Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Take pure silly fun, mix in some witty satire, and wrap it all up in a sparkly tiara and you have Libba Bray’s “Beauty Queens”. This book is over the top, crazy and absolutely priceless. I enjoyed every minute and found myself laughing out loud (which I rarely do) throughout.

It’s the story of a group of competitive girls, stranded on a remote island, forced to figure out how to survive. They were vying for the Teen Dream crown, but now it’s for their lives. Meanwhile, there is something fishy going on. One of the girls spots lights coming from the other side of the island and also - why hasn’t anyone rescued them yet? In this world, things are run by “The Corporation” from what you watch on TV to what detergent you buy. Scattered throughout the book are little ads, interviews, and other randomness related to “The Corporation” and its products. How is “The Corporation” involved and can the girls survive without hot boys, lip gloss and flat irons? Well, you’ll just have to read to find out.

Before I go on, I have a confession to make. I’m a former teen pageant girl. I was Miss Wisconsin Teen America for two consecutive Miss Teen America pageants. Yeah, I’m that cool. Here’s a picture to prove it!

So, this book connected with me. It reminded me of the adventures I went through as a teen. I never really went any further with pageantry, but I went to a lot of them during “my reign”. Libba Bray’s characters did remind me of some of the interesting people I met during my pageant days. Though most of the girls I met were incredibly sweet and intelligent young ladies (and are still my friends today!), I met my fair share of characters too. Ahh.. the good ol’ days.

Libba Bray’s word play is brilliant. She plays it overly sweet with a bitter aftertaste. I love the character of “The Corporation” telling the story and the little footnotes, commercial breaks, and interviews thrown in throughout the novel. Ms. Bray also really plays up pop culture stereotypes. There is your smarty pants, your goody two-shoes, your lesbian, your transgender, etc. They are all portrayed in here. Yes, they are all pretty simple, but when dealing with a large cast in a satirical young adult novel, that’s bound to happen. I was browsing around online and saw some people bashing on the stereotypes. Um, it’s an over-the-top comedy, people. Take a chill pill. You need to come into this book looking for fun and cynicism. If that isn’t your cup of tea, then move on, bucko! This book is NOT for you. It also deals with issues like drugs, violence, and sex so be sure to review it before passing it along to younger readers. I'm not really sure they'd get a lot of the satire either. Best to keep this for your older teen and adult readers.

I could go on and on about how much I enjoyed reading "Beauty Queens". This book is seriously too much fun and if you have an awesome sense of humor, like me (ha!), you should check out this book today. You will get to learn about fantastic products such as “Lady ‘Stache Off” and read great song lyrics like “I’m your emo eunuch”. Seriously, does it get any better than that?

I received a copy of “Beauty Queens” by Libba Bray from the publisher for review. It is scheduled to be released to be released today (May 24th) by Scholastic.

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