Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

I finished this book last night (and for those of you who voted, this was one of the poll winners for July). I’ve been having trouble trying to fit all the fabulous-ness of this book into an articulate review, but I’ll try.

So the book is about an airplane of 50 Miss Teen Dream pageant contestants flying overseas for a photo-shoot and whatnot, and then their plane crashes on a remote island. The prologue does an AWESOME job at describing the moments before the crash, as well as establishing that the U.S. is run by “The Corporation” and they kind of rule everything, and they want to promote a vain, materialistic, dumbed-down society.

At first the girls all seem stupid and annoying, though funnily so. There are about 12 to 15 survivors, and the majority of them are more worried about practicing their routines than trying to survive, because they’re convinced that they’ll be saved soon enough. (I know, I know. It sounds just like Lost. They even make a funny reference to Lost in the book.)

The chapters are interspersed with “fun fact sheets” about each of the main character survivors, as well as glimpses into some members of The Corporation and some really hilarious commercial interruptions. Soon the characters realize that rescue is taking too long and they start to take a more proactive role in trying to survive – building huts, finding food and water, etc. And we learn more about each character – her history, hopes, dreams, feelings, etc. There’s a lot more to these girls than you’d think, and they start to bond over they’re struggles to survive as well as their feelings about pageanting and being a girl. How they feel like they always have something to apologize for, or always feel the need to be the absolute best. How their parents push them to pageant. They develop a strong sense of togetherness, and together they have to battle like hell to make it off the island.

I grew to genuinely like all of the main characters, but in particular my favorites were Adina, Tiara, and Mary Lou.

This book is basically a kick-ass promotion of feminism. It takes satirical jabs at society and the way marketing in the media is aimed at girls to make them feel too skinny/fat/ugly so that they buy more and more products. It makes fun of pop culture and reality TV. The book tackles tough issues for younger girls such as being gay, being transgender, feeling stupid, the idea of a girl needing to be “pure”, racism, self-esteem, female bonding, safe sex, etc. But Bray does all this in such a great way. It’s a really fun read, but at the same time it’s thought-provoking and smart.

Anyways, I can go on and on about how much I enjoyed this book. It was so good that when I finished, I wanted to skim through it again and relive all my favorite parts. I tweeted lines that struck me as amusing while I read. And this will definitely be one of the next books that I buy. It’s already on my re-read list for next year. I hope it can make it permanently onto summer reading lists everywhere.

So, you know. Go read it.

Sarah Says: 5 stars. Awesome.

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5 comments

  1. YAY! I've been looking forward to this book ever since I read her Gemma Doyle series, which was awesome as well! It sounds great! I'm so jealous of you for having a library that carries a copy! I just realised I speak in exclamation marks.Anyway, thanks for the review πŸ™‚ I'm even more excited about reading it than I was before. (see, I can do without the exclamation mark! Or maybe I can't…)

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  2. I was kind of on the fence about this book. It seemed like it would be funny, but I can't characters that are basically too stupid to live. However, after seeing you quote it on twitter and now your review I'm going to have to read it.

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