Review: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray


Synopsis from Goodreads
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?

Welcome to the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Your tour guide? None other than Libba Bray, the hilarious, sensational, Printz Award-winning author of A Great and Terrible Beauty and Going Bovine. The result is a novel that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you never see beauty the same way again.

Amazon  US/UK | Amazon kindle US/UK | The Book Depository US/UK


* * * 
I love satire, I love the way Libba Bray managed to rip the consumerism society into complete shreds in this book. It was gorgeous, uproarious fun, but it wasn't for everyone. In fact, I know of plenty of people who disliked this book immensely.

On the other hand, if you liked War, Inc or Southland Tales, Beauty Queens is right up your alley.

We have a desert island and fifty teenage girls, whose ultimate goal is to thwart their competitors and win Miss Teen Dream competition. Some of them are completely delusional, some of them are dumb, shallow, blind, angry, damaged, psychotic or in need of something to prove.

 “I'll try to communicate, Taylor said. She spoke slowly and deliberately. Hello! We need help. Is your village close?
My village is Denver. And I think it's a long way from here. I'm Nicole Ade. Miss Colorado.
We have a Colorado where we're from too! Tiara said. She swiveled her hips, spread her arms wide, then brought her hands together prayer-style and bowed. Kipa aloha.
Nicole stared. I speak English. I'm American. Also, did you learn those moves from Barbie's Hawaiian Vacation DVD?
Ohmigosh, yes! Do your people have that, too?”

Through hilarious speeches intercepted by the corporation adverts, the layers or false beliefs and fake personalities slowly peel away, and the girls are able to find who they truly are, and that's breathtaking and sad and empowering.

“The Corporation would like to apologize for the preceding pages. Of course, it's not all right for girls to behave this way. Sexuality is not meant to be this way - an honest, consensual expression in which a girl might take an active role when she feels good and ready and not one minute before. No. Sexual desire is meant to sell soap. And cars. And beer. And religion.” 
 Taylor, the original leader of the girls is a tornado. Not only she brings them all together in a completely unappealing, fake and stupidly cheerful way, when she goes off her rocker, because one of the corporation men on the island pumps her full of hallucinogenic drugs, she becomes this awesomely crazy Rambo who goes around killing the agents and building the shrine for her favorite ex-beauty queen.

“In this man’s smile was all the unfairness of the world in its thuggish seduction. “Just come with me. We’ll take care of you.”

“No, you won’t.” Taylor stroked the man’s cheek. She reached her arms up to cradle the back of his head and, with the skill of a champion, she broke his neck. Then she dragged him into the bushes, took his gun and walkie-talkie, and kept moving.”

There is no shortage of craziness on the island, TV reality pirates and mad dictator with a fixation on Elvis aside, and I was awed and amazed by the sheer amount of fantastic characters and their stories Libba Bray managed to put together.

It was fun, it was a rollercoaster which left me a little bit sad, because that's what satire does - you laugh at the exaggerated truth, but in the end it's still truth.

Recommended to anyone who thinks they'll be able to stomach this book. I personally thought it was fabulous!

* * *
Невероятно шикарная книга! Чистейшая сатира на современное общество и ценности нашей потребительской культуры вперемежку с постоянными рекламными роликами о корпорации....

ООО, это обзательно надо ЧИТАТЬ! Я ржала без остановки над глупыми диалогами малолетних королев красоты, но среди их фальшивых улыбок и выдуманных характеров, нацеленных на то, что любят и предпочитают зрители, можно было внезапно найти что-то глубокое, мудрое и трогательное, и чем дольше они находились на острове, тем больше с них спадала фальшь, и они потихоньку начали находить самих себя.

Сюжет и обилие персонажей - чистейшая фантасмогория вперемежку с Повелителем Мух, Остаться в Живых и Рэмбо, сумасшедшим диктатором-поклонником Элвиса и махинациями корпорации. Упомянула ли я уже пиратов из реалити-шоу? Угу, и они там есть!

Цитировать можно практически всю книгу - она просто культовая. И я совершенно не удивляюсь тому, что большинство прочитавших её подростков сарказм хорошо не восприняли. Как же, это ж слишком близко к правде, а поэтому воспринимается болезненно...

Прошу, мои дорогие, читайте, и прокомментируйте ваши впечатления потом!


  1. I totally loved this one. The corporation reminded me of the one in the show Better Off Ted, which you should probably watch if you can, since you enjoyed the humor in this. :)

    I wasn't a huge fan of A Great and Terrible Beauty, but this put Bray back on my reading list in a big way.

  2. Lol. Ok this might be a YA book I could enjoy

  3. I've had this on my wishlist for ages, just waiting for a UK publisher to pick it up!

  4. Christina, thank you! I'm going to check this show out! ;) Blodeuedd and Ellie, I hope you will pick up this book soon, it was incredible! I don't really consider this YA, it's much more intricate than that, much more layered.


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