Friday, March 4, 2011

Early Review - Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (4.5/5 stars)

Beauty QueensReading level: Young Adult
Genre: Adventure/Humor
Size: 400 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: May 24, 2011
ISBN-13:  978-0439895972
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: Book It Forward ARC Tours
Rating: 4.5/5 stars


I loved Bray's Gemma Doyle series and enjoyed Going Bovine too.  So I was super excited when I saw Bray was coming out with another bizarre book.  I got an advanced reading copy of this book through Book It Forward ARC Tours.  All in all this was a very fun read.  It went a little over the top at points but for the most part was laugh out loud funny while touching on some serious issues that teen girls (and boys) face.

The story starts during the plane crash as the plane is plummeting towards a deserted island.  The girls are forced to find a way to survive, and they will do it, but in their own way.  One of the girls sees strange lights on the volcano on the island and then other strange things start happening.  The girls find out that there may be more to this island than they originally thought; in fact maybe it is part of some super secret scheme of somebody to take over the world...or maybe not.  They will brave snakes, broken nails, eat bugs, and build weapons out of beauty supplies...but the big question is will they survive?

When I started this book I wasn't sure what to make of it.  Some of it is hilarious and some of it is way over-the-top (an example is the airplane tray stuck in one of the girl's heads).  The text has footnotes scattered throughout the refer to various products/TV shows/etc. that are being promoted by the Corporation.  The girls themselves are varied and, naturally, a bit stereotypical in cases.  Bray did a very good job of giving most of the girls a good background and in-depth personalities, making them into more intricate characters than I originally thought possible.  I was a bit worried that there were too many characters in this book to keep track of, but Bray did an excellent job of dealing with that.

The story was easy to follow and the plot ended up more complex than you originally think it is going to be.  While the story is a bit over-the-top slap-stick in the beginning it does evolve into something more serious as the book goes on.  Many of these girls have some issues (who wouldn't after being in the pageant circuit for years).  All of the girls learn about themselves, grow as people, and are forced to face some of their fears as they eke out a survival on this island.  Surprisingly, or maybe not, there ends up being a strong theme of girl-power.  The girls learn to stand up for themselves, make out of life what they want to make out of it, and value each other for their different aspects of their personalities.  There are a number of social issue touched on as well including gay rights, corporate responsibility, and ecological responsibility.

Of course that's not to say it ever gets too serious, there is humor throughout...much of it focused on mocking corporations and the gullibility of society.  I laughed out loud numerous times, rolled my eyes a couple times, and actually found myself almost in tears as I approached the end of the book and released I wasn't going to get to read more about these interesting girls.  So, although the book really started out the end I was actually really attached to the characters and sad to see them go.  The book itself wraps up nicely and hopefully; and was an all around good read.

There were a couple of small problems.  In the beginning there are a lot of characters to keep track of, Bray did a good job dealing with this, but it was still a little confusing at points.  As you got further into the book this wasn't a problem.  The scenarios get a bit over the top at points and, as I said, there was some eye-rolling going on.  Some of that could have been cut out and the book would have been even better.  Most of the foot-notes are superfluous and were part of what made the book a bit too over-the top.  This is definitely a book for older young adults; there is sex in here and it is vaguely explicit.

Overall an excellent read.  Wonderful characters, a more intricate plot then you would expect, and lots of laughs.  I became surprisingly attached to these characters and was sad to have the book end.  There are some serious social issues addressed in this book and these are skillfully woven amongst all of the humor.  This book was definitely more cohesive than Going Bovine and I liked it much better.  I will definitely keep reading Bray.  This book is recommended for older young adults who love humor, quirkiness, adventure, and survival stories.

This book goes towards the following reading challenge:
- 100+ Reading Challenge


  1. I can't wait to read this. Great honest review!


  2. Sounds like the TV series Lost. I am doing my spring blog roll cleaning and wanted to stop to thank you for continuing as a follower of Fangs, Wands and Fairy Dust

  3. Thanks for posting your review! This sounds like a fantastic book and I've added it to my TBR. I really like the sound of the footnotes. I have to admit that Going Bovine wasn't too much of my liking, but I did like the Gemma Doyle series so I will try this one! I'll keep my eye out for it.

  4. Hi Steph,

    Thanks for stopping by! Love you blog :-)

    I agree that Going Bovine was a pretty out there book. Beauty Queens was much easier to read and much funnier.

    - Karissa