Quick Take: A plane full of Miss Teen Dream pageant contestants crashes on a desert island. It sounds like the setup for a joke, but in Libba Bray’s hands, it’s an awesome novel.
Favorite Quote: “Maybe girls need an island to find themselves. Maybe they need a place where no one is watching them so they can be who they really are.”
Makes Me Want To: Finish the Gemma Doyle trilogy and find more kick-ass writers like Libba Bray
My Thoughts: I wish I could give this book to my younger self. I will definitely recommend it to my younger cousins. It’s satire, but not so satirical that I couldn’t find the truth and the reality in it. It’s wickedly funny–I laughed out loud throughout the book. It’s not at all like The Submission, but it will also be one of my favorite reads of the year.
Our Beauty Queens are teenage girls competing in a beauty pageant who crash-land on a desert island. The island isn’t quite what it appears to be (cool echoes of Lost) and neither are the girls. Miss Nebraska and Miss Rhode Island are hiding secrets, Miss California isn’t who she pretends to be, Miss Michigan is a lesbian juvenile delinquent in the pageant through some rehabilitation program (she’s also a comic book aficionado) and Miss New Hampshire (a.k.a. Adina Greenberg) is a feminist and debate champion who enrolled in the pageant to write an expose for her school newspaper (squee!). Adina is by far my favorite Beauty Queen; in fact, she is now one of my favorite fictional heroines.
Yes, it’s a young adult book. But guess what? It’s OK to read young adult books. Beauty Queens addresses gender, race, young women’s sexuality, sexual orientation, feminism, consumerism and corporatism, and what it means to be a teenage girl. Libba Bray gets bonus points for working all this into an extremely entertaining young adult novel that isn’t a gender studies lecture or a cleverly disguised “moral of the story” lecture. Some may find it too over the top at the end (crazy dictators, Sarah Palin-esque wannabes, secret military hijinks), but I was already down for the ride.