Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
Published May 24, 2011
I was a little skeptical about this book mainly because of two things: low rating on a Libba Bray book (I have always enjoyed her books) and because it’s about bimbo beauty queens who are trying to survive on a seemingly deserted island. However, I still picked up the book because it was still a Libba Bray book and because I had picked this book for my NYPL ReadingChallenge. I was expecting stupid blondes (sorry, stereotype) who end up doing more harm than good. What I didn’t expect was to actually find this book not only highly entertaining but quite educational as well.
I actually listened to the audiobook for this one (I think it was read by Libba Bray herself but not 100% sure about this) and it seemed more like a TV show rather than a typical audiobook. Especially because of the music during the “commercial breaks” which showcased different feminine products from the Corporation or some of their TV shows. It was definitely a unique experience listening to the audiobook and I’m glad I did it rather than reading the book in print.
Beauty Queens covered a lot of controversial topics: women rights, LGBT, and the stereotype of females in a relatively male-dominated society. There were a lot of snarky and satire about the expectations of females today and female sexuality. I found the topics to be riveting and engaging especially because, yes, we talk about such things today but I don’t see many YA novels that outright makes fun of these issues. It points a light at these issues and even though this book was written 5 years ago, it’s still very relevant today.
The beauty queens in this book exceeded my expectations. Sure there were certainly a few really dumb bimbos in the group but they were only dumb because people expected them to be dumb. Once they were thrust into this situation, they really came out of their shells and eventually learned and helped a lot. In the beginning when I first started listening to the book and was listening to these beauty queens discuss the situation, I wanted to smack them in the face. I mean, when faced with the accident, the “team leader”, Taylor, wanted to practice their routines rather than figuring out how to survive. They failed to realize the situation they were in until they were faint with hunger and dehydrated. While a few were the typical bimbos, there were also a lot of smart ones. It was also interesting to see their family backgrounds and where they come from because it helped a lot. For example, Taylor, Miss Texas, because she had history of shooting live animals and whatnot, she was able to use some of her hunting skills to help the other girls survive. This other one grew up in a fishing community so she knew how to make fish lines to capture fresh fish. It was quite amazing to see how these seemingly uninteresting skills can make or break survival.
The plot also had a lot of twists and turns. From the synopsis, you don’t get the impression that there is some dark sinister plot lurking in there; however, there was this huge scandal and conspiracy where the girls not only had to survive to live on the inhabited island but also to fight to survive against deadly scheme.
The book was incredibly fun to read. Definitely exceeded my expectations on both the beauty competitions and many controversial topics discussed in the book. I highly recommend it. But you should listen to the audiobook instead.