Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Teen beauty queens.
A lost island.
Mysteries and dangers.
No access to email.
And the spirit of fierce, feral competition that lives deep in the heart of every girl, a savage brutality that can only be revealed by a journey into the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. The horror, the horror! Only funnier. With evening gowns. And a body count! Join Libba Bray in this wicked satire of beauty pageants, reality TV and pop culture.
Before I start, I want to quickly say a BIG thank you to Allen & Unwin books for giving me a copy of Libba Bray's BEAUTY QUEENS! They didn't have to send me anything but they did, and for that, I'm very grateful to them! Publishers and their publicist teams rock! Anyway, I've been a fan of Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle series (be sure to check them out if you haven't already) and I found her writing beautifully prosed and I had high expectations considering the raving reviews of this book. However in BEAUTY QUEENS, I saw a huge change to her writing. When it comes to her new book . . . . well, let's just say that I'm finding it very hard to review it right now. It has a balance of good things and bad things . . . but there's definitely word one I would describe BEAUTY QUEENS as and that's . . . RANDOM.
BEAUTY QUEENS is a combination of Lord of the Flies meets Miss Congeniality. The story starts off when a plane crashes on a deserted island. My thoughts during this time were, "Okay, cool." Along the way, the beauty queen girls are trying to find a way to survive, only each girl has their own way of finding that survival. Then after a while everything goes mental. One of the girls sees strange lights coming from the other side of the island and then crazier events happen throughout the book. Snakes . . . broken nails . . . eating bugs . . . building weapons out of beauty supplies . . . random reality tv-ish pirates that you have no idea why they're there in the first place . . . you name it! The big question here is: Will they survive? My thoughts during this time, "I hope not."
When I started this book, I already expected a parody and/or comedy that made fun of beauty queens and I liked this idea as I'm not a fan of them myself and what they represent in our society. But I admit, some parts of the book - the comments some of the girls made - were hilarious. Not because it was funny but because the girls were so clueless but personally for me, everything went downhill when the silly parts came in. For example - the airplane tray got stuck in some girls forehead?? Seriously? I think I would've liked this more more if the author didn't add the unnecessary footnotes that were scattered around pages to refer to tv and other products. THAT for me was distracting, especially when the author also added ad breaks and other whatnot which I tended to skip because it was pointless and it interferes with the whole progression of the story. The only positive note I can give to Libba Bray herself was that she had gift in creating characters and supplied them with an in-depth personality. Other than that, I thought this book was wayyyyyy over-the-top for my liking. And don't get me started on the hot boy pirates that come in randomly! It was borderline ridiculous. Wished the pirates sailed away forever because like the footnotes and ad breaks, it messed up the book.
When readers finish the book, there's one message that you get: Girl Power. At least I hope that's the message . . . other than NOT being a beauty queen EVER! *insert mental shrug* Apart from the random-silly-crazy plot, the characters had their own way to stand up for themselves and even though I didn't feel any connection to them, but the story itself had a way to tackle several real-life issues including gay rights, corporate responsibility, and one of the big ones for me . . . self-respect.
Overall, I still don't know whether I liked BEAUTY QUEENS or not. Not kidding here. Like I stated before, it had a balance of good and bad things about it, with lot's of rolling of the eyes thing. It's really up to the reader to see for themselves whether this was great read for them . . . or not. Personally, I found this book very disappointing and I wonder about some of the reviews this book has been getting. Perhaps I'm one of those readers who just dosn't get it. But if Libba Bray did a Hunger Games like BEAUTY QUEENS, then I would've been happy. Truth be told, I feel a little bit clueless after reading this . . . unfortunately. But if you love lot's of "unique" characters and a little bit of random-and-let's-make-fun-of-beauty-queens comedy, then this book is for you! Though I do warn you: it's very random and will do your head in! *mental head spin*