Bibliographic information: Beauty Queens. Libba Bray. Scholastic Press, 2011. $18.99. 396p. ISBN-13: 978-0439895972.
Summary: The beauty queens this year are flying to their destination for the pageant. Expect, what do you know, the plane crashes on a deserted island out in the middle of the ocean and they have no way of contacting anyone. Everybody had died in the crash expect for a handful of beauty queens and one of them has a dinner trey sticking out of her head. Instead of giving up in despair, Miss Texas takes charge as leader and puts the girls to work in staying in shape for the contest, that is surely still going to take place once they are rescued. What the beauty queens don’t know is that on the other side of the island is a secret U. S. Government conclave hiding out in the volcano housing a stash of illegal weapons ready for trade. While the girls practice their dance moves, the government agents are planning to murder them, but the beauty queens are sadly underestimated.
Reading level and interest level: RL: 12 and up IL: grade 8 and up
Review: This laugh-filled novel is an adventure into the world of beauty queens, after they crash on an island. This is a novel that mocks and makes fun of the world of beauty queens and everything that is feminine. The format of this novel only adds to the humor and fun of the story. There are commercial breaks, contestant fact sheets, footnotes, and radio broadcasts. Bray creatively added reality TV shows and celebrity statuses that the beauty queens discuss from time to time and refer to for comparisons often, such as the hot shirtless, pirates who are also in a band. Instead of falling apart when they crash on the island, the beauty queens use their “can do” attitude to survive, curling irons and heels make great weapons and apparently Lady Stash Off can be made into a bomb. Bray boldly makes cracks at our single-minded, consumer-driven, appearance zealous, media drenched society that will leave you laughing for hours. Conformity is an issue Americans fall victim to every day, especially the young.
Readers’ annotation: Beauty queens stranded on a deserted island and running low on beauty products. How will they survive?
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: This book does a great job on showing teens that they do not need to conform to society and they should not get pulled into consumerism. They should have a mind of their own, not be one of the sheep in a row. It also does a great job on expressing sexuality and letting young adults know that it is okay to do so and they do not need to hold themselves back.
Issues present: There is plenty dismissed death, some expressions of sexuality, homosexuality, and crude language. However, none of these things are new to children. They are all a part of life and it should be okay to express your sexuality or be homosexual. Crude language is used often by teens. There is also some violence that might be objected, but censoring children from it prevents them feeling fear and fear is a good survival technique. Censoring children from things that are natural hinders their development and holds them back from living up to their full potential.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce the beauty queens who survived.
A plane full of beauty queens just crashed on a deserted island! And it was all a hoax.
Read one of the many commercial adds.
Genre or subject: Science Fiction: dystopian, death, sexuality, beauty pageant
Readalikes: Lord of the Flies, Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, Ship Breaker
Author’s website: http://libbabray.com/
Awards: Audie Award for Narration by the Author or Authors; Audie Award Nominee for Teens (2012), Los Angeles Times Book Prize Nominee for Young Adult Literature (2011), Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Books of the Year (2011)
Reviews: Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-439-89597-2; Booklist: http://www.booklistonline.com/Beauty-Queens-Libba-Bray/pid=4766141; Kirkus Reviews: http://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/libba-bray/beauty-queens/
Why I chose it: This is an absolutely hilarious novel that I highly recommend to all young adults. The ads are one of the best parts. I couldn’t pass up using this novel for my collection.