Beauty Queens-Libby Bray

Narcotic teen beauty queens + Lord of the Flies – adult supervision + political conspiracy + TV show pirates =

“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?”

I tried to win a copy of this on GoodReads, but alas, no. So I ended up checking the book out from my wonderful library. Libby Bray needs to thank whoever came up with the cover of this book because it’s clever and smart marketing. A bandolier of lipsticks?! Agh! Brilliant!

But onto the meats and potatoes of the book: The story. I was skeptical of reading this despite its awesome cover. Its been awhile since I’ve read a young adult book that didn’t offer a pallet of spooky supernatural characters and plots. I have to say: totally surprised! Actually, pleasantly surprised!
Let me sum up for you fine folks:

Plan crashes on the way to a beauty pageant run by the Big Brother-esque company called The Corporation. Only a handful of the girl survive and, with no adult supervision, and they are wrangled by an alpha female, Miss Texas, who insists that they continue their beauty pageant routines because they want to look good when they are rescued. The remaining girls discover not only who they are as individuals, but also, a secret Corporation compound and that they do not plan on saving the girls. Then we meet a dictator named Momo B. Chacha, a U.S. presidential candidate and Corporation head honcho Ladybird Hope and a whole slew of Reality TV show pirates.

I think what I loved most about this book was that despite the crazy plot, the characters seemed relatable. Sure, they were all basket cases, but having once been a teenage girl, emotions and hormones are always running on overload. It makes you a little unstable. Ask my folks and my brother. I mean, they had to deal with three teenage girls who are eighteen months apart. I’m surprised there wasn’t some kind of hormonal angst ridden nuclear fallout at my house growing up.

What I think Bray did best was to make this book is make all the main girls have secrets. They range from their past, their true intentions, and who they really are. Not going to give the secrets away though. Because I’ll just ruin the book for you! This is a reflection on all of us always wanting to be accepted, so we cover up who we are and mix with the flow of conformity. But who is to say that people wouldn’t like us for who we are? I think that this is the subtle message that the Bray weaves in her story. And if some people think you’re a freak? Who cares? There is always someone out there who gets you. Nice message in a world where everyone is always lumped into some social group.
Bray’s writing is easy to read and made the book go by really fast. I was kinda bummed when I got to the end and it was, well, done. I liked how she interested little breaks between the chapters: commercial breaks, questionnaire sheets the girls filled out, the “classified files.” There were a couple parts that I had to go back and read because I got confused with the sudden shift in the 3rd person narrative, but that is my only complaint about the entire book. Oh! And a total bonus: This book is so funny. They things that happen to these girls and what they do to in response made me laugh out loud.
I think Libby Bray tricked us in marketing this book as a young adult novel. This is, in fact, a book written for adult females so we can look back on our awkward time as teenagers and say “thank god we made it!”