Rummanah Aasi
  I've been a Libba Bray fan ever since I read and loved her Gemma Doyle series. Each of her books are completely different from one another, which shows how versatile she is as a writer. I've had the great opportunity to meet her in person and she is genuinely awesome. When I first heard about Beauty Queens I knew I had to get my hands on a copy of the book and read. As a side note, for information about the giveaway winners please scroll down this post.

Description: When a plane crash strands thirteen teen beauty contestants on a mysterious island, they struggle to survive, to get along with one another, to combat the island's other diabolical occupants, and to learn their dance numbers in case they are rescued in time for the competition.

Review: Beauty Queens is a satire done right. With extremely witty and spot-on social commentary, surreal plot elements, and feminist themes Bray's Beauty Queens is a book of many layers. At the book's surface level is it modern rendition of Golding's Lord of the Flies with sparkles, lip gloss, and a cast full of caricatures.  The plot itself is outlandish as we follow a group of beauty pageant contestants stranded on a remote island after a plane crash. Undaunted by disaster, the teens hone their survival skills as they practice dance routines and pageant interviews, while a ruthless corporation secretly plans to use them as pawns in an arms deal with an insane dictator.
  Beneath the absurdity and the laughs lies a thought-provoking exploration of society's expectations for how young women should look, feel, think, and act. Wry footnotes lampoon the media and pop culture. Hilariously scripted and well timed "commercial breaks" interrupt the narrative, leading readers to question the pervasiveness of self-improvement products that make consumers feel inadequate. There were many times where I laughed out loud and shook my head in agreement with the various products advertised. Bray's off beat humor shines in Beauty Queens. While some readers thought the breaks were annoying, I absolutely loved them and thought they demonstrated her purpose quite well.    
    There is quite a large cast of characters in Beauty Queens and I was a bit worried that not all of them would get a change to shine, but thankfully Bray rises admirably to the challenge. Each pageant contestant is given a confessional of sorts that exposes their true personality, conveying both strengths and insecurities  Not only do we get to hear their distinct voices, but we are shown how each girl possesses much more than surface-level beauty, and even the most stereotypical ditzy girl offers unique and unexpected strength. Readers from all backgrounds will identify with the representation of various religions, ethnicities, and sexual orientations among the characters. There are moments when you are cheering these girls on the sidelines especially when they embrace their own individuality and drop their facade. I love the empowering theme of self-acceptance and the affirming message that women should not underestimate themselves or others makes in this novel and that's why it is a standout to me and one of the best satires I've read in a very long time.
  As a side note, I've heard from many readers that Beauty Queens is a bit hard to read due to the "commercial breaks" so I would suggest you look for the audiobook which is narrated by Bray herself and she does a marvelous job. The audiobook might be easier to follow.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Words of Caution: There is some strong language, frank discussions about sex, and a small non-explicit sex scene. Recommended for strong Grade 8 readers and up.

If you like this book try: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart, So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld, Feed by M.T. Anderson


GIVEAWAY WINNERS!

  Unfortunately, last week got the best of me and I wasn't able to post the winners for the Freak and War Stories giveaways. Thank you to the authors for stopping by the blog to talk about their books and for their generosity. Thank you to all of the readers who entered the giveaway. The winners were all chosen by Random.org. Congrats goes out to Elizabeth from Nightmare on Bookstreet, Suzy, and Bn100! Winner have already been confirmed and notified. 
6 Responses
  1. Annette Says:

    Excellent review. I don't think some younger readers will get the satire....I think some older ones didn't either.


  2. The audiobook *is* fabulous. Libba Bray manages to give each girl her own distinct voice, and I think this does really help with following along. So glad you loved this one, Rummanah! :)


  3. I can't wait to read Beauty Queens. I went to Libba Bray's signing in Salt Lake last month and bought Beauty Queens. I've been meaning to read it for years.


  4. Jenny Says:

    I've only read Bray's The Diviners, but it had a huge cast of characters as well, and I thought she did a brilliant job managing all of them. Normally large casts are problematic for me, but she managed to write them all so well, so I'm thinking it will be the same with this book:)

    And how cool that she narrated the audiobook herself! Thanks for your thoughts Rummanah!


  5. I've been trying to decide whether this might be a Maja book or not for quite a while now and I think your review finally pushed me in the right direction. I guess Bray always has a large cast of characters, but I loved it in The Diviners and I'll probably love it here.
    Great review, Rummanah!


  6. Rummanah, I had no idea that this was a satire! I've actually never read any of Bray's books and since I don't really like the cover or am a fan of survival stories, I figured this one wasn't for me. I think you've convinced me to change my mind and add it to my wishlist. Oh, and I loved Lord of the Flies back when I read it in high school.


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