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.
(Summary from GoodReads)
I am really glad that I selected Beauty Queens as my first book by Libba Bray. I had to buy it when it first came out because I thought it sounded quirky and funny, and I had to own a book with that cover. If you’re thinking this book sounds like Lost but with teenage girls, that’s definitely about right. Parts of Beauty Queens plot are over the top, but I appreciated the humor, satire, and diversity I found throughout the story.
Bray does not focus girls from all fifty states in this book, which is good because that would have been overwhelming. Instead there are probably somewhere between seven and ten who carry a lot of the focus, and five who are more minor characters. The girls she features are of different races, sexual orientations, gender identities, and religious backgrounds. It sounds like it could be overwhelming, but it’s really not. Topics like how only one person of color might make it into the top five are raised, but never in a way that sounds didactic or like a message is being shoved down the readers throat.
Beauty Queens is very obviously satire. It’s meant to be a commentary on commercialism and big corporations. While at times the mockery felt a little obvious, I didn’t really mind because it remained funny. There are footnotes throughout the story, which were hysterical. I also liked that Bray played with the format in that there were occasional bios about the girls as well as commercial breaks.
There is definitely a storyline here that’s enjoyable to follow along. I will say there were times when things got just too ridiculous. Was it amusing? Yes. Believable? No, not always. Yet now that I think of it, perhaps Bray was also making a jab at reality television by going slightly over the top.
If you are need of a YA novel that is intelligent and laugh out loud hilarious, make Beauty Queens one of your next reads. Luckily, if you aren’t stuck on a deserted island, this one makes a great beach read. While it looks fluffy from the front, much like its characters, Beauty Queens has an amount of depth that left me fulfilled as a reader.
Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this book.