Audiobook Review: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Posted 9 July, 2012 by Amanda / 34 Comments

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
Genre: YA Contemporary
Format: audiobook
Read: 4/19/2012 — 5/30/2012
In Six Words: It is both ridiculous and poignant.


Libba Bray — Website | Livejournal | Twitter
Amazon — Hardcover | Kindle | Audiobook
Add it to Goodreads


The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea, crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner.

What’s a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program – or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan – or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up?

Welcome to the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Your tour guide? None other than Libba Bray, the hilarious, sensational, Printz Award-winning author of A Great and Terrible Beauty and Going Bovine. The result is a novel that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you never see beauty the same way again.
-from Goodreads

Why I Started Listening to this Book and Final Verdict

I am pretty sure that the reason I picked up Beauty Queens was that I crashed a Twitter conversation between Cialina (Muggle Born) and Jess (Gone with the Words) about audiobooks.  At the time, I think Cialina was listening to Beauty Queens.  Both of them actually suggested a different book, but my library didn’t have it, so I went with Beauty Queens.  I AM GLAD THAT I DID!

My Thoughts

If you’re going to experience this book, get the audiobook.  At 14 hours, it is long.  Trust me when I say that Libba Bray narrating her own novel is beyond amazing and completely worth it.  The fact that it took me over a month to finish listening to Beauty Queens has nothing to do with my enjoyment of the book, and everything to do with the fact that I didn’t have the opportunity to listen to any audiobooks during the three weeks that I was on semester break, which happened when I was about halfway through.

Can I tell you secret?  I started reading this book once.  I got it from the library, read a few pages, and took it back unfinished.  It just never grabbed my attention.  But the audiobook!  I was almost instantly hooked, and Libba Bray has such unique voices for her characters that there were moments I completely forgot that I was even listening to one person.  And with so many characters filling these pages (or 12 discs), these voices were essential in giving the characters life.  To a certain extent, you can’t take this story seriously, and listening to audiobook allowed me to revel in the ridiculousness of it all.

Beauty Queens is so much more than a book about beauty queens stranded on an island, and therein lies its value (and 10 rating).  After I finished listening to the book, I listened to Libba Bray talk about how she came to write this book and what she wanted it to be.  And basically, Beauty Queens is a look at gender, deconstructed.  You have views on beauty, how society affects and drives our ideas about our selves and gender, consumerism, and sexual orientation.  With the right guidance, there is so much nestled in Beauty Queens that teens (or, you) could spend so much time in discussion about all the issues this book raises.  Not only that, it is far more relevant to teens today.

This is the kind of book that I wish I had as a teen.  This book says, “Be yourself.  You’re perfect the way you are,” while touching on all the reasons why it’s so difficult to do so.  I don’t think there’s much else to say than: if you want a book that will make you think and laugh all at once, consider picking the audiobook up.  It’s one that you must experience for yourself.

Other Reviews

Smash Attack Reads! (print)
Never Too Fond of Books (audiobook)
Bookgoonie  (print)

Filed under: Comedy, ESR: 10, Review: Amanda, YA,


34 Responses to “Audiobook Review: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray”

    • Doooooo it! The audiobook is AMAZING and Libba Bray is hilarious.

      The audiobook version I had also featured an “interview” with Libba, where she just answered common questions she got about the book. It made me like the book even more.

  1. AMEN! I agree with everything you said. The book is a serious satire and I love that Libba went there. I really, really must listen to this on audio. I wanted to since you first told me Libba narrated, and now I really want to because of your review.

  2. Good to know that the audiobook made the difference! I might have to pick this one up in audiobook next year for my YA reads. :) I think there are some books that are actually betting in audio!

  3. Oooooo a 10! That’s definitely something to take note of because I know you don’t give them lightly Amanda! I haven’t read anything by Libba Bray, but I have this one on my shelf and I’m thinking it’s about time for me to pick it up! I like the whole idea of deconstructed gender concepts:) Really fantastic review, I’m excited about this one now!

  4. Libba does her own narrating?!? I adored this book–soooo fantastic–and have serious rock-star worship for Libba Bray. I’m definitely going to have to listen to this one (and I’m not even an audiobook gal)!

  5. I love audiobooks like that! The last book that surprised me on audio was The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy … I had tried reading it SEVERAL times but just gave up. Then I started listening to the author narrate and it was AWESOME!

    I’m definitely going to have to get this one on audio … I have read so many mixed reviews that I was on the fence, but it sounds like audio’s the way to go! I did see that Libba Bray narrated this one and it definitely piqued my interest.

    Great review!

  6. Ok that review was beautiful! I know several times I have really wanted to get a copy of this book but everyone seemed to think it was a very silly tale. I do like the idea behind the book but I’m wondering if that gender mold that women are placed in really came across in the book itself. I have always loved themes like that though that show girls and women that they shouldn’t have to fit a mold to be happy in life and to get the guy.

    Thanks for the awesome review I shall have to see about maybe getting this on audio.

  7. I loved this one! Libba Bray is hysterical and I couldn’t help but laugh out loud throughout the book. There were times where I said “Wait, did she just say that aloud?” Definitely a great audiobook especially with the commercials and footnotes!

  8. I loved the book, but it is a bit hard to get all the characters straight. The audiobook sounds like the uber-awesome way to go, though I think every female YA-er out there should experience any way they can get a hold of it. If I were a HS English teacher, I would couple this with something Victorian and discuss away gender roles & expectations. Oh the fun & oh the parent complaints I would probably receive.

    Thanks for the link love gal.

    • I think that listening to the audiobook helped to keep the characters straight a little better because Libba Bray gave each character a very distinctive voice. It was like listening to a bunch of different people narrating rather than one person. I think that’s a big part of the reason why this worked as an audiobook.

  9. I recently read and reviewed Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, and I heard that the audiobook was even better! I’m really going to have to find this and listen to it. Thanks for the great review!

  10. Oh WOW. AMANDA. You know, as awesome as the cover for this is… I looked at it, and just went ‘meh. not for me’. I’m seriously questioning that now… it sounds amazing, and you’re not the only person I know who EFFING ADORED IT.

    Ugh. Another one on the TBR >__<