October 22, 2014

Review: Beauty Queens

Title: Beauty Queens
Author: Libba Bray
Pages: 396
Published: May 24th, 2011 by Scholastic Press
Series: Standalone
Buy on the Book Depository
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.Written by 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.
Hi guys! Today I'm here with my first official (long) book review! Squeeeee! This is so exciting...anyways, the book I'm here to review is Beauty Queens by Libba Bray.

I chose this book for my first book review because there is a lot of controversy surrounding it. Some people really like it and think that the message is important, but other people think it's inappropriately satirical and rude. I just happen to be in the first boat. I LOVED this book.

Note- The following review will have spoilers. Please either allow me to completely ruin the book for you or run (yes, actually) to the nearest bookstore (or pick up your Kindle) and buy Beauty Queens. Ignore the world. Speed-read the book and then come back and read this review.

I was expecting this book to be a mix of America's Next Top Model and Mean Girls. Y'know, with them catfights, girls turning on each other and being total witches. Not actual witches. Witches with a different letter at the beginning. This book was kind of like that, but had important themes too. It started out as just like I thought a book where the cover had a girl wearing a bikini and carrying lipstick ammo would start like. There's a plane crash and the girls are more worried about their hair than the fact they're gonna run out of food and water soon. But they soon elect a leader, figure out their problems, and get to work solving them.

At the beginning, the girls are still hoping that they'll get rescued instantaneously, and that they can keep taking part in the pageant. But after their radio starts working again, they figure out that their sponsor, The Corporation, has given up on their search for all the contestants. *Gasp*

And that's when the real drama starts. The catfights were actually pretty good. Uh, except for that one where one girl ate a worm. #nothappening. But as time starts to go by, the girls start unraveling their picture-perfect cover. They start revealing the reasons they started pageants. Which, by the way are completely and utterly ridiculous. Like, who falls for "I started pageants when I was 2 weeks old. My parents said I really wanted to do them. They could tell from my crying." Riiiiiiiiiight. Suuuuuuuuure. No. And then we start to learn that these girls actually have brains and personalities. Who would have known? Adina's only doing the pageant because she opposes them and plans to embarass The Corporation. Miss California, Shanti Singh, tells everyone that she has to pretend her parents gave up everything to give her the American dream, because that's what The Corporation wants.

"That's what The Corporation wants" could easily be one of the most repeated lines in this book. Girls hide their sexuality if they're lesbian, interests if they're not girly enough, and of course, their beauty, under layers and layers of makeup and etiquette lessons. All for The Corporation. And no one dares to call each other out on it, because they all do it. That's how you get ahead in the competition. We quickly learn that The Corporation is an overly exaggerated combination the TV networks and celebrities in our world. Through the footnotes, commercials, TV shows, and famous personalities, like Ladybird Hope. BTW, that's like the worst name ever.

Okay, so, these girls are adjusting to life and slowly becoming less plastic, and all of a sudden these so called "hot" pirates show up. Whaaaat? And all these poor boy-starved girls go crazy. Then a few days later they disappear with all the food and water stores.

So of course there's revenge and drama.

Then there's a lot more about important themes like feminism, family issues, gender, racism, disabilities, and beauty myths and slut-shaming. This book deals with all this really deep and intense stuff in an overly exaggerated way, which was really funny at first but got old quickly. I would have liked to see a stronger plot line, instead of a sorta-weak plot counting on lots of snarky humor and satire to make it a good book. Don't get me wrong. This entire review is basically me screaming in your face, "The snarky humor is AMAZING!!!!" I just think it would be more amazing if the plot was stronger.

Another thing that wasn't so great about this book was that we learnt so much about some characters, and virtually nothing about others that seemed interesting. I also didn't like the way some of the narration was done because I was confused and left in the dust, wondering "huh?" But that's just me being nitpicky. There are always flaws. Even when we're talking about Beyonce. #flawless

I was surprised by how different this book was from Bray's other books. But it was just as good. There was only the teensiest bit of romance, and what I liked about that was Bray used it to prove a point instead of just using it for the sake of it. There was kick-butt action. Most definitely. There were life lessons to be learned. Lots of them. There was teasing and screaming and primping and kissing and fighting and bullying and jealous-ing (not a word) and more primping and sarcastically-saying-stuff-ing (I know that's not a word either.)

Overall I probably give this book 4 stars. It was something I really enjoyed and probably would read again, but I didn't love it as much as I love some other books. I'll be putting up a formal rating system soon, so check back for it!

Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. Tell me what you think of Beauty Queens and also my very first review!!!

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