Beauty Queens

Think Miss America Pageant meets Lost meets Pirates of Penzance meets Mission Impossible.

Written by Libba Bray

Grandpa once but my 5 year old son a pink car. We could never decide if it was for a boy or a girl. My boy would not play with it since it was pink and the girls would not play with it since it was a car!

It is what I kept thinking about during this whole book.

Plane crashes, survival, James Bond type secret lairs inside of volcanoes, pirates, secret weapons… for the boys.

Beauty queens, make up, nails shoes, self awareness, sexuality, relationships and dialogue for the girls.

Libba is very creative in her use of commercials between chapters and use of contestant applications to introduce some the characters. Her humor is very updated and plays a lot into current society, including reality TV.

Review by Keith Smedberg, Olympus High Media Center
Rating: ★★★★✩ (4 stars)
Interest Level: High School

Libba Bray does it again as only she can. Beauty Queens is a satirical, tongue-in-cheek, “Can the dumb blondes do it?” kind of book. Think Miss America Pageant meets Lost meets Pirates of Penzance meets Mission Impossible.

The plot of the book kicks off when an airplane carrying Teen Dream Beauty Pageant contestants crashes onto a deserted island (or is it?) The girls must take stock of their resources: teeth bleaching trays, padded bras, safety razors, bobby pins, thongs, jars of Lady ‘Stache Off, hot rollers, and loads of makeup. They learn valuable lessons: Do not speak ill of the dead, no matter how hideous their fashion sense. And they spend their time accessorizing their grass huts, digging for grubs (even if they are vegetarian, and it totally messes up their manicure.) They stave off hunger by catching fish with curling irons. Above all else, they must be prepared with their song and dance number, talent, and interview for when they are rescued and the Pageant is held. And with so many competitors out of the way, the survivors chance to win is better than ever.

And just when they are getting used to fending for themselves, the pirates show up, with an entirely new set of problems. In the meantime there are men in black T-shirts watching the girls. Men who have a secret hideout in a volcano! What would Ladybird Hope (the most famous Miss Teen Dream who ever lived) do?

My favorite parts of the book were the product placement ads and the commercial breaks. I don’t believe I have ever read a book with commercial breaks, but this story is brought to us by THE CORPORATON, who sponsors the Miss Teen Dream Pageant.

There are a dozen or so girls who survive the crash and each one has a unique personality and platform. Even though there are a lot of characters, it was pretty easy to keep everybody straight.

Word of warning- there is a lot of stuff in this book that makes it definitely for high school only. One of the girls is transsexual (really a boy), there are lesbians, and lots of sexual tension and situations.

Review by Terrie Bishop, Academy Park Elementary Media Center
Rating: ★★★½✩ (3.5 stars)
Interest Level: Grades 9-12

Libba Bray – Official Website

Beauty Queens
Written by Libba Bray
22 cm.
Release Date: May 24, 2011
ISBN: 9780439895972 (hardcover)

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