how her dad died and after that he gets her to join the LM…and this is where the controversial element comes into it… Jude is basically grooming Callie to become a suicide bomber…
And her target…?
Her grandfather, Kamal Hadley…..

In the present Callie is locked in the cellar of her Nana Jasmine’s house with her mother Sephy.
At the same time Jasmine is in a hotel room with Jude… with Callie’s bomb upon her….

Basically I think the whole thing comes down to Meggie… its up to her whether she closes her son or her granddaughter and well…
I wasn’t surprised who she chose.. I was expecting it but it still made me gasp!

As Sephy and Callie are having a heart to heart in the cellar l, Sephy shows Callie the true letter that Callum wrote to her and oh my god… I actually cried when reading it.
And when Sephy flashes back to the time when they made love… Oh my god I welled up again.
Sephy and Callum… well they are and always be true loves. Even though Callum is dead she can’t get him off her mind. Her relationship with Sonny goes down hill because she can think of nothing but Callum and even when she’s with Nathan you can tell her whole thoughts are with Callum. She does love Sonny and Nathan but you know she can’t give them her whole heart.
She loves them but Callum is her true love.

I always think what if…
What If Callum lived?
What If they raised Callie together?
What would have happened to their relationship?
Would Jude have been hell bent on revenge?
Would Sephy and Callum have stayed together? (I’d like to think they would have)

Anyway before my mind runs away with me on the possibility of what might have been and what if’s let me tell you that the ending… well its happy on one front and gasp worthy on the other.

I live these stories. Seriously Malorie is able to bring real issues and controversy into her books that you can’t help but argue with yourself the pros and cons. These books would be perfect for a book club because there are endless issues you can talk about. Also I really want to write some sort of essay on these books..  I feel so close to these characters and have taken them to my heart that I feel everything they feel, and yes you can also sympathise with Jude, because in a way he’s the saddest character in there.
And as for the controversy about Callie being groomed for a suicide bomber… well I would just like to point out that this happens… people do do this and by Malorie writing about this, well, you’ve become more aware of the situations and like the other books it really makes you stop and think about society as a whole and what would you do if you were in that situation.

Anyway I’m now reading the fourth, and I think its the last (although I am holding out for a fifth even if it has been three years since she wrote the fourth one!) Book in the series: Double Cross.

I give Checkmate 5 out of 5 stars

You really need to read these books!


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