Showtime by Chloe Kayne.
Published: September 20, 2012.
Source: Received e-copy from author in exchange for a fair and honest review.
The grandeur of the traveling circus is at its peak in the early 1920s when sixteen-year-old Laila Vilonia is searching for an escape from her bleak future. Behind the gates of the legendary Marvelle Circus, she is thrust into a mysterious world she never knew existed—a paradise populated with outcasts. It’s in this glamorous new home that Laila sparks a controversial romance with notorious sideshow performer, "The Disappearing Man," and learns just how dangerous her new life can be.
Touring the picturesque eastern coast of America, Laila’s immersed in friendship, vaudeville, festivals, sequins, and serial killers. But behind the curtain, a sadistic plan is brewing that will crack the very foundation upon which she’s become so dependent.
I was really intrigued by the idea of this one so when Chloe Kayne offered to send me a copy for review I was very excited. While I think this book has a lot to offer, I don't think it was right for me. There were different aspects of the novel that didn't work for me, however I don't think they made it a bad book. Just personal preference on this one. I truly this the story presented here could potentially appeal to a lot of readers, I'm just the wrong one.
Laila Vilonia begins her life at the circus very quickly, throwing readers right into what is a fairly quick paced story which is great for keeping the plot from lulling. She spends some time finishing school on the circus grounds along with her roommates, who become good friends of hers. I enjoyed having them around because Laila worried constantly about the troubled mother she abandoned for the circus and having these friends around gave me hope that she would find a new, healthier family. When she finally gets the opportunity to participate in the circus' shows, I felt the story gained more direction, which was great. However I also noticed a little more inconsistency once this part began because one day Laila was pretty terrible in her new role, but the next she had improved drastically. While impressive, I found it a bit too unrealistic to really get into it. It wasn't a huge deal though because there was a lot of drama going on in the plot to keep the reader's attention. This was kind of hit and miss for me, but I did like that it lent the plot some direction, the lack of which seemed to be an issue that cropped up occasionally for me.
As for the girl at the center of the story herself, I found myself often torn on the character of Laila. There were times I enjoyed her sense of humor and her interactions with her new circus friends, but there were other times I felt she was really rude and closed off to anyone outside her small group. This being despite her hating the way everyone treats the circus-pariah-turned-Laila's-bf, Dex (who actually has a reason to be disliked). She defends him to no end without even understanding why the rest of the circus dislikes him, yet takes quite the attitude with other performers for no real reason. That was a little frustrating to me. I can see, though, how that can happen with a teenage girl, so it may not get the same reaction out of other readers.
On the topic of Dex... Oh, Dex. I feel like a lot of readers will fall in love with Dex. He is mysterious and brooding and apparently very handsome, even winning Laila's affections over her friend James (who almost every other girl in the circus seems to lust after) and a few other guys. He is set up as the dark hottie that is a fan favourite in paranormal novels, so I think he has the potential to be a popular love interest for readers. I personally just didn't understand the fascination with him. I am almost never the one that goes for the troubled and/or bad boys. In Brodi Ashton's Everneath series, I like Jack over Cole. In Tahereh Mafi's Shatter Me, I like Adam over Warner. I'm a sucker for the good-boy-next-door. So I just didn't fall for Dex like I didn't fall for Cole or Warner. I also didn't understand where Laila's obsession with him came from; I wanted more development in that aspect. I was not intrigued in him like she was because I didn't see where she got it, however I don't doubt that there are many people who will be intrigued and would swoon for Dex!
One of the things I noticed that I wasn't crazy about is how this book is set in the early 1920s (even says so in the blurb), yet I didn't feel much of the historical setting come through at all. I was disappointed by this as I am a huge lover of history and was hoping to have that as part of the setting. I do think, though, that that is something that non-history lovers won't notice and may even actually appreciate, as I know that some people feel that history can get in the way of or bog down the story. It doesn't in this case, so many of you may actually enjoy that. I also noticed that Chloe Kayne has a way with words and some sections of the book I enjoyed purely for her writing, but I think a good editor would have made that truly shine throughout the novel as there were words misused or out of place, and some unnecessary repetition.
All in all, this was not a bad book. It had an interesting story and a lot of drama. I just wasn't a big fan of the characters and felt like some aspects were missing. These things were largely subjective, though, so though it wasn't for me, I'm sure there are others who would enjoy it more!