May 27th, 2012


Book Review: Beauty Queens, by Libba Bray

It wants to be Lord of the Flies + Austin Powers; it's actually Mean Girls + LiveJournal.

Beauty Queens

Scholastic, 2011, 396 pages

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.

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Verdict: Snarky snarkety snark snark snarkingly. Beauty Queens is unsubtly, anviliciously funny, and you will probably agree with the messages and maybe even chuckle a little. But it's not a serious book; the plot does not wear even a G-string of plausibility, and it's more like reading someone's collection of humorous fanfic outtakes than a novel. It also assumes that the audience is denser than Miss Mississippi and must have every message reinforced, underlined, and highlighted, making it the sort of joke where half the time the teller ruins it by explaining the punchline. This is a book for people who like their socially-aware satire delivered liked anvils launched from a catapult.

My complete list of book reviews.