Wednesday, 17 August 2011
Review: Beauty Queens
Author: Libba Bray
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: May 24th, 2011
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Humour
When the 50 contestants for the annual Miss Teen Dream Pageant set off on a plane ride to Paradise Cove, they expect a few days of tanning, water slides and practicing for the competition. Things do not go as planned when their plane crashes on a deserted island. The fourteen remaining girls have to fight to survive while preparing for the competition. These girls are no strangers to weird diets, but never did they imagine having to eat grubs. Or having to battle vicious snakes and catch fish with hair straighteners. Although the girls appear to be perfect and happy pageant contestants, things are much more complicated than that. Each girl has her secrets. If Miss Hampshire hates beauty pageants so much, then why is she in one? Why does Miss Nebraska wear a purity ring? Does Miss Mississippi love pageants as much as she says she does? Why is Miss Rhode Island so desperate to find her luggage? The girls work together to survive and grow close to one another. As time passes, it becomes clear that the island isn’t as deserted as the girls thought.
I had a lot of fun reading this book! Beauty Queens is a satirical look at what it means to be a girl in the 21st century. Bray pokes fun at the media and consumerism through some footnotes and “Word from your Sponsor” messages. This book is very character driven. Of the remaining girls, the reader gets to know nine of them well. The strong female leads were what I loved most about this book. I pretty much loved them all, although Adina had some moments where she was difficult to like. Some of the girls started off as feeling like huge clichés, but by the end of the novel I felt like I judged them too fast (like Tiara and Shanti.) Bray did a good job at developing all of these characters, and her portrayals of these girls felt very real. She addressed some major issues without it feeling too preachy or forced. My favourite characters were Mary Lou (who really did have a good chance at Miss Congeniality, if you ask me,) and Jennifer, who was a complete badass with a love of comic books. The references to Lost and Doctor Who made me very happy, even if they were only briefly mentioned indirectly. Overall, getting to know these girls was one of the best parts of the novel, for me.
I should say that this book isn’t for everyone. I feel like it might be a little bit too weird for some people. It’s completely over the top at times. There’s an evil dictator called MoMo. There are pirates and reality TV shows. But Beauty Queens is not supposed to be realistic. At times, it was ridiculous, and I loved it. Quirky and entertaining, I think that book was perfect for reading at the beach. A great summer read that can be fun and outrageous, but addresses some bigger issues as well.
"I love you for who you are, not who the world thinks you should be."