19 July 2013
Bray, Libba. Beauty Queens. Scholastic Press, 2011.
The contestants of the Miss Teen Dream contest are flying to an exotic location for part of the competition when their plane crash lands on an island. The survivors must band together and try to create shelter and find food while they wait to be rescued. But when a secret plot is uncovered, the girls have to decide what's truly important to them.
Wow. This is a really, really strange book. As long as you are willing to suspend your disbelief and just enjoy the absurdity of the story, this book is a lot of fun. It mocks reality TV, beauty pageants, commercialism, political issues, etc. etc. There is a character named Momo B. Chacha who is the ruler of his own country. Momo keeps a taxidermied Lemur - General Goodtimes - on his shoulder and asks his advice periodically. One of the contestants has an airline tray lodged in her head throughout the entire book. Pirates land on the island, but they're rock star pirates. It just keeps getting weirder and weirder, but it's hilarious and well worth the trip.
I appreciated the strong feminist message in this book, as well as the acknowledgement of LGBTQIA issues as well as persons with disabilities. I was glad that the girls decided they did not need to just wait for someone to come rescue them. I was also glad there was a transgender character in this book, but that the entire book wasn't about that person coming out as trans. She just was, and more importantly, she was a contestant in a beauty pageant, too.
My only caveat: this book is long. Ridiculously so. The story is funny, and I wanted to see how it'd turn out, so I stuck with it, but I could see teens putting the book down when it just drags on too long. However, this book definitely belongs in the library's collection.
Recommended for: adults and teens who enjoy satire, strong readers, people who enjoy mocking reality TV and beauty pageants
Red Flags: mild violence, mild language, alcohol use (rum, because we're on an island with pirates), some pretty explicit sexual scenes
Overall Rating: 4/5 stars