Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Review of Beauty Queens

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]
Rating:  2.5  out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:  Any female who could use a pick-me-up
High point: The resourcefulness of the Miss Teen Dreamers
Low point: There were a few things...
Reader maturity: 13+

While I enjoyed Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle trilogy, I didn't have the same experience with Beauty Queens.

When I first started reading Beauty Queens, I thought I was in for a real treat. It was funny, wry and sarcastic with loads of thinly veiled pop culture references poking fun at both society and its mindless entertainment. There was mystery and an omnipresent sense of dystopia that held eerie similarities to the world as we know it.

And then Beauty Queens developed an agenda.

Now, I don't mind a book with a message. However, I prefer that message to be distributed via food for thought. I like books that make me ask, "Why?" and then allow me to draw my own conclusions. Beauty Queens forces its lesson on the reader, to my irritation.

Much as I disliked the agenda, the end of the book was more about action and adventure, which made for an engaging and humorous conclusion. Libba Bray has the gift of wit, and I'd like to see more light-hearted works from her in the future--sans the soapbox.

Though there were some things that I took issue with, I enjoyed the girl power message and the underlying theme that girls (and women) need to stop living up to impossible expectations and decide their own fate.

Title:  Beauty Queens
Author:  Libba Bray
Genre:   Fiction - Contemporary,
Year:   2011
Book Source:  Won from Stories & Sweeties

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