Reviews for Beauty Queens
Booklist Reviews 2011 May #2
When a plane carrying contestants for the Miss Teen Dream pageant crashes on a remote island, the survivors face greater challenges than just finding food, shelter, and missing cosmetics. Unbeknownst to the girls, the island is not deserted: its volcano houses a secret U.S.-government enclave involved in illegal weapons trading, and the cast grows further after some studly reality-TV pirates arrive on the scene. Outlandish? Yes. And there are characters that veer toward stereotype: take-charge Miss Texas, incognito-journalist Miss New Hampshire, and transgender Miss Rhode Island (who has a surprise under her sash), among others. But rather than letting the plot reel out of control, Bray, author of the Printz Award-winning Going Bovine (2009), spins this hilarious romp into an examination of femininity and feminism, sex and sexuality. And while they await rescue, the girls discover moving truths about themselves. The text is interspersed with commercial breaks, contestant fact sheets, footnotes, radio broadcasts, and spoofs of reality TV and celebrity status, all of which add to the appeal of this sure-to-be popular title. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.
BookPage Reviews 2011 June
Girls gone radical
Libba Bray’s last novel, the award-winning Going Bovine, was heralded as a departure for the author, who had previously been best known for a trilogy of Victorian-era supernatural romances. Now, in Beauty Queens, Bray further pushes the boundaries in a work of social satire that skewers race, gender, standards of beauty and our hyper-saturated media culture. Oh, and did I mention that it’s also wicked funny?
When a plane carrying 50 contestants in the Miss Teen Dream pageant crash-lands on a (seemingly) deserted island, will it turn into Lord of the Flies? Or something else entirely? At first, the girls do split up into tribes—the Lost Girls and the Sparkle Ponies—but before long, they come to see their isolation as something of an opportunity. “There was something about the island that made the girls forget who they had been. . . . They were no longer performing. Waiting. Hoping. They were becoming. They were.” But what happens when these self-actualizing (and very, very fetching) young women encounter the hunky stars of reality TV’s “Captains Bodacious IV: Badder and More Bodaciouser”?
The surviving Miss Teen Dream contestants comprise a veritable United Nations of diversity—there’s the black girl, the Indian girl, the transgender contestant, the uptight virgin, the deaf one, the lesbian . . . but each girl’s remarkably distinctive voice and deeply personal backstory results in a narrative that’s equal parts compelling and crazy. Beauty Queens is pointed, riotous and unapologetically feminist, with each swerve toward preachiness cleverly counterbalanced with a hilarious barb or perfectly placed one-liner. “Do you think my new feminism make me look fat?” one character asks. Turns out, Bray shows us, feminism can look pretty darn hot after all. Copyright 2011 BookPage Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Fall
Teen beauty pageant contestants whose plane has crashed use their "can-do" spirit [Mon May 20 23:04:31 2013] enhancedContent.pl: Wide character in print at E:\websites\aquabrowser\IMCPL\app\site\enhancedContent.pl line 249.
to survive on what they assume is a deserted island. (Actually, it's home to a government conspiracy.) The book is a smart, wickedly funny send-up of pageant culture; Bray also goes deeper to show how our culture's insidious focus on female perfection keeps girls from being who they are. Copyright 2011 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2011 #4
It's The Lord of the Flies with sparkle and hair-straightening irons. Except here, the castaways, teen beauty pageant contestants whose plane has crashed en route to competition, don't degenerate into savagery; they use their "can-do" Miss Teen Dream spirit to survive -- even thrive -- on what they assume is a deserted island. (Actually, it's home to a government conspiracy.) Oh, and the straightening irons? They use those to catch fish. At first, Bray's novel seems to be simply a smart, wickedly funny send-up of pageant culture. Of course Miss Teen Dream Texas emerges early on as the self-proclaimed leader. She plans for the girls to find food and shelter while still practicing their dance routines and interview skills because, as she says, "in the pageant of life, a girl picks up fallen sequins and turns them into a brand-new dress of awesome." Yet though the jokes fly thick as unplucked brows, Bray also goes deeper into each character to show how our culture's insidious focus on female perfection keeps girls from being who they are. Away from the media images generated by The Corporation (satirical Corporation-run "commercial breaks" appear throughout), a transgender contestant finds love with a reality TV pirate while a girl whose family is from India gets to drop the grateful-immigrant act the judges expect. Escaping civilization -- the best thing that could happen to a teenage girl? Sure looks that way. christine m. heppermann Copyright 2011 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2011 April #2
This inventive satire mocks celebrity culture while celebrating the resilience of teen girls.
Printz Award–winning author Bray (Going Bovine, 2009) plunges into cultural criticism with her latest teen novel. The plane carrying the 50 Miss Teen Dream Pageant contestants crashes on a remote desert island, and the survivors must channel the skills that made them successful on runways to keep themselves alive until they can be rescued. ("From Ladybird Hope'sÃÂ I'm Perfect and You Can Be Too, Chapter Three: 'A lady's quick thinking can save a bad situation.' She was talking about putting nail polish on a runner in your hose, but I think the same rule applies here.") Unfortunately, their sponsor decides there is better press in avenging their deaths than in mounting a rescue and sets that scenario in motion. An encounter with the stars of a pirate-themed reality-TV show highlights their vulnerability. By now, though, genuine survival skills have been honed, and the teens foil the dastardly plot. While the foibles of today's media/celebrity/political culture are the clear target of this stinging satire, the teen cast is funny and endearing in its own right. As the story unfolds, each girl's back story and actions under duress reveal a unique character.
