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Beauty Queens by Libba Bray - Review

Beauty Queens

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I liked Beauty Queens so much more than I initially expected! Beauty pageants aren't my cup of tea, at all, but a hilarious story about a group of plane crash survivors who are all Miss Teen Dream contestants on a "deserted" island sure is right up my alley. I now know I will have to read more Libba Bray - and by the way she made an excellent narrator for this satire!

You've already got the gist of the story, but there's so much more going on including a top secret base, reality tv show pirates, an Elvis wannabe dictator called MoMo B. Chacha and his second in command called General Good Times who's really a stuffed lemur, The Corporation (read: Acme) seemingly in charge of nearly everything, and a power-hungry presidential hopeful.

The contestants are torn between continuing to practice their talent routines and await saving, or attempting to fend for themselves on a dangerous island with few scavenged supplies.

The surviving contestants start off as a collection of kind of annoying stereotypes, some expected and some not at all. Bray, for the most part, manages to develop these characters pretty well, and at times their journey was a little surprising. Like other reviewers, I was expecting a cross between Lost, The Lord of the Flies, and Mean Girls, but that's not quite the proper way to describe it. Sure it had few elements of them, but it was a good deal more empowering than both. The characters manage to work together, learn about themselves and each other, and are able to go beyond their labels.

In Beauty Queens, Bray manages to take on issues of gender and sexuality, race and racism, beauty ideals, femininity, self-identity, and how all of the above is viewed by the media. Basically, the bottom line is to unapologetically be yourself - whether you want to wear makeup, heels, and fancy dresses or not.

Favorite moments:

-Charles Dickens puns in Chapter 22

-Sonic screwdriver reference - Allons-y!

-Lost reference in Chapter 3

-Ladystache Off doubles as a incendiary

-Ladybird Hope seems remarkably like Sarah Palin

-“Why do girls always feel like they have to apologize for giving an opinion or taking up space in the world? Have you ever noticed that?” Nicole asked. "You go on websites and some girl leaves a post and if it’s longer than three sentences or she’s expressing her thoughts about some topic, she usually ends with, ‘Sorry for the rant’ or ‘That may be dumb, but that’s what I think.’”

-"Really, being a librarian is a much more dangerous job than you realize" - Chapter 41, Footnote 50

-"I'm from the Buckeye State - we are serious about our tailgating parties. I can turn anything into a grill."

-"If those ladies are in trouble then by Blackbeard we'll stand with 'em and fight so let's turn this ship around! One for all and all for one, ladies included, even playing field, what's fair for the goose is fair for the gander, damn the torpedos, don't stop til you get enough, rock the casbah, God save the Queen, and full speed ahead!" - Captain St. John Saint St. John

-The Git R Done 447 Personal Safety® handgun commercial - eerily similar to The BackUp Bedside Gun Rack

-Tiara's very Miss South Carolina from the Miss America Pageant 2007

-"Maybe girls need an island to find themselves. Maybe they need a place where no one's watching them so they can be who they really are. - Mary Lou in Chapter 15

-Loch Lomond's (aka Scottish James Bond) catchphrase: "I'll have the haggis, boiled not fried."

Finally, I recommend Libba Bray's Beauty Queens. If you like sharp satire, Lost, Mean Girls, The Lord of the Flies, and maybe even Cabin in the Woods (definitely got those kind of vibes from the secret base), you may like this book. I know I will be reading more Libba Bray in the future!

I read this from April 30 - May 6, 2014 and my review is also on Goodreads.


  1. I just finished this book last week and ADORED it! I loved listening to this book in audiobook form because Libba Bray has the most fantastic voices for MoMo B. Chacha and Ladybird Hope (Sarah Palin indeed) -- I couldn't help laughing out loud throughout (but especially during the Charles Dickens puns part -- also a favorite of mine)!
    Wonderful review, couldn't agree more! Gwen.

    1. Yay! The audio was absolutely brilliant - I was really able to get into the audio! I definitely laughed out loud quite a few times. :D


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