June 2, 2011
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
Its a dark, dark sequin flecked day when a plane full of beauty queens crashes on a deserted island. Bound for an away shoot for the Miss Teen Dream Pageant, the survivors hope for a quick rescue, but what should they do while they wait? Maintain their pageant skills? Or work on a pesky little thing called survival?
The Corporation sponsors the pageant and, coincidentally enough, has also taken over said deserted island. Previous inhabitants are gone to make room for experiments on the local wildlife — it is much, much easier to streamline the production of new beauty products without pesky government control. But beauty queen survivors don’t fit into the Corporation’s plans. The question is — do you let them expire due to their own stupidity (they are, after all, beauty queens), or do you help them on the way with a ship full of rock star pirates?
Fortunately, for the sake of an interesting story, these are not your typical beauty queens. Ok, some of them are, but quite a few of the survivors are not.
Now, I can’t give a lot more detail without giving things away, things that you should find out as the story unfolds. After all, a big part of the experience is finding out about these young ladies as they find out about each other and themselves. And they find this journey of self discovery much easier when there are no adults around telling them how to act, think or speak.
Libba Bray has a wicked sense of humor and she uses it to full effect throughout this novel. There were numerous parts I forced my husband to listen to and I even saw him paging through the book on his own. My son also announced that he wanted to read it but at 12 there are certain things that should remain a mystery. Translation: I do not want to have to explain Petra or how you can mess around without “going all the way.”
Yes, this is YA. There is sex. But this is also a story about girls finding out who they are, who they really are, when no one is telling them what not to do. And this isn’t gratuitous sex. It always leads to some deeper revelation. Sometimes these revelations aren’t 100% comfortable but that is the nature of self awareness so teens will appreciate the brutal honesty.
There’s a lot of sand and grit in the story but I wouldn’t call it a beach read. If you want to read it on the beach, I won’t stop you. But don’t expect it to be fluff. This is a story to make you think even as you laugh and run off, book in hand, to find to someone to share it with.