Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Review: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Beauty and brains!

Even though this book has been sitting in my BEA box of goodies since May, and other bloggers have raved about it, and Scholastic's This Is Teen team has been gently nudging me to read it, I expected something completely different.  I thought I was picking up a light, humorous book that poked fun at pageants, highlighting the objectification of women.  Instead, what I got was a book that ...well, I'm still trying to wrap my head around it all! 

Laugh-out-loud hysterical, BEAUTY QUEENS is a satirical novel of empowerment, independence, love, self-actualization, sisterhood, overcoming obstacles, and the issues of society itself, yet it's cleverly disguised as an over the top sit-com, complete with Corporation commercials and public service announcements.  Oh, you are so clever, Libba Bray!  

Reality show pirates...lesbians...depilatory cream bombs...sign language...

After surviving a plane crash on a supposedly deserted island, Teen Dream pageant contestants found themselves having to survive in a harsh environment - and that includes their leader, Miss Texas, Taylor Rene Krystal Hawkins.  Miss Texas is the ultimate Teen Dream contestant, and leader of their motley tribe of beauty queens.  Also on the island: Miss New Hampshire, Adina Greenberg; Miss Nebraska, Mary Lou Novak; Miss Michigan, Jennifer Huberman; Miss Rhode Island, Petra West; Miss California, Shanti Sing; Miss Illinois, Sosie Simmons; and poor Miss New Mexico who has a tray stuck in her head.

Yes, she has a TRAY...stuck in her HEAD.

Each beauty queen has a story to tell, punctuated by her very own Teen Dream questionnaire.  What we learn early on, is that each beauty queen also has a secret to hide, whether it be an issue of sexuality, race, gender, disability or feminism.  Just when I was sure that Ms. Bray was about to cross into that dreaded zone of melodrama and predictability, I remembered that these issues are very real in our current society.  And, she managed to surprise me at each turn, giving me a virtual smack in the face.

I seriously could talk about this book for days.  Each character deserves her own review! 

Watch out readers, just when you're giggling away, you might find yourself learning a thing or two!On a personal note, I have avoided Young Adult lit that deals with GLBT topics, because I was afraid of inadvertently being insensitive to an issue that deserves the utmost care. Instead, I always left it up to the other YA bloggers. I don't want to ruin any of the book for you, but let's just say, I am so glad that this was a part of the book.

I have heard great things about the audiobook version of BEAUTY QUEENS, narrated by author Libba Bray herself.  I must tell you, read the first few pages. If you can't "hear" the sarcasm required for this book to work, I suggest you fire up the iPod and go for the audiobook. 

My apologies to Scholastic and Libba Bray - I am so late to this party, but it sure it nice to be here!

Book Extras:
This Is Teen - website, on Facebook, on Twitter
Libba Bray - website, on Facebook, on Twitter

About the Book:
  • Reading level: Ages 14 and up
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press (May 24, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439895979
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439895972

  • About the Author:
    Libba Bray is the New York Times bestselling author of the Beauty Queens and the Printz Award-winning Going Bovine, as well as The Gemma Doyle Trilogy, which includes the books A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, and The Sweet Far Thing.
    She has contributed short stories to the anthologies Restless Dead, 21 Proms, Up All Night, Geektastic, Eternal Kiss, Vacations from Hell, Zombies Vs. Unicorns and Steampunk!: An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories.

    *Disclosure:  A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.


    Zibilee said...

    I really, really want to read this one, and am hoping that I can get my hands on a copy very soon. It sounds like a really fun book that is still relevant. Great review today!

    bermudaonion said...

    This sounds like so much fun!

    reviewsbylola said...

    I originally didn't even consider reading this book but after reading all the reviews I can't wait to get my hands on it!

    Meg @ A Bookish Affair said...

    Still haven't gotten to this one yet1

    Canada said...

    I picked up this book on a whim because the premise seemed interesting. A Great and Terrible Beauty is one of the most beautiful historical and gothic novels I have read in a while. The story enthralled me from beginning to end. Sixteen-year-old Gemma Doyle is different from the other girls at the London boarding school she lives in after her mother's tragic and strange death in India. In addition to not having the conformist mentality that girls of her class and station are trained to have, Gemma has a deep, dark problem that she does not know how to control.

    More Information on Alaska Salmon Fishing Luxury Lodge said...

    Your review has sold it to me - I've heard about it but not been really sure if it was my kind of thing - this has kind of changed my mind!

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