Mixed feelings on this one. Good sequel, but didn't hold the same charm as the first. Loved the new characters and more Evie backstory, but I just was...moreMixed feelings on this one. Good sequel, but didn't hold the same charm as the first. Loved the new characters and more Evie backstory, but I just wasn't impressed with it. Might need be in need of a re-read at some point to pinpoint exactly what I didn't like about it.(less)
Her latest novel, Beauty Queens, is one of the most fun and insightful books I've read this summer and it was definitely what I...moreHooray for Libba Bray!
Her latest novel, Beauty Queens, is one of the most fun and insightful books I've read this summer and it was definitely what I need to get me out of the DEAR GOD, WHAT IS HAPPENING TO YA funk that the last couple books I've read put me into.
Beauty Queens begins when a plane full of Miss Teen Dream contestants crashes on a desert island. Most of the beauty queen contestants are no more by the tenth page of the book, but for the handful that survive the crash, the adventure is only beginning. Led by Miss Texas, who insists the girls must keep preparing for the pageant once they're rescued, the Miss Teen Dreamers learn how to survive in the wilderness and discover their inner strength. They're not the only ones on the island, however, and soon the girls find themselves as main players in an international incident.
Libba Bray is one of my favorite authors, and I'm so glad Beauty Queens didn't disappoint. I had some issues with the first part of the book, mainly with the parts that screamed, "Look at my clever satire of pop culture. LOOK AT IT," more than anything else. Bray beats the parody horse dead in the first chunk of the book, but thankfully lays off when the story and characters start to develop more. It's really a pity because there are tons of hilarious lines in the first couple chapters, and they didn't get my usual laugh-out-loud reaction because I was so sick of the parody nature of the story by then.
The story really gets good once the parody is (mostly) exhausted and Bray starts to explore the beauty queens a bit more. There wasn't a single character I disliked. I was even attached to the obnoxious Miss Texas by the end! Bray manages to bring a diverse cast to the pages of Beauty Queens and tackles a lot of issues for teen readers. Race, sex, class, and LGBT issues all make an appearance and are handled beautifully. Beauty Queen also tackles female empowerment and feminism, which were some of my favorite sections of the book. For young readers who might not have been exposed to feminist theory yet, Beauty Queens will definitely get them thinking and that's a good thing.
I also applaud the way Bray presented female sexuality and teenage sex. Some people are probably going to say it's too racy for teens (Imma lookin' at you, Wall Street Journal), but it was realistic and wasn't preachy ... unless you think telling girls to be gatekeepers of their sexuality as preachy, which I totally don't.
Beauty Queens is the perfect book for summer. It's funny and fun, but it'll also challenge you and make you think.