Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Posted August 15, 2011 | 1 Comment

Beauty Queens by Libba BrayBeauty Queens
Author: Libba Bray
Published by: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: May 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 405
Source: Won

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.

Oh boy, where to start…  And I mean that in a good way.  I’m glad I already knew going into it that this book was a little different.  It took me a couple chapters to adjust, but once I did, I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Beauty Queens was the first book by Libba Bray that I’ve read, but I know it won’t be my last!  I absolutely love satire – give me some Mel Brooks and Monty Python any day!

When someone tells you that there is a book about beauty queens getting stranded on a remote island… c’mon, you know it’s going to be all kinds of funny.  But along with the funny, we get to see a deeper part of these girls, and watch them come to grips with who they truly are.  It doesn’t matter who you are, we have all had pressure on us at some point to behave a certain way, do certain things, please other people, etc.  Beauty Queens was a wonderful story about self-discovery and learning to be you for you, not for anyone else.

I can honestly say that I like all of the girls who survived, and I saw a lot of their issues in some people I know, so it kind of personalized it.  You have the girl who has trust issues from watching her mom jump from husband to husband… the girl who is struggling with her sexuality… the girl(s) who do what is expected of them, even if it makes them unhappy… the girl who thinks she’s dumb… the girl who still craves that approval and attention from a parent who abandoned her… on and on.   I think there are a lot of people, not just teen girls, who could identify in some way with one of them.

The commercials inserted in the book were quite entertaining and unique.  Let me tell you, I definitely want some maxi-pad pets in my pants! Who wouldn’t?!  The footnotes were funny, but a little distracting.   Then again, it just may be that I’m still bitter from all the hours of footnotes in the research journals I had to read during college.¹

So do I recommend this book?  Absolutely!  It might take some getting used to at first, but if you stick with it it’ll be a fun adventure.

1.  Those journal footnotes seriously took up like 80% of the page sometimes!


One response to “Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

  1. TG

    I just finished reading this and should put my own review up tomorrow. Unlike you, I did not know how different it would be and it took me a while to get used to it! You're right, though, it is totally the characters and the depth that's given to them that make up the best part of this book. I loved Mary Lou's backstory and Taylor's was so sad!

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