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Friday, December 28, 2012

Some of It I Loved, Some of It I Loathed ...

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

I rarely pick up a book based on its cover alone, but you have to admit there's something striking about the one above.  It's really rather brilliant.  Especially considering the premise behind Beauty Queens, Libba Bray's satirical novel about the (very shallow) way we define beauty.  Here's the jacket copy because, not only does it describe the story perfectly, but it also makes me laugh:
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 lean to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up?

Welcome to the heart of non-exfoliated darkness.
Fun, right?  And it is, it really is.  It's also hilarious, strange, ridiculous and, believe it or not, thought-provoking.  Although I don't agree with all the lessons the story teaches, I get the main one loud and clear—beauty is as beauty does.  A good moral.  In the end, though, several things kept me from absolutely loving Beauty Queens, namely the (fairly) graphic and (fairly) frequent sexual scenes between (just about) anyone and everyone.  Also, while I understand why Bray chose to tell the story the way she did, I think I would have preferred this one as a more straightforward tale of survival.  Because while I love the premise of Beauty Queens and the execution made me laugh, the novel just didn't totally win me over.  Would I recommend it?  I'm not even sure.  Some of it, I loved; some of it, I loathed.  Overall, I'm kind of ambivalent.

Have you read Beauty Queens?  What did you think?  

(Readalikes:  Hm, I can't think of anything.  Can you?)

Grade:  B-

If this were a movie, it would be rated:  R for language, sexual content, and violence

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of Beauty Queens from the generous folks at Scholastic.  Thank you!  


  1. I wonder if I saw I believe in Jesus too on your blog. I bought it for my daughter, we love it. Great discussion about diversity which is so important to me.

    Happy Hoidays

    1. Yes, I reviewed it here several months ago. I love it. It's a great book for kids. And diversity's important to me, too :)

  2. I agree with you...some things I loved...some things I really didn't like at all.

  3. I haven't read this one yet but I'd like to. Does it really have a bunch of sexual scenes? I didn't know that. Hmmm, now I'm wary. Isn't it YA?

    1. It does, yes, and not only between girls and boys. I considered putting the book down at several points because it got so raunchy, but dang it, the story was too compelling.

      It is YA, but that doesn't seem to matter too much these days -- BEAUTY QUEENS definitely earns its R rating.

  4. Oh, Libba Bray, why did you have to do it?? Gone Girl about sent me over the edge this year, I don't know if I really want to try this one based on your honest review and comments...BUT the premise does make it sound so enticing. Mmmm. I may need to ponder this.

    Hope your holiday was awesome. Enjoy the New Year! Happy 2013...


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