Title: Beauty Queens
Author: Libba Bray
Release Date: May 24, 2011
Page Number: 390
Publisher: Scholastic Press
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
I am very torn about Beauty Queens, because at certain times, I love the feminist idea of the book. It was oozing with so much girl power that I was cheering along and loving Libba Bray every minute of it, because let’s face it: I’m a liberal woman. However, as I read along, I found the novel inappropriately random and I couldn’t help but scoff at the cheap jokes.
Honestly, I DIDN’T laugh at this novel once and that’s pretty weird because getting me to laugh is as easy as saying “hi!” but I didn’t chuckle, I just shrugged. Whenever there are footnotes in this novel (because there are a TON), I skimmed them because I just found them a distraction and they took away the minimal focus I had for the story.
What I really enjoyed in this novel is the idea that women aren’t helpless and we can do anything, especially if we’re in dire situations! This book definitely gives women confidence, because throughout the novel, the women in the Miss Teen Dream Pageant always got back up whenever they got washed away by the roaring waves of the sea. It also showed that women are very resourceful, and we can kick butt when we need to.
However, I am really torn about the next issue that I am about to discuss which are the characters. Personally, I love the diversity because I am so tired of just reading about one character. My personal favorite is Taylor Rene Krystal Hawkins, the overbearing leader of the survivors. I love her confidence and her stubbornness, because we definitely need more girls like her. But, as I’ve said before, I had certain issues with the characters, mainly because everything was taken too lightly for them. I understand that this novel is light and fun, but the inner conflicts that these women had to face (racism, sexuality, self-esteem, etc.) are not. I feel that Libba Bray just shrugged her shoulders at this issue and said, “Imma write something funny instead!” which I felt took away from the novel and was just inappropriate.
I really didn’t care about the pirates near the end half of the novel because I just didn’t care about the novel anymore. It got too WEIRD for me and not because I had any issues with the conflicts in this book, but the way they were presented bothered me.
The ending annoyed me, because I just DON’T get it! It was too random and way too childish that I just decided not to care, and although I hate to do this, periodically throughout the novel I felt compelled to skip a few pages (the classified chapters).
All in all Beauty Queens has redeeming qualities, but failed to showcase them. I find that the comic relief was too distracting and the reader’s focus was definitely pried from what the story was really trying to convey, if it had any at all.