Author: Libba Bray
Genre: Humor, Contemporary
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.
Me: HILARIOUS, yet so thought-provoking. Libba Bray is officially my favorite.
The Ups: Please don't judge this book by it's cover. It's terrible, it really doesn't embody the book, and I hate it. But the book itself is wonderful. Trust me.
It's really rare to see authors who incorporate social issues into their novels and rare to see them DO IT WELL. Why? Because it's SO hard. But Beauty Queens does it, and manages to keep a cynical, humorous tone so it doesn't feel like the book is trying to preach the entire time. The whole thing is a satire on modern standards of race, sex, beauty, wealth and yet it never gets boring.
It deals with the fakeness and manipulation of big corporates:
“The Corporation would like to apologize for the preceding pages. Of course, it's not all right for girls to behave this way. Sexuality is not meant to be this way - an honest, consensual expression in which a girl might take an active role when she feels good and ready and not one minute before. No. Sexual desire is meant to sell soap. And cars. And beer. And religion.”
And how girls feel an obligation to do certain things:
“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.”
And how anger and frustration is regarded as stupid or overreacting:
“Sometimes I just want to go in a room and break things and scream. Like, it’s so much pressure all the time and if you get upset or angry, people say, ‘Are you on the rag of something?’ And it’s like I want to say, ‘No. I’m just pissed off right now. Can’t I just be pissed off? How come that’s not okay for me?’ Like my dad will say, ‘I can’t talk to you when you’re hysterical.’ And I’m totally not being hysterical! I’m just mad. And he’s the one losing it. But then I feel embarrassed anyway. So I slap on that smile and pretend everything’s okay even though it’s not.”
AND IT'S STILL HILARIOUS.
“Men have feelings too, you know. You bruise the petals of my manflower.”
“Because 'You're perfect just the way you are,' is what your guidance counselor says. And she's an alcoholic.”
How is this even possible? I have talked to so many different people about how books and stories have all become sort of a competition to see what can be more adventurous or who can make their book the most depressing but THIS. This is what YA literature is, and has the potential to be. Libba Bray has a very specific sense of tongue-in-cheek humor, and not everyone is a fan of that. Cool. The story is quite flashy and unrealistic and although that's another part of the humor in itself, some people don't enjoy that. Others comment on the plot and say it was slow, or not original. Great. Don't apologize for your opinion (see what I did there...hehe).
But as readers, I think that it is important to recognize that not every author and not every book can dare to try and deal with sexism or racism or beauty standards and make it funny and readable. Even if you don't enjoy it, the fact that books like this are being written is so so so important...and amazing.
The Downs: That cover. It drives me insane. I have yet to buy this book because of it...is that bad? Maybe I should wait to see if other editions come out?
Overall: A clever satire that deals with tough, controversial issues without being over the top.
Rating: 5 kisses!