Author: Hayley Barker
Genre: YA Fantasy
Published by: Scholastic
Publication date: 02/08/18
My rating: ★★★★★
I received a copy from Scholastic in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Hoshiko and Ben have been on the run since they burned Silvio Sabatini’s
circus down to the ground at the explosive finale of SHOW
STOPPER. But Ben’s mother will stop at nothing to track him down
and get her revenge: backing him into a corner where he is forced
to sacrifice himself to save Hoshiko. The deadliest show on earth
has been resurrected and if Ben thought he’d seen into its dark
corners as an outsider, the true extent of the horrors that lurk
beneath the Big Top are about to be revealed as he becomes the
circus’ new star attraction…
This review will be spoiler free for Show Stealer but will have some spoilers for Show Stopper. If you would like to read my Show Stopper review, you can find it here.
This review is quite possibly going to be a rambling mess about how much I adored this book. Show Stealer is the explosive follow up to Show Stopper, it well and truly surpassed my extremely high expectations. I absolutely adored it from the start, there are no words to describe just how brilliant this book is. I had to force myself to put it down to sleep and then picked it back up as soon as I woke up and didn’t leave my bed until I had finished it. I then just sat there and cried because it was so perfect and everything I wanted. That ending too, it was everything I wanted. I love these books so much, I’m sad it’s over but it definitely finished on a high. Though I hope one day we’ll get more, I’d love to know how events in the book shaped the future.
Set a year after Show Stopper ends and is again told from the perspective of Ben and Hoshi. Ben, Hoshi, Greta and Jack are still on the run after destroying the Cirque and killing it’s ringmaster, Silvio Sabatini. Plans are in place to bring the show back, bigger and better than ever under the watchful eye of Vivian Baines. After sacrificing himself to ensure Hoshi’s safety, Ben finds himself the brand new attraction in the deadliest show on earth alongside some familiar faces. Meanwhile Hoshi, Greta and Jack have fled to the slums seeking shelter and help take down the Cirque and get Ben back.
Just when you think the Cirque can’t get any worse, Hayley manages to up the ante with new, horrifyingly grotesque ways of entertaining the Pure’s. The plot is just as thought provoking, nerve wracking and relevant as it’s predecessor, perhaps even more so. I can’t get enough of the brilliant character development, it’s incredibly well written, especially Hoshi and Ben’s relationship (which I adore), the bond Hoshi and Greta have with each other. It’s so incredibly heartwarming. More than anything, I love that there is so much more to them than the circus, the injustice and blatant racism highlighted in the books which is so relevant to the world we’re living in. Unpredictable from start to finish, Show Stealer is quite simply, phenomenal! I cannot recommend these books enough, they’re a must read. Hayley deserves all the praise the books get.
I know this review isn’t doing the best job of selling it, it’s so hard to articulate how amazing it is, all the thoughts and feelings you get throughout. I can’t recommend it enough and I hope you go out and pick them up and enjoy them as much as I do!
About the author:
Hayley was inspired to write Show Stealer in response to her fears about the growing wave of crime and animosity against minority groups in England. One of the themes tackled in Show Stealer is the very fine line there sometimes is between terrorism and freedom fighting, and how this often depends completely on perspective and experience.
Hayley Barker has a BA (hons) degree from Birmingham University and has taught secondary school English for eighteen years. She is a huge YA fiction fan and says being published is the most exciting thing that has ever happened to her. Her first book, Show Stopper, was published by Scholastic in 2017. She lives in Essex with her husband and two young sons. @HayleyABarker