Beauty Queens – by Libba Bray
I had so much fun reading this book. I am always interested in a story about a group of people stranded somewhere and forced to work together to survive. That concept fascinates me, and I particularly like watching a feeling of camaraderie develop among the characters. That camaraderie is one of those elements that really endears a book to me and turns it from something I like to something I love, and as such, it was one of my very favorite things about Beauty Queens.
When a plane on its way to a beauty pageant crashes on a deserted island, the surviving contestants are left on their own to find a way off of the island and figure out how to survive in the meantime. Transitioning from rivals to teammates is harder for some than for others, and the girls are in more danger than they realize because the island might be so deserted after all.
Full of feminist themes as well as humor, adventure, and romance, Beauty Queens is both a campy, fast-paced slumber party of a book and a satirical, substantive look at the treatment of teen girls in American culture. Some of the more satirical elements – like the commercial breaks and the scenes involving the Corporation sponsoring the pageant, the Sarah Palin-esque Ladybird Hope, and the nutcase dictator of a small, fictional country called the Republic of ChaCha – were a bit too over-the-top for me. They felt very much like a cartoon (though a pretty funny one), but all the same they didn’t detract much from my over-all enjoyment of the book. I loved all of the girls, particularly Petra (Miss Rhode Island), and Tiara (Miss Mississippi, who can’t actually spell Mississippi but who is delightful and endearing anyway), and one of my favorite things about the book is seeing the characters slowly reveal more and more of themselves to the other girls and to the reader. Also, Girl Con.