Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Review: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Publisher:  Scholastic Press
Publication Date: May 24th, 2011
ARC Copy Courtesy of I Read Banned Books and Banned Book Tours (Thanks, Jen Bigheart!)

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.
(Courtesy of Goodreads)

Disclaimer:  I am a HUGE fan of Libba Bray.  I have only read one book by here that I haven't LOVED (I liked it,just didn't love it).  That said, this review may be a bit biased...

I'll start this review off by saying that this book is the funniest book I've read in ages
EVER.  There were so many laugh-out-loud moments that my sides would hurt after a few chapters.  My husband would be lying in bed next to me, giving me looks because he would not be able to hear the TV over my guffawing.  It was witty, sarcastic, and so, SO clever.  If you like sharp and sometimes-stinging humor, this is your book.

Now that I've covered the fact that this book is HILARIOUS, I have to mention that it is so very much more than that.  There is a great deal of social commentary hidden (I say "hidden" not because it's actually hidden, but because it's not preachy) in with the laughs.  I like it when a YA book can get the reader to think about the world we live in without losing the levity that makes YA so attractive.  I think the "girl power" message is loud and clear, but I loved that the girls managed to work together despite their differences (and let me tell you, there ARE differences!).  Sure, there was a heavy dose of cattiness and backstabbing, but hello- we are talking about girls!  There are twists and turns galore, a good bit of romance (with some unlikely couples), and of course, sexy "pirates".  

I give Libba Bray loads of credit.  This book it just amazing!  How does she think things like this up?  The writing, as always, was superb, and the character development was flawless.  I felt like I really got to know the girls central to the story.  I especially loved the pageant profile/questionnaire for each girl and the flash-forwards at the end.  I think this would make a blockbuster movie!  I know I would see it on opening night.

My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★+++ 

Grade Level Recommendation:  This book is definitely grades 9 and up.  (ages 14+).  There's a good deal of sex/sexuality, language, and violence.  Plus, I think a younger reader wouldn't get the social commentary or the humor AT ALL.


  1. I absolutely agree with everything you said, Karis! :) This book is a GEM~! I had so much fun reading it, Libba Bray is ingenious :)
    Glad you liked it, too!
    I actually haven't read any of LB previous books (yet) and you seem to be an expert.. would you mind recommending me which book should I start with? :) I'd greatly appreciate it! <3

    Have a great day! :)

  2. If you like paranormal and/or historical fiction, you really must try the Gemma Doyle trilogy. The first book is A Great and Terrible Beauty, and it is simply fabulous (and I'm not a huge fan of historical fiction). It's followed by Rebel Angels, and The Sweet Far Thing. The book I only liked is called Going Bovine. It's a funny one; won loads of awards, just wasn't my favorite. She's also written oodles of short stories for various anthologies, and they're fabulous. My favorites are from Geektastic and Zombies vs. Unicorns. She's got a new series coming out next year called The Diviners. As soon as she reveals the cover, it will be my WoW. I think people love her or hate her...

  3. I started a Great and Terrible Beauty and I'm loving it. Can't wait to work my way through the rest of the series. I'm on the fence about Beauty Queens. I'm not really drawn to the premise, but after finishing the Gemma Doyle trilogy, I may check it out. Nice review, though.

  4. I absolutely loved this book- like you, I was laughing so hard! Just pure genius, it would so make a great movie, so funny!

  5. Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts and opinions about the book. It sounds like a great read!!

    Sherry Soule Official Website

    Author of the Spellbound Series

  6. I liked this one too, but I can't say I 'loved' it. It was definitely enjoyable. Glad you enjoyed this one, Karis. Awesome review!

  7. I have this book. I love Libba Bray, too. I've only read her Rebel Angels series. Great books! I'm glad this one is good. I love funny books. Great review :)

  8. I've always enjoyed libba bray's book and i don't think this one will be an exception. i'm excited too :)

    Charmaine Smith (More Information on Delux Alaska Fishing Trips Fly-In)


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