Beauty Queens – Libba Bray
Genre: YA; Humor; Adventure; Chick Lit
Summary: Miss Teen Dream, a prestigious pageant that features fifty contestants, is upon us. The contestants are on a plane to the pageant when disaster strikes: the plane crashes on a remote island, and many of the girls die. Will the survivors band together in order to survive? Will they ever return to civilization?
Review: I’ve only read a few books by Libba Bray, and my overall experience has been rather mixed. Fortunately for me, I found Beauty Queens to be a thoroughly fun romp through the pageant jungle (see what I did there?)
The standout feature of this book was, of course, the humor. I firmly believe that any book written about pageants shouldn’t take itself too seriously, and Bray certainly didn’t fail to entertain me. All of the subject matter certainly wasn’t warm, fuzzy, and happy (I mean, they got in a plane crash, for goodness sakes), but even at its more serious moments, Beauty Queens had me laughing out loud. The scene that sticks out the most in this regard is definitely how some of the contestants wanted to continue practicing for the pageant, even though they were castaways on an island and there was no real possibility that they would be leaving anytime soon. I also loved that one of the teams decided to choose “Sparkle Ponies” as their team name; I may or may not have spit out my coffee when I read that because I was laughing so hard.
While humor abounds, Beauty Queens also tackles serious issues. On the whole, the book was a tongue-in-cheek attempt to poke fun at American culture, and it worked really well. The bits with commercials from the Corporation were especially compelling, and even though I was reading, it almost felt like I was watching television.
In the same vein, I loved the fact sheets and different voices throughout. Even though many of the contestants may have seemed flighty and perfect on the outside, on the inside, there was usually a lot going on. Many issues are tackled, including sexuality, gender identity, losing a parent, feeling insecure, and feeling like an outcast because of ethnicity, and they were addressed exceptionally well. I’m sure many teens could relate to the experiences detailed therein.
The cast of characters was absolutely phenomenal. Adina was probably my favorite of the contestants because she was so complex. I also found the scenes with Lady Bird to be rather compelling, even though I predicted the plot twist with her character.
All in all, Beauty Queens was a really fun read that was hilarious and tackled important issues. If you need a laugh, definitely check it out.