Monday, June 13, 2011

Review of Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Beauty Queens
Libba Bray
390 pages
May 2011

Beauty Queens is the story of a plane full of Miss Teen Dream contestants that crashes on a seemingly deserted island.  Of course, all of the adults have died,  but chaos is averted by Miss Texas, who takes control of the situation and starts to organize the girls. The book starts in the POV of Adina, who admits right away that she thinks the Miss Teen Dream pageant is stupid and she wants to throw the whole thing, but I really liked that it didn't stay in her POV.  We get to experience the POV of many different girls, which is really cool- throughout the story, we find out each girl's secrets and how they perceive the world.  Reality TV pirates and a psycho dictator soon join the story, which add to the humour level significantly.

Throughout the book, social commentary is weaved in through "Commercial Breaks" and foot notes.  Readers will enjoy seeing Sarah Palin represented (I'm now even more terrified of her after reading this book), as well as Justin Timberlake, popping up in an unexpected place (at least, I think it's Justin Timberlake, haha).

Libba Bray really uses this book to create a space for dialogue about the oppression of women, female sexuality, LGBTQI issues, racial stereotypes and identity formation, how we perceive intelligence, and even environmental issues.  At first, it felt really preachy, but it evens out  when you realize that the book isn't Adina "Man-Hater" vs. everyone else, and each girl has her own strengths and weaknesses.  The book even made me think about my life- such as my anxiety about how I look at the gym.

I give this book 5 stars and I recommend it as an excellent YA beach read.  It's full of hot girls and guys, heart-pumping action, and a hilarious pirate captain who reminds me of Russell Brand.

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