Monday, June 6, 2011

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

There was something about the island that made the girls forget who they had been. All those rules and shalt nots. They were no longer performing. Waiting. Hoping.
They were becoming.
They were.
Beauty Queens is the story of a group of pageant winners whose plane crashes on the way to competing for the title of Miss Teen Dream. They land on a desert island and are forced to figure out a way to save themselves. Using the tools on hand, basically a bunch of beauty supplies and ripped dresses, they figure out how to get food, fresh water, and even make weapons.

One of the girls compared their situation to Lord of the Flies. The difference was that the boys lost their humanity while shipwrecked. The girls found themselves, their inner strength and untapped talents. Even now, there can be incredible pressure on girls to smile and look pretty, say sorry when they didn't do anything wrong. I enjoyed learning about the different contestants and how their history shaped their behavior on the island. All of their hidden secrets come out, but nobody is shamed for being who they are.

In the background of the book is the Corporation. They are the sponsors of Miss Teen Dream. Commercials run throughout the book, advertising products, movies, and TV shows. Unbeknownst to the beauty queens, there is also a secret Corporation compound on the island. They are planning a major weapons deal with an enemy nation, and the girls are getting in the way.

I thought Beauty Queens would be a fun and fluffy read. I have had a minor obsession with pageants since I was a child, when I made my Barbies compete for crowns. A lot of the book is fluffiness. At first, the girls practice for the pageant before ultimately focusing on survival. There's dresses and makeup and even a boatload of cute boys. It's also way more than expected, from surprise feminism lessons to a mysterious island that almost rivals Lost to a staggering body count. If this isn't a perfect beach read, I don't know what is.

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