Title: THE SHOW MUST NOT GO ON
Genre: YA Dystopian
Word Count: 70,000
Sixteen-year-old Lori Gibbs’s parents have registered her in Easten's Talent Show. If she impresses the judges, her parents move into the Palace for life. If she fails to impress, she'll hang.
Easten is an island surrounded by metal walls and ruled by a Council selected from the parents whose children impress in the shows. In Easten, pride is everything, and a parent’s status depends on how talented their child is. Lori can fly, a rare gift, and with that comes her parents’ plan for her life: levitate, impress, secure them a Palace room, and then go home to pop out her own talented children.
But ever since Lori’s best friend was hung for not impressing, Lori has had trouble controlling her anger towards Easten’s system. And worse, she starts to bond with another contestant, even though it’s forbidden. Davis is a smart, timid fifteen-year-old with a talent of holding his breath. His mom is dying of cancer, so she figured she had little to lose by registering him for the show.
While Davis is sure he’ll do well, Lori knows the truth. Davis’s talent is just as lame as his love for Easten and even lamer than the boy whose talent was picking up marbles with his toes.
With Davis’s time running out, Lori devises a plan to save him. If she fails, she'll lose her only friend and become a part of the system she’s vowed never to follow. But if she gets caught, she’ll hang quicker than her parents signed her registration form.
My talent was about the only thing that made my parents happy. And in my sixteen years of experience, I had learned their happiness usually ended in my suffering. So when they called me for dinner, their voices high and excited, a hard knot formed in the pit of my stomach. I walked into the kitchen where they sat at the table, holding hands and smiling. The knot in my stomach grew.
Our best silver platters were piled high with fish, chicken, and rice. Fruit and rolls topped our porcelain bowls. And our crystal pitchers were filled to the brim with tea. Eating well was not rare for us. Eating for a family of ten was.
Dad cleared his throat. “We’ve decided-”
“Wait until she sits,” Mom said.
I didn’t sit, and I didn’t touch the food. It wasn’t like it was poisoned. If I died, my talent would die with me, and then I’d be about as valuable as the platter of dead fish. But if they were going to wait until I sat to tell me what they were about to tell me, I’d stand for the rest of my life.
They exchanged a glance and then looked back to me.
“We’re registering you in the Talent Show,” Mom said.
My teeth clenched together. Our kingdom held Talent Shows four times a year. If a child’s talent impressed the judges, the parents were rewarded. If the child didn’t impress, the child suffered the consequences. You could see why the little I had eaten that day threatened to come back up.