Title: Beauty Queens
Author: Libba Bray
Recommended for: teen girls, adults who like chick lit, people who like satires
Pages: 396 pages
Call Number/Link: Teen Fiction Bray, L.
What do you get when you cross America’s Next Top Model with Lost? A brilliantly funny novel by the queen of teen satire, 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 crashed on a desert island, 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 they do when the sexy pirates show up? Welcome to the heart of non-exfoliated darkness.
I loved many parts of Beauty Queen. It’s not often that I laugh out loud while reading or listening to a book, but I alarmed Natalie by laughing loudly several times while reading this book. I would never have thought of combining a beauty pageant and “Survivor.” Libba Bray is a genius! However, that said, there were moments when I thought she was a bit over the top, to the point that it just wasn’t funny to me. Overall, there were more positive moments.
Most of the beauty contestants were two-dimensional characters (or caricatures) at the beginning of the book. By the end, the beauty contestants who were main characters were well fleshed out and I had a pretty good idea of what made the other beauty contestants tick. (This was less true of the pirates, Corporation employees and other minor characters.) Whereas the beauty contestants seemed like a mostly homogeneous group early on, with the exception of Idina and uber-competitor Taylor, they turned out to have definite differences – and secrets. One character was a “wild girl.” One presented herself as a traditional East Indian immigrant (with a vaguely British accent) but was really a valley girl. One contestant was transgender, one was hearing impaired, one was an African-American girl whose mother wanted her to be lighter. They also all had different talents and gifts that helped the group survive on a deserted island. They created an irrigation system, built huts, crafted bows and arrows….
This book will be most appealing to readers who have a satirical bent and are not not too reverential of beauty pageants. It mocks Big Business, reality t.v. (and the media), commercials, international relations, political campaigns, dictators, and many other things.