Saturday, June 11, 2011

Review: Beauty Queens

Author: Libba Bray
Release Date: Already out!
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Add it: Goodreads

From bestselling, Printz Award-winning author Libba Bray, the story of a plane of beauty pageant contestants that crashes on a desert island.
Teen beauty queens. A "Lost"-like island. Mysteries and dangers. No access to email. And the spirit of fierce, feral competition that lives underground in girls, a savage brutality that can only be revealed by a journey into the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Oh, the horror, the horror! Only funnier. With evening gowns. And a body count

Oh my goodness. I don't even know where to start with this crazy rollercoaster of a book. For fans of Bray's Gemma Doyle trilogy - this is 276% different from those books, so don't go in with any expectations. However, if you're read Going Bovine, you'll be slightly more prepared for what to expect. Beauty Queens throws us straight into the aftermath after a plane, carrying a group of girls participating in the Miss Teen Dream Pageant, crashes on a seemingly deserted island. The pilot and camera crew are all dead, as are a few of the girls. Perhaps you're thinking 'oh what a grim way to start the story!' - then maybe you'll think it sadistic of me for laughing within the very first chapter. But with this motley collection of ridiculously awesome and hilarious characters, you're guaranteed to never face a dull moment.

I honestly cannot pick a favourite character. Petra? Adina?  Jennifer? Or maybe Miss Taylor Rene Krystal Hawkins? Everyone, I think, can find some part of themselves within at least one character and relate to the issues they face. Whether battling with sexuality, craving acceptance or struggling with your identity. Or maybe you can relate to an international terrorist with a fetish for the Sarah Palin-type and a stuffed lemur as his General. Regardless of who you connect with, it's hard not to love all these characters. Even Momo B. ChaCha (aforementioned terrorist. Also harbouring an Elvis obsession.) and Agent Jones (but only after he embraced his inner Man Flower).

I don't really want to delve too deeply into the plot, because I think that it's best enjoyed having all these hilarious scenes and events take you by surprise. But there are evil mastermind plots and Cooperation's dealing in shady business. And let's just say, if I were those girls, I'd never use Lady 'Stache Off again. I think I'd prefer to go the old school route with a razor while the hit song "Let Me Shave Your Legs Tonight, Girl" plays in the background. More peace of mind.

There are quite a few commercials, product placement and footnotes scattered throughout the book which were just as much fun as the rest of the book to read and help highlight the ridiculous exploits of media and cooperation's in our world today. Libba mocks the many pop culture trends that have gripped our society - boybands, the influx of products we see lining our shelves to make us look better and ultimately 'be' better people because hey, isn't beauty EVERYTHING? Who are you if you're not looking your best! Not to mention the obsession people have with reality shows these days and being in the spotlight for the stupidest of reasons.

And I think Libba shows exactly how we judge people without getting to know them. The girls at first seem to be vapid, clueless, pretty young things and you have to wonder how on earth they'll survive on the island. But as we grow to learn more about each beauty queen and their layers were peeled back, we saw each had  hidden depths, secrets, desires and insecurities. And as each day passes where they're forced to fend for themselves to ensure survival, we see as each girl reaches her potential and comes into her own. Although upon arrival of the Bodacious teen-rock-star pirates, what did I do? Immediately make judgements of the characters. I apologise, Captain Sinjin St. Sinjin. I thought you were a jackass. But dude, you rock. Though admittedly, you did act like an ass when you first arrived.

I really can't write a proper review to give this book justice. It is freaking hilarious. And there are so many themes presented, so many endearing and utterly hilarious characters and such a brilliantly crafted novel, that it would take me more words than blogger allows to fully give this book the kudos it deserves. Beauty Queens is everything I could ask for all in the one novel. A smattering of romance, evil mastermind plots, girl power, laughs, laughs and  more laughs and most importantly: fantastic characters (and yes, many are total stereotypes, but this is the kind of novel where stereotypes WORK).

I want to spend a day inside Libba Bray's head. I don't think I'd want come back to reality. I suppose it depends on your type of humour, as to whether or not you'll enjoy this. This book IS over the top, outlandish, outrageous and ten shades of crazy, but that's what is so uniquely great about it. If you like satires that poke fun at the media and a laugh-out-loud, embrace-your-inner-YOU story, then I highly recommend you pick up a copy of this book. Genius.

Rating: 5/5

Beauty Queens is absolutely FULL of quotable quotes... especially the funny ones. But I'll leave you with one that is so very true. So thank you, Libba Bray, I'm cutting the 'unnecessary' sorrys out of my vocabulary!

"Why do girls always feel like they have to apologize for giving an opinion or taking up space in the world? Have you ever noticed that?" Nicole asked. "You go on websites and some girl leaves a post and if it's longer than three sentences or she's expressing her thoughts about some topic, she usually ends with, 'Sorry for the rant' or 'That may be dumb, but that's what I think." 


  1. Awesome review-- I'm SO excited to read this one now! I actually pre-ordered the book, but Amazon *still* hasn't delivered it. (Dumbos.) Love Libba Bray and Going Bovine, so this one is going to be great! Glad you enjoyed it. :)

  2. I wasn't going to bother with this until I read your review! I thought it would be completely different to how you described - I didn't realise it'd be so funny. But it actually sounds hilarious, and I really want to read it now! Thanks for the review, this is another book to add to my wishlist :P.

  3. I'm so curious about these quotable quotes that you're talking about! I haven't read any of Libba's books but if I'm going to try soon - I'll try this one! It sounds amazing! I've read lots of amazing reviews and everyone seems so excited about it! I'm looking forward to the characters and the humor! Great review!

  4. 5 out of 5. Must be great read. I usually don't like product placement in novels, but I guess it fits with the overall theme of the book, commercial consumption. I haven't read a funny novel in a long time, this might have to go on my summer reading list.

  5. 'Lady Stache Off'?? LOL This sounds waaaay different than the Gemma Doyle series and a heck of a lot funnier. Definitely going to read this one when I can! And awesome review, you totally had me grinning like an idiot xP

  6. Gah! I wanna read this so badly! Every review I've seen gives me more tantalizing details than the last! But alas, I am in Spain where I haven't been able to find books in English and the wifi is non-existent, so no eBooks. But thank you for another awesome Beauty Queens review! It's making me so exited for all the books I'll read in the fall.

  7. This sounds SO GOOD! I've wanted to read it for a while but you know my life is currently being ruined by school. I swear, this summer is going to be jam packed with read and blogging!

    Amazing quotes, you say? Damn, I'm getting all excited! And I can see that this book left you utterly speechless. I think I'm going to enjoy just as much as you!

    "Let Me Shave Your Legs Tonight, Girl?" AWWWW YEAHHH! SOUNDS GOOD ALREADY!

  8. Unfortunately I hated this book. :(

    Nonetheless a great review.

  9. Actually...I didn't HATE it just DISLIKED it. It was the average - a good and bad thing - book.

  10. Okay, I'm starting to see what Honey means.. I really like your reviews. They're thought-out, detailed and and well-written. Thanks! :)

    I actually just won Beauty Queens today from another blog and I'm so excited. I've wanted to read it for a while (I love Libba Bray) and this review only helps that. I'm generally a fan of the extreme, crazy situations so hopefully that aspect won't turn me off the book like I've seen it do to some other people. Great review!


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