Thursday, August 11, 2011

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream Pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea, crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner.

What's a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program - or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan - or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show op?

Welcome to the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Your tour guide? None other than Libba Bray, the hilarious, sensational, Printz Award-winning author of A Great and Terrible Beauty and Going Bovine. The result is a novel that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you never look at beauty the same way again. (from book jacket)

I adore Libba Bray and her novels, so I was really excited to borrow Beauty Queens from the library. This book was so awesome! It's crazy to think that the same author who wrote Beauty Queens also wrote The Gemma Doyle trilogy because the books are so different - but in a good way.

Libba Bray is a very intelligent author, in both her writing and plotting, so I knew that Beauty Queens would be a smart book with commentary on the ideas of beauty. The whole book was a satire, and even included product placement and commercial breaks to mirror tv shows and movies. There was a lot of discussion on feminism and the pressures on young girls from society to be beautiful. The commentary could be heavy-handed at times, but I didn't mind because Beauty Queens espoused such a great message.

If this wasn't a satire, I might not have enjoyed the book as much, since Libba Bray uses many tropes and cliches to characterize the villains and some plot elements. For example, at one point one of the beauty queens is dangled over a pond of piranhas - and who hasn't seen that before? But I knew it was supposed to be comical and not serious so I didn't really mind.

I liked that the novel changed points-of-view, so the audience could see each of the girls and what makes her tick. There were even neat facts sheets about each of the contestants spread throughout the book. Each girl had some kind of secret and none were as shallow as they seemed at first. Even so, most of the girls fit some kind of stereotype: the dumb blonde; the warrior feminist only doing the pageant to take it down; the girl doing the pageant to please her parents, etc. But, once again, since this was a satire, it didn't matter as much.

A combination of Lord of the Flies, Lost, and Drop Dead Gorgeous, Beauty Queens was funny and an enjoyable book to read. It had great messages about beauty, societal pressures, and feminism and discussed them in an engaging manner. I would highly recommend Beauty Queens along with Libba Bray's other novels.

Rating: 8 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from library.

2011/Scholastic/396 pages.

1 comment:

Karis Jacobstein said...

I loved this book! Absolutely hilarious. I'm pretty sure I peed a little more than once....