The humor is both dark and madcap, including footnote asides and commercial scripts that keep the laughs coming.ÃÂ (Fiction. 14 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Library Journal BookSmack
Whitney Huston once sang that learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all; this is only one of many lessons to be learned in Beauty Queens. Fourteen Miss Teen Dream Pageant contestants survive a plane crash on a deserted island. Not knowing when rescue will arrive, the girls set about the business of survival-food, water, and shelter-while their self-appointed leader, Miss Texas, encourages them to stick with their pageant prep. Unbeknownst to our heroines, the island's volcano hides the secret lair of the Corporation, an all-ruling intergovernmental super-entity planning some bad, bad business involving explosive hair removal cream, a crazy dictator, and one-time-pageant-winner-and-now-presidential-candidate Ladybird Hope. Bray's delicious satire does not overpower the beating heart at the center of this empowerment tale. Each girl's backstory is equally compelling, and when these ladies bond together to bring down their oppressors, they keep the reader eager to reach the action-packed conclusion. Did I mention the boatload of sexy pirates? Treat yourself to the best beach read this summer. - "35 Going on 13" Booksmack! 6/16/11 (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 March #3
Bray follows her Printz Award-winner, Going Bovine, with an only slightly less absurd premise in this out-there satire about a planeload of teen beauty queens who crash onto a (not so) deserted island. Lord of the Flies with an evening gown competition, anyone? Led by the indefatigable Miss Texas, Taylor Rene Krystal Hawkins, the 14 surviving contestants must rely on competitive moxie. Despite the large cast, Bray makes the Misses distinctive, though each is more a stand-in for a particular brand of diversity than a fully dimensional teenager (one's black, one's deaf, one's gay, one is a boy in the process of becoming a girl). Poor Miss New Mexico stands out because she has a serving tray embedded in her forehead. ("Bangs are the new black!") Halfway through the ordeal, a boat full of shirtless, reality TV pirates runs aground, allowing for some smoking hot scenes. Fun footnotes, contestant profiles, and scripted commercial breaks are interspersed. There's a lot of message, but every time the story veers toward sermonizing, Bray corrects with another crack about our media-saturated, appearance-obsessed, consumer-driven society. Ages 13-up. (May) [Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC
School Library Journal Reviews 2011 July
Gr 9 Up--Whip-smart social commentary, surreal plot elements, and feminist themes come together in this bizarre and brilliant story about a group of beauty pageant contestants stranded on a remote island after a plane crash. Undaunted by disaster, the teens hone their survival skills as they practice dance routines and pageant interviews, while a ruthless corporation secretly plans to use them as pawns in an arms deal with an insane dictator. Beneath an entertaining veneer of witty dialogue and comic absurdity lies a thought-provoking exploration of society's expectations for how young women should look, feel, think, and act. Wry footnotes lampoon the media and pop culture, while hilariously scripted "commercial breaks" interrupt the narrative, leading readers to question the pervasiveness of self-improvement products that make consumers feel inadequate. Using multiple points of view to tell the story, Bray rises admirably to the challenge of developing a large cast of characters. Each pageant contestant possesses much more than surface-level beauty, and even the most stereotypically ditzy girl offers unique and unexpected strength. Readers from all backgrounds will identify with the representation of various religions, ethnicities, and sexual orientations among the characters. Occasional strong language and a frank approach to sex may make this novel most appropriate for older teens. The empowering theme of self-acceptance and the affirming message that women should not underestimate themselves or others makes this novel a potentially life-changing book for budding feminists.--Allison Tran, Mission Viejo Library, CA [Page 92]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
VOYA Reviews 2011 June
A plane of beauty queens. An island. A crash. A secret compound. A maniacal dictator. Pirates. And, a corporation that wants to rule the world. All of these are wacky components that combine to create Bray's newest release, Beauty Queens. When their plane crashes on an apparently deserted island, the survivors of the Miss Teen Dream pageant are certain they will be rescued soon. Meanwhile, they are determined to stay pageant-ready. As time passes and there is no sign of rescue, the girls discover the very talents that won their pageant crowns will be their salvation. But not everything pageant-related has a place on the island. Soon, the girls begin shedding their beauty queen facades in favor of developing their savvy, independent styles. When rescue finally comes, it is not quite what they expected. Their new-found skills are put to the test when they realize their rescue might be more deadly than the crash Reading Beauty Queens as a novel of girl empowerment would be telling only part of the story. The remainder is a zany adventure with serious messages about the media, politics, body image and consumerism. Just when you think Bray can't add another element--she does, and caps them all off with some of the best one-liners in YA literature. Due to some sexual content and the sophisticated messages, librarians should purchase this for high school readers. Older teens will love to see the beauty queens blossom, and the final pages will take them on a journey that will leave them wondering: how much was real, and how much was reality TV?--Anita Beaman 5Q 4P S Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.