Published by Scholastic on June 1st 2017
Genres: Dystopia, Fiction, Romance, Young Adult
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Set in a near-future England where the poorest people in the land are forced to sell their children to a travelling circus - to perform at the mercy of hungry lions, sabotaged high wires and a demonic ringmaster. The ruling class visit the circus as an escape from their structured, high-achieving lives - pure entertainment with a bloodthirsty edge. Ben, the teenage son of a draconian government minister, visits the circus for the first time and falls instantly in love with Hoshiko, a young performer. They come from harshly different worlds - but must join together to escape the circus and put an end to its brutal sport.
If you are after something a bit like Caravel or a bit like Hunger Games then look no further. This book will suit you down to the ground. I don’t normally compare books to other books in my reviews. Mainly because I find it to be a little bit false. But that is not the case with this book. And my comparisons certainly ring true.
I liked the extremity of the racial divide between the ‘dregs’ and the ‘natural born’ citizens. A concept that we have seen throughout history but has never gone this far. If it did this is how I imagine it would all end. The dregs have been pushed aside, used for entertainment and servants. Not considered worthy of attention.
However my favourite bit about this story is the action scenes in the circus. I wish that the whole story had been set in the circus. Because they had my heart racing and the scenes there kept surprising me again and again. The skills that Hoshiko has a tight-rope walker is fantastic. Especially when you see how abused and put down the circus performers are.
What I was not expecting was how dark and gruesome the detailing of this story is. It was quite surprising the levels of depravity described in this book. But despite all the darkness there is some hope, in the form of Hoshiko and Ben forming a relationship despite their different upbringings. They prove that matter what it ok to have a different opinion to the majority and right to stand up for what you believe in no matter what.
This is a gripping story that will keep you flipping the pages until the very end. This is dazzling and dark. Heart-breaking and uplifting. This beautiful story will make you wonder how it will all end.