Sunday, May 22, 2011

Beauty Queens, by Libba Bray

When the plane carrying the Miss Teen Dream contestants crashes on a remote island it might seem like a pretty dismal situation, but even a few deaths won't get these pageant pros down for long.  It's a constant competition and these ladies aren't going to stop applying lip gloss just because they're all alone on an island!  They've got to keep their skills sharp, their routines polished and everybody alive and well until their grand rescue.  Beauty Queens is one part Miss America, one part Survivorman and one part prime-time sitcom (insert your favorite one here).  It comes complete with footnotes and extras that poke fun at some current culture trends by cleverly renaming them and being vague enough that they could truly be about several different people/products.  I found those tidbits funny, cute and a nice change of pace from the standard style of writing I usually read.  These Teen Dreamers aren't going to just simply survive either, they're going to do it in style.  They decide to keep feeding their souls as well as their bodies as part of their survival plan and what's more satisfying than winning the hut decorating contest?  Nothing, if you're a pageant queen stuck on an island in the middle of nowhere!  It's not all just fashion and life-or-death problem-solving though, because the island, the pageant directors and even the leader of a small country are connected in twisted and surprising ways.  The girls are actually in more danger than they can possibly know.  As they navigate the uncharted waters of island survival they also learn a lot about themselves and each other.  When faced with issues of mortality, people often reprioritize and the Miss Teen Dream ladies begin to examine their true purpose in life.  What is there beyond pageants?  What inspires them?  What impact do they want to have on the world when and if they're ever rescued?  I would recommend Beauty Queens to any fans of pageants, survival, adventure, dark humor, Libba Bray, coming-of-age stories or LGBT books.

Favorite things:  the diverse cast of characters, the laugh-out-loud moments, the positive examples of female strength and ingenuity, the inventive ways Libba Bray used pageant skills as survival skills, the funny commercials and footnotes added in, the writing in general, the pace near the end of the book that kept me engrossed and the fight scenes were fun as well.

Criticisms:  the pace near the beginning was a little slow, a comment was made about Colorado that was untrue and annoyed me since I'm from this great state (a character said there is only one African-American in Colorado but, in fact, we are very diverse so, I just wanted to state that for the record), the alternating perspectives made my focus feel scattered at times and it was hard to keep track of all the characters since there were so many. 

Overall:  4 out of 5 stars!  If I came away with one main thought from this book it's that I want to read more from Libbra Bray now.

Note:  I was able to read this book as part of an ARC tour in exchange for my honest review.  I did not pay for this book, however that did not affect my opinion or review in any way.


  1. I'm so glad to read a good review! I have been wondering about it. I really want to read a book by Libba... I think I'll start with this one.

    Thanks for the review!

    Jennifer of Little Shelf

  2. You're welcome and thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment. :)

  3. I've been seeing this book EVERYWHERE and have been hesitant on if I want to read it or not. Thanks to your good review I think I'll be adding it to my list! Glad you enjoyed the book!

    Jamie @ Bookerella

  4. Thanks for the review I cannot wait for this book to come out. I am a huge fan of Libba Bray, especially her Gemma Doyle Trilogy! Did you have a favorite character in Beauty Queens?

  5. Camille, Taylor was my favorite, because she went crazy after being poisoned and she was such a wild card for the rest of the book. I especially loved her decision at the end!

  6. Hmmm, I've seen this book here and there and while I am not sure how much I like the concept...I might like to see the interactions among the characters. Great review!


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