From bestselling, Printz Award-winning author Libba Bray, the story of a plane of beauty pageant contestants that crashes on a desert island.
Teen beauty queens. A “Lost”-like island. Mysteries and dangers. No access to emall. And the spirit of fierce, feral competition that lives underground in girls, a savage brutality that can only be revealed by a journey into the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Oh, the horror, the horror! Only funnier. With evening gowns. And a body count.
Beauty Queens opens with a plane full of beauty queens crashing on a tropical island. So automatically, I’m thinking, ok, Lord of the Flies with beauty queens, and of course Lost pops into my head. Beauty Queens is neither. It is, however, a satire, and like all good satire, it gets to the heart of some really important issues without being preachy or smacking you in the face with its “message”. The Teen Dream Pageant girls have arrived, and soon that poor tropical island isn’t going to know what hit it. The lead teen queen Taylor immediately takes charge, rallying the girls and convincing them that the best way to deal with this is to keep practicing their talents, and never lose site of the Teen Dream goal, because “you never know who’s watching”. Adina is the sarcastic voice of reason, who’s not quite down with the Teen Dream party line, and has joined the pageant as an expose for her school newspaper. As the girls band together to survive on the island, we get insight into each girl in turn, and they will discover things about themselves that will change the way they think forever. Throw in man-eating flowers, quicksand, pirates, and corporate espionage, and you’ve got a recipe for fun!
Libba Bray tackles subjects like sexuality, self-worth, and independence with a deft touch, and wry humour, and her writing is never heavy handed. Every day young girls are bombarded by the media, society, and their own families telling them how they should act, think, look, and feel, and Ms. Bray highlights the importance of being ourselves, and never second guessing what our hearts tell us is right. The narrative is interspersed with Miss Teen Dream Fun Facts Pages, questionnaires filled out by each girl. All will make you laugh and some will break your heart. I laughed all the way through Beauty Queens, but as I got to know each girl, and read their stories, I fell in love with these girls, and they will worm their manicured, coiffed, and primped selves into your heart too, one by one. Sprinkled throughout are commercial breaks for some, er, interesting products, and there’s a sub plot involving the all-powerful Corporation (which also runs the Teen Dream Beauty Pageant) providing arms for the evil dictator of a small country. When the all-male, all-hot, cast of the reality show Captains Bodacious washes up on the island, things get really interesting…
This one was a quick read and a lot of fun! I’m always up for what Libba Bray has to offer!