Is our society overrun by corporate agendas, including the obvious one where beauty and beauty products are thrust upon girls at a young age, brainwasIs our society overrun by corporate agendas, including the obvious one where beauty and beauty products are thrust upon girls at a young age, brainwashing them to think their most important attributes are physical and the goal of using those attributes is to be attractive to the opposite sex? If you believe it is (and I do), you'll enjoy this cautionary tale of young beauty contestants whose airplane crashes, killing many of them. The survivors and what they do on an island that doubles as a secret hideout of the Corporation, which is currently engaging in nefarious negotiations with a Kim Jong-Il type, is the premise on which it stands.
Also satirized: Sarah Palin, aka Ladybird Hope, who is a former Teen Dream contestant and now key sponsor of the pageant. She's also running for President and is as self-interested and gaffe-prone as the woman upon whom she is based.
In terms of the author, I was only familiar with the Gemma Doyle trilogy, and this is as far from that as chicken salad is from chicken poop. BEAUTY QUEENS puts the broad in broadly-based satire, and for my tastes, it's just a bit too obvious and repetitive. I prefer a fine-tipped paintbrush, as wielded by Jane Austen. Comparatively speaking, the one Bray uses here could easily cover a very large billboard.
And yet, and yet...her message is so important. The characters are more fully developed than you would think (and no, I'm not referring to their bra sizes!). There's Adina, the anti-beauty queen who wants to wreck the pageant from inside, Shanti, the Indian-American overachiever who sees everyone as her competition, especially Nicole, the other contestant-of-color, and Taylor from Texas, who worships Ladybird Hope and emulates her to the fullest. There's a gay contestant AND a transgender contestant (who used to be part of a boy band)and a girl who goes around with an airplane food tray attached to her forehead (not out of choice and don't ask!).
There are great laugh-out-loud moments and you can absolutely see BEAUTY QUEENS as a movie. The ending of the book is virtually written with cinematics in mind. I am not sure how much young adults (for whom the book is aimed) will enjoy it. It could be a book semi-femi(nist) mothers foist on their daughters to show how far we haven't come.
Which is fine--a little historical and hysterical context has never hurt anyone.
Gemma Doyle watches her mother die--most mysteriously. When she is shipped off to Spence Academy to learn to be a proper wife in British society, sheGemma Doyle watches her mother die--most mysteriously. When she is shipped off to Spence Academy to learn to be a proper wife in British society, she taps into her visions in a big way. The mystical aspect is rich, wonderful, and ultimately frightening though her breaking into the top rung of scholastic popularity is almost as scary at times.
I felt the book started out slowly and there were times when it didn't entice me to read, but the last third of the book was quite compelling. I will read the rest of the series--but not necessarily right away. Hence the four star rating instead of five....more