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’ve read all of Libba Bray’s books so far, and have enjoyed most of them. Well, sort of. After her last book, I decided that her style just isn’t my taste and figured that would be that. But then I read the summary above. Sounds fantastic, right? Plus, the cover is hysterical. So, I got sucked into reading this book. And…
…Libba Bray’s style just isn’t my taste. I know this now, clearly and unmistakably, and I won’t be picking up another of her books. So, keeping that in mind, here are my thoughts about Beauty Queens.
I will fully admit that I was mesmerized by beauty pageants when I was a kid. All those women looked so glamorous and perfect, and I thought they must have had better lives than mine. As I got older, I learned what pageant life is really like, and that completely changed the way I saw them. Beauty Queens is a spoof on pageants, and parts of it were very entertaining. Such as, Miss Texas’s determination to keep practicing her walk, rehearsing for the show, and quizzing herself on interview questions despite the fact that only a fraction of the contestants survived the plane crash. Plus, a search of the plane turned up as many beauty products as food and water. Those are such obvious clichés that they’re funny, and the story is chock full of them.
The parts I had difficulty with are specifically Bray’s style. She takes reality and turns it around to the point that it’s so clearly not possible and becomes funny. Well, funny for those who like that kind of humor. Beauty Queens is in the vein of Austin Powers meets The Naked Gun. I didn’t care for either movie, and, hence, didn’t care for this story. A girl with a tray sticking out of her head (but suffers from not medical trauma, other than her ‘look’ is ruined) and snakes that snarf people like in cartoons isn’t my cup of tea.
Even more so, that kind of humor sets the tone of the book. So, later on when things start getting pretty far ‘out there,’ I have no idea how to process it. Is Bray still trying to be funny, or is she trying to mix in a deeper message? If the latter, then the message got muddled in the crazy humor. The more 'out there' the humor is, the less you take it seriously (you're not supposed to, because it's a spoof). So, if there's a meaningful message in there, it's going to get lost because no one is taking anything seriously.
That said, I have friends who would think this kind of thing is funny, and I’d definitely recommend this book to them and anyone else with a similar taste in humor. If you’re not so keen on slapstick, though, you might want to skip it.