My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Libba Bray is truly a gifted and talented writer. The beauty of the words she selects and puts together is amazing. Beauty Queens does not disappoint when it comes to engaging prose, the use of several plot lines exquisitely woven together, multiple characters fleshed out enough to imagine they're real, and comical situations which have the reader laugh out loud.
The story begins with a plane having crashed on an island already. Right away, you are given the feeling like this is all being filmed, thanks to the commercial breaks and advertising footnotes. I couldn’t help but think of the first episode of Lost as I read the first chapter. In fact, I can imagine the source of inspiration: Husband and wife sit down to watch TV together. Wife wants to watch the Miss America pageant, but hubby keeps flipping between Lost and Survivor. Blur all those story ideas and characters together and you end up with Beauty Queens.
As the story progresses, you are introduced to several (12/13) beauty queens who survived the crash. At first, I had a very difficult time keeping them all straight. Some of the girls developed unique characters quickly, but several just kind of got lumped together, and I had to keep thinking back to remember who was who and how they all related. Less than half-way through the book, that feeling of character confusion settled for the most part.
With the understanding that this story is supposed to pull on all our stereotypes and the ridiculous nature of reality tv shows, the plotlines are funny even though a bit predictable at times. My least favorite part of the whole book was the end. I could visualize the cheesy ending to a cheesy movie, but it was just too over-the-top for my taste.
The reason I gave Beauty Queens only 3/5 stars is not for anything lacking in this story, because honestly the story is phenomenal. It’s just I’m tired of teen books feeling the need to engage in political correctness. I get the need for it in this book; it’s a semi-farcical satire. Of course it’s going to utilize political correctness just to make fun of it. Only, I’ve read so many books recently where the political correctness was there because the author had an agenda or was trying too hard to appeal to a certain group rather than to develop the story. But the main reason I gave this book only 3 stars is because my daughter picked it up from the library and began reading it before I could get around to it (Thanks GLOW). Thank goodness she knew to put it down before the sexual stuff got real heavy. I wish there was a larger selection of clean or mostly-clean books available to our teens. I would recommend this book to a reader in the 18+ group looking for an over-the-top comedy.
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