Book Review: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
Shhh. I’ll tell you a secret. I had actually read a book about surviving foreclosure that I had planned to review today. Being able to add to my existing section of books related to home ownership appealed to me as did being able to include tags like “surviving foreclosure” that would no doubt bring in search visitors over time. But honestly? I just don’t have the stomach to write about about a crisis that shows no signs of abating. And the fact is that Libba Bray is one of the most original and funny writers out there today.
Those who read my review of Going Bovine may remember my raving about the highly imaginative plot and laugh out loud funny writing. And in Beauty Queens, Bray very much delivers more of the same. The story begins with a plane crash. The fifty Miss Teen Dream contestants are on a chartered flight to a Caribbean resort for a scheduled week of rehearsals and the pageant. When the plane crashes on what appears to be a deserted island, many of the young women are killed but the handful of survivors pick themselves up, dust themselves off and manage both to survive and to continue their rehearsals and plans for the big pageant, which they are sure will go on just as soon as they get rescued.
While it might seem from that brief description that Beauty Queens would compare to Lord of the Flies or Gilligan’s Island, I actually found it reminiscent of Max Barry’s Jennifer Goverment, the hilarious dystopian fantasy about a future world run completely by and for the corporations. Not that Beauty Queens is dystopian exactly, but The Corporation (which sponsors both the Miss Teen Dream pageant and, fictitiously, the novel reminded me very much of Barry’s zany world. That the girls manage to procure food and create shelters on the island is impressive, but their dealings with some of The Corporation’s most secretive employees, who are working on a plan to sell weapons to an incredibly rich dictator (the weapons disguised in empty cans for Lady Stache Off dipilatory) and are based on the seemingly deserted island provide much mayhem, as does the discovery of a trans-sexual contestant among their mist and the arrival of a yacht full of handsome (but highly incompetent) men.
If you enjoy reading Young Adult fiction and like to laugh, Libba Bray’s Beauty Queens is Very Highly Recommended.