Review: Hayley Barker – Show Stopper

Show Stopper
Hayley Barker

Ben lives a Pure life guarded by security and filled with food and comfort. He never wants for anything – except to be allowed to see the Circus. Hoshiko is the tightrope walker of the circus – a Dreg not worthy of food and just waiting to be killed. When Ben saves Hoshiko from death they find themselves walking the tightrope together – can they both make it out from the deadly circus alive?

The blurb on this one is actually inaccurate. The Dregs living in poverty do not get the opportunity to sell their children – their children are just ripped away from them if they are ‘selected’. What I would have liked to see more of was the slums and how bad they actually are. Or, just Pure life and what it looks like normally. To me, this is just another dystopian future society with problems, there isn’t anything particularly neat about it. I found it hard to believe in the insta-love between Ben and Hoshiko. I also find it difficult to believe in the things that the 6 year old Greta can accomplish by herself. I get that she is really grownup from her terrible circumstances, but realistically she wouldn’t be able to grasp all of those concepts.

This is the age old theme of us vs them. We get the perspectives of both the Cat and Ben, the Dreg and the Pure. This will remind some readers of Red Queen or Tarnished City and similar novels. What this novel brings to the table is just simple horribleness without magic as an excuse. The author says that she was inspired by the opinions of the English against immigrants, and I have to say it’s one of the few issues that makes me really upset. Asylum seekers didn’t risk their lives on a rickety boat because life back home was good!

I warmed up to the characters and settled in, and I was mainly satisfied by the ending. I am not going to avidly hunt down the next novel in this duology though because I just didn’t feel strongly enough about anything. I’d rather reread Disruption. I put off reading Show Stopper for more than a !year! because it looked ok, but not fascinating. The blurb didn’t grab me. I’m giving this novel 3 stars.

Scholastic | 1st October 2017 | AU$16.99 | paperback

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