I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
Also by this author: Lair of Dreams, Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories
Published by Scholastic Inc. on May 24th 2011
Genres: Young Adult, Social Issues, Adolescence, Action & Adventure, General
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From bestselling, Printz Award-winning author Libba Bray, the story of a plane of beauty pageant contestants that crashes on a desert island. Teen beauty queens. A "Lost"-like island. Mysteries and dangers. No access to emall. And the spirit of fierce, feral competition that lives underground in girls, a savage brutality that can only be revealed by a journey into the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Oh, the horror, the horror! Only funnier. With evening gowns. And a body count.
I feel like my thoughts on feminism are perfectly summed up in Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. Now I won’t have to explain my views, but just hand people Libba Bray’s book instead.
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray begins with a word from our sponsors, The Corporation, warning that some things may be subversive. In this Lord Of The Flies meets Miss America-esque novel, an airplane carrying 50 contestants in the Miss Teen Dream pageant crashes on a deserted island. Not everyone survives the crash. Those living are left to navigate the wild jungle wilderness with grace and poise. Sprinkled throughout the novel are fact sheets on each of the living contestants, adding background and interest. Plus I love numbered things, therefore loved those sections.
I feel like a broken record, but I loved Beauty Queens! From alpha girl Taylor Krystal Rene Hawkins who is the ultimate contestant to Petra with an interesting secret to Adina who wants to blow the lid off the operation to Jennifer who loves comics, the cast of characters is dynamite and layered. I loved that the main players had secrets and were diverse in ethnicity and sexual orientation. I loved that the characters were more than just a foible for a hot boy to show up. Instead, I though they were a great means to explore different issues within our society.
Beauty Queens contains satire that I could actually understand. I mean, I’ve been assigned reading that is ‘satire’ and I usually wind up not getting it. Although, I guess that says more about me than anything else. Anyhoo, Bray takes a hilarious look at our consumer culture. For example, there’s lady stache ‘off, a product continually mentioned that will get rid of your facial hair AND clear up your skin, oh and it also works as napalm in a pinch. There’s a lot of commercial products in this book that are lampooned. I loved it. I also loved that Libba Bray took on my favorite guilty pleasure, reality TV. There’s one in there that totally appealed to me, about Revolutionary Babes or something, pretty much features oversexualized women of the revolutionary era. Hilarious.
Besides this, race and class and sexism also are huge themes in this book. For example, the process of relegating women of color to sassy sidekick roles on tv is called out. There’s also a part where they mention how girls have to spend all this time on their appearance, but guys just have to put on clean clothes and they get all this praise. I love that. I can remember long discussions in women’s studies on these topics, so of course these themes appeal to my inner feminist.
I honestly hope that in the future teens will be discussing Beauty Queens in their book clubs or classrooms. There’s so much food for thought in this awesome read, that I think I could go on discussing it for days and days.
Disclosure: Received for review via Amazon Vine.