Posted in Hayley Barker, Reading, Review

Show Stopper by Hayley Barker [Review]

(I’ll put in a proper colour picture of the book because I don’t feel like the black and white one in the banner does it any justice at all)


This book was an impulse purchase – I saw it on the bottom shelf in WHSmiths and basically just went, “Ooh, it’s shiny. I need it.” The book dragon inside me took control during the walk from the shelf to the tills at the other side of the shop. The synopsis sounded good, so I brought it, but when I got home I read a few reviews and was starting to regret that decision.

The book took me eight days to read. As I normally devour books I enjoy in a day or two, that says a lot about how I feel. I found the story very slow. It took me a few days to get into, but the plot dragged through all the uninteresting parts, and rushed through anything that could’ve been exciting and I wanted to spend more time reading

+ No world building

We never find out why the world it this way, especially since there is very little world building. We get told that Pures were mindlessly evil, and Dregs are nice and misunderstood, but there’s no explanation about why society became this way, or why the only Good Pure is conveniently the naïve white boy who is also the love interest


+ Insta Love

“Three days ago, I hadn’t even met him, but now I’d already die a hundred deaths for him.”

As soon as I got to this line (around three quarters into the book), I realised that it summed up most of the issues that I had with it. You met him three days ago, and hated him for two of those days. But then she’s literally about to be killed and she’s more worried about looking sexy for him during her performance


+ Senseless violence / unbelievable villain

I can understand that violence would fit into a story like this as it is set in what is basically a slave circus run by a ‘demonic’ ringmaster, but I don’t understand why the plot ended up in a way where it could only progress if something violent happened. The guy who is supposed to be the villain of the book reminds me more of a cartoon character who murders people just to show off their power then cackles manically in the shadows, rather than someone who is a fully fleshed out character with interesting and believable motives to justify (or at least explain) their actions. I also found that I was more interested in the story Hoshiko was telling about his backstory, rather than what was happening in the present


+ Setting

The one thing I did enjoy was the setting. I love circuses and the potential they have as a setting and was intrigued by the twist this book put on the location. But, after reading Caraval only two books before, this circus did feel a bit like a caricature trailing behind something that I consider to be a masterpiece. But I did like it. There’s still things that I would change personally, but I did like it.


In conclusion, the cover is beautiful and probably my favourite part of the book. The ideas had potential, but I just wasn’t invested in how they were executed.


Rating: ★★☆☆☆


On a cold Autumn evening back in 2008, seven-year-old Tegan Anderson began to write their first short stories, finding a more creative way to learn their spellings. Many years and many more short stories later, they haven't stopped for anything. Now, they're writing more than they ever believed possible. Tegan may write the worlds they would prefer to exist in but currently lives in Devon with their overflowing bookshelves and expanding imagination.

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