14 October 2011

Review: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Title: Beauty Queens
Author: Libba Bray
Publisher: Scholastic Pres
Published: 24th May 2011
Source: Own Copy

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?

Welcome to the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Your tour guide? None other than Libba Bray, the hilarious, sensational, Printz Award-winning author of A Great and Terrible Beauty and Going Bovine. The result is a novel that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you never see beauty the same way again. - From Goodreads

So I wanted to read this book for a couple of reasons, firstly I absolutely love the cover and secondly I thought the story sounded great.

I remember at school Lord of the Flies was the first book we read in class that I could not get enough of. The premise of  a group of strangers being stranded on a desert island and having to fend for themselves is one of my favorites. There are so many different stories which can be explored with on top of this base storyline. What will they do for food? Is the island hostile? Will they all get along or will there be tension within the survivors? Will they be the only humans on the island? Do they have the knowledge to get everything they need to survive? Will any of them go crazy due to the situation? I could continue asking questions on and on and on... I am an absolutely massive Survivor fan.

I was expecting that Beauty Queens would feel a bit like reading Lord of the Flies, but I found that this was not the case. I felt that there was a lot more menace to the whole story with a weird alt-reality government and a wannabe president who wants to do deals with a psycho dictator who likes to dress as Elvis. All in all it seemed far more like Lost than Lord of the Flies. I had no problem with this and I think the alt-reality lent itself to some unexpected story twists.

So the deal with the alt-reality is that there seems to be a single overseeing body called The Corporation who are kind of like a national puppet master. They seem to have control over most things including pharmaceuticals, beauty products, clothes, weaponry etc... The story is interrupted every so often with "Commercials", which often made me laugh out loud, for products, programming or facts about the surviving Beauty Queens. I also got the impression that within this society there was massive pressure for women to conform to what is perceived as beautiful and that men could do as they liked.

I really enjoyed this book and by about halfway through some of the characters which had annoyed me to begin with had grown on me and I was rooting for them all. For me the real enjoyment in this book was the details, like the boy band song titles, or some of the male characters who were introduced later on in the story, however at times this could slow the flow of the story. My experience of this book may have been helped by the fact that I read most of this book on holiday lying on the beach.


  1. Jealous that you were on the beach, because when I finally get around to reading this- it'll be snowing here!! :)

  2. Hopefully reading about being trapped on a desert island will help you forget about the snow outside!! :)