Monday, June 27, 2011

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Title: Beauty QueensAuthor: Libba Bray
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc./Scholastic Press
Release Date: May 24th, 2011
Pages: 400 pages (hardcover)
How I Got the Book: Amazon Vine
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 up?

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 see beauty the same way again.


After their Corporation plane crashes on a desert island, the fourteen surviving beauty queens of the Corporation-sponsored Miss Teen Dream beauty pageant must fend for themselves and find a way to either make a home out of the island or be rescued. Between their clashes and practicing for the pageant, they come to rely on one another and discover themselves now that they're away from the pressures put on them by society and even their own families. But just beyond the forest, there is a Corporation compound planning an illegal arms deal with a dictator. These women aren't going down without a fight once they're discovered and plan to save the day, along with get the hell off that island.

When I read this just over a month ago, I loved it. Hell, I was over the MOON for it. After time to think about it, I fell out of love with this book. It isn't as great as I first thought it was and it would be a travesty if I didn't correct myself and make my true opinion known. Looking back at my old review, I'm wondering why I felt the way I did and I'm left without answers. My old review feels kind of... well, forced. Like I was blinded by the hype and forcing myself to say it because I just couldn't imagine not liking it.

There were a few funny points, but this satire wasn't as funny as I thought it was. The characters, starting out as stereotypes, all got their moment of depth but none of the moments were very well. The messages of female empowerment, that women and diversity should be celebrated and people should accept themselves as they are, are awesome, but they're not presented well. It's more like they're preached at me.

Preachy. Yeah, that's the one word I would use to describe this book. All of the values and ideas felt like they were being preached and thrown at me, not smoothly woven into the story. I support and believe in all that stuff already, so there's no need to preach it all to me. The magic of satire is that it makes people think about the subject, right? With Beauty Queens, all the ideas are presented to you and the reader doesn't have to think. The magic of it goes out just like that.

What wins the book for me even a little bit is that I did have soft spots for three of the characters (Adina, Petra, and Shanti) and that I liked most of the footnotes in the book. The ideas are great, but the way they're presented isn't.

In the end, Beauty Queens now leaves me speechless, and not in the way people want to be left speechless. This review itself is an example because this has to be one of the shortest reviews I've ever written. There's not much I can say or go in-depth about. (Also, I'm trying to cut down on my babbling.)

2 stars!

What am I reading next?: Chime by Franny Billingsley


  1. Agreed. I thought the messages were a bit too forced and in your face.
    I did think it was hilarious (and surprisingly dark) at times and I did love the footnotes and commercial breaks. Those were more of the satire, parody part of the book.

  2. I've read all of Libba Bray's books so far, and have enjoyed most of them. Well, sort of. After her last book, I decided that her style just isn't my taste and figured that would be that. But then I read the summary above. Sounds fantastic, right? Plus, the cover is hysterical. So, I got sucked into reading this book.


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