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.
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!
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.