Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
Published: May 24, 2011 by Scholastic
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?
Libba Bray is a genius. Her books are all over the map: A Great and Terrible Beauty could not be any more different than this book. Beauty Queens is absolutely absurd in the best and most hilarious ways. I really enjoyed reading it.
Why I love this book:
- footnotes - Every single footnote about a product from The Corporation was brilliant! You don't see many footnotes in YA fiction, but don't be scared - these are awesome footnotes, which may be a new thing. They helped show how outrageously staged the pageant was meant to be, and how crazy The Corporation really was.
- plot - First of all, if someone told me that changing one ingredient in a beauty product could it into an explosive, I would probably believe them - there are some crazy chemicals in the stuff we are willing to put on our faces for the sake of beauty. The whole premise of this book is absurd, but Libba Bray manages to work a lot of social commentary into the story in a way that makes you laugh.
- fake pirates - Yes. This book is so cool that it has fake pirates. And their explanations for how they came to be on the island are hilarious!
- bio pages + commercial breaks - More genius! These pages are so funny and show the influence of The Corporation on the girls in the pageant while helping us get to know the girls better.
- cover - This cover immediately drew my attention to this book. The lipsticks instead of bullets is so cool.
- problems - I know this book is meant to be crazy and it's awesome that way, but some things required more suspension of disbelief than others. Tons of people die in the plane crash, which is definitely realistic. But the girls are stuck on an island and not one of them has a health problem. Miss New Mexico has an airplane tray stuck in her forehead and the only ill effect is that she has a headache for a day. It would have been intense to see some attempts to fix that, or some wounds or something.
- ending scene - The ending was way too chick-flick cheesy for my taste. A dance party on a boat with virtual freeze frames highlighting each girl's future? It's great that everything worked out ok for them getting home, but this just puts it over the top into everything's hunky-dory for the rest of their lives, they all achieve their dreams kind of cheesy.
- "I came to Miss Teen Dream via a new program for at-risk girls that takes them from juvie to pageants, or as I like to call it, from one correctional facility to another.* *Pageant officials didn't think this was funny. Pageant officials not big on the jokes." - Jennifer (Miss Michigan) pg. 60
- "The Corporation would like to apologize for the preceding pages. Of course, it's not all right for girls to behave this way. Sexuality is not meant to be this way - an honest, consensual expression in which a girl might take an active role when she feels good and ready and not one minute before. No. Sexual desire is meant to sell soap. And cars. And beer." - pg. 178