Title: Beauty Queens
Author: Libba Bray
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Format/Pages: Hardcover/390 pages
The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream Pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea, crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner. What’s a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program – or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan – or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up?—book jacket description
Beauty Queens was absolutely one of the best books I’ve read. It was original and Libba Bray didn’t take herself too seriously as she wrote it. I expected it to be darker, much like her other book A Great and Terrible Beauty, but it was much livelier and had more funny moments. The book drew you in instantly, so you don’t have to worry about waiting around for it to get interesting, unlike some other books Bray has written.
She made each contestant have their own identity or quirk or personality that immediately sucked you in, rooting for the character the whole way. And although there are many characters in the book, it was difficult for me to choose just one I loved the most. And each girl had their own problem: either they were hated, had a wild side, had a secret that could crush their chances, were too stupid, or just had a tray stuck in their head. I couldn’t put the book down as Bray took us deeper into the girls’ lives, giving us a taste of what they go through. How she transposed their talents and lives onto the island was unbelievable, giving each girl a certain quality that just added to my love for this book. All these characters were so diverse, that’s it hard for me to choose one for my favorite.
The island itself was different. She doesn’t go into the background of the island too much, but that made it even better, because it gave the setting a sense of mystery. (She even threw in a Lost reference, which I found hilarious.) There is the volcano on the island that all the girls are afraid will erupt, but isn’t even a real, active volcano after all. Inside are employees of
’s government, “The Corporation,” and allies of the book’s villain, Ladybird Hope (a Miss Teen Dream winner). Ladybird isn’t like any other villain, she is all glitter and nails and pretty. She pretends to be on your side when she really isn’t. You hate her, but almost love her at the exact same time. America
Bray certainly presented the perfect book for the “finding yourself” message, her characters growing stronger and more independent as the book goes on. It may be a little racy in some parts, sex being a main point for the plot line of one character, but it isn’t so bad that you need to hide the book from your younger children. It was one of the most interesting books I’ve read in a long time and it was hard for me to put it down as I read. It’s a book about finding your strength, imperfection, and surviving on a strange, desolate island. It will have you laughing more than once and have you on the edge of your seat almost all the way through.