Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: May 24, 2011
Pages: 390
Source: purchased
Buy It: Amazon | Borders | Barnes & Noble
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. --Goodreads
A plane, flying Miss Teen Dream contestants to the destination of the beauty pageant, crashes on an island. After roll count, about twelve contestants remain alive; the others, including the pilot and various cameramen, have died in the crash. The girls are without supervision and for once must use their talents and brains to survive on this island.

Let’s talk about that cover. I know, never judge a book by the cover, but the front is what drew me in at first. There is a girl slightly smiling that held the same creepy-factor Mona Lisa has. It made me wonder why a girl stranded on an island would be smiling at all. (Even after completing the novel, I still do not know that answer.) I love how the title is on the sash, which definitely goes along with the book since all of the remaining contestants kept their sashes on to remember each other’s names. The lipsticks-like-bullets make me smile every time. It just looks like Libba Bray’s style.

I love Libba Bray’s writing. I fell in love with her style in A Great and Terrible Beauty and enjoyed every work she has done since. Beauty Queens was similar to Going Bovine (if you’ve read Going Bovine and enjoyed that, you’ll definitely love Beauty Queens). Both novels talked about serious issues in a fun and humorous way. Bray has a way of making the page come to life. Her structure in Beauty Queens is the perfect movie in your head, already equipped with commercials, portfolio worksheets, and Powerpoint slides. These random commercials and add-ins add comic relief and show the readers how crazy The Corporation, or the government, really is. It’s great.

However, the plot lacks something. Maybe it was my expectations going into the novel that threw me off, but I thought there was something missing. My expectations: A bunch of beauty queens had to fight to survive, similar to the plot of Flight 29 Down. There would be drama, adventure, and endless humor. Reality of the book: There was endless humor and it was fun to read about. The drama and adventure, I was waiting for, was given out in small doses. I was somewhat disappointed that Beauty Queens does not tell you how the girls got their huts constructed or fishing nets made. I’m still a bit curious as to how they found the resources to construct multiple huts and still have room to interior design.

Beauty Queens is, basically, a character-book. It focuses mainly on the characters’ thoughts, personalities, and emotions. By the end, I knew about all the twelve girls and loved each one for a different reason. I loved how the characters each had their own thing, something that set them apart from the group, whether it was being in a boy band, being wild, or even being an investigator.

The ending was fantastic and not what I would have suspected. Honestly, I thought all the girls were going to end up dying (that does not happen) or something along those lines. Overall, the book was good. Libba Bray is a genius with adding humor to the serious topics in life. She created a character-ruled novel that is fun and great for the beach.

First Sentence:
"This book begins with a plane crash."
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, p. 1

Cover: 5
Characters: 5
Plot: 2
Writing Style: 4
Ending: 5
Overall: 4

Rated PG-13 for moderate language, scary themes, sexual references, and adult content.

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  1. Great review!! It's very well thought out and written, and I like that you've given a balanced view of the book.

    This is one of the books I could have bought at the "This Is Teen" event, but didn't. It wasn't just because I didn't want to spend too much money, either.

    When I first saw this book on a blog, I was actually turned off by the cover. I think beauty pageants are very shallow things. Here we are in the 21st century, and women are still being judged primarily by their beauty! Besides, the plot reminds me of "Lord of the Flies".

    Now that I've read a couple of reviews about the book, and know more about the plot, I have seen that Bray intends this novel to be a humorous satire on the whole beauty scene. Still, the plot is not really something that I'd be anxious to get into.

    Having read your review, I see that my gut feeling has been vindicated. I might still read the book, but I'd check it out of the library. I certainly wouldn't buy it.

    Thanks for your thoughts!! : )