Hello, my lovely people!
Who wants to hear about a book starring beauty queens on a “deserted” island, complete with a global conspiracy and deadly flora and fauna? I do!
Welcome to Beauty Queens by Libba Bray.
Adina: Adina is Miss New Hampshire. She joined Miss Teen Dream so she could take it down from the inside. Her plan is to write a journalistic expose on the whole process. She is also the only vocally Jewish girl int he competition.
Petra: Petra is Miss Rhode Island. She used to be J.T. Woodland, member of globally popular boyband Boyz Will B Boyz. She’s pre-op and needs the prize money for Miss Teen Dream to afford the procedure.
Taylor: Miss Texas. She has wanted to be a beauty queen since her mom ran off when she was six. She’s pretty well-trained in military tactics, since she grew up moving from military base to military base.
Mary Lou: Miss Nebraska is a good Christian girl with a purity ring. She is excellent at following orders.
Brittani and Tiara: Misses Alabama and Mississippi. I put them together because it is hard to tell them apart (the author’s words, not mine). Neither of them are exactly “book smart,” but both of them have their own talents that help with survival.
Shanti: Shanti is Miss California. Her parents immigrated from India, and her handler told her to use that as her main selling point in competition. She wants to be a scientist after she graduates high school and needs the scholarship money for college.
Nicole: Miss Colorado is the only black girl in Miss Teen Dream. She and Shanti have a bit of a feud, because she wants to be a doctor and also needs the scholarship money for school. They also understand that Miss Teen Dream won’t place both a brown and a black girl.
Jennifer: Miss Michigan is a juvenile delinquent who joined Miss Teen Dream as a way to get structure in her life. She’s a lesbian and is comfortable in her body and her sexuality.
Sosie: Miss Illinois is deaf and questioning her sexuality. She and Jennifer quickly become an item. She is also an indisputable badass (although, most of the girls can claim that title).
The pirates: Yes, there are pirates. most of them remain unnamed, but we specifically meet Sinjin J. Sinjin (captain), Duff (asshole), George, and Chu. They’re cast members of a “reality” show about some British boarding school boys on the run after they witness a murder.
Ladybird Hope, MoMo B. ChaCha, and the Corporation: Ladybird is a former Miss Teen Dream and head of the Corporation, and ChaCha is the dictator of an authoritarian society comparative to North Korea. The two of them decide to work together.
The Beauty Queens in Miss Teen Dream experience a plane crash, and some of them survive and find themselves on an isolated tropical island. Over the time they are there, they need to discover themselves and what they really want in life. Every girl is subjected to her own journey of self-discovery. They also have to make do without the beauty products they’ve been using all their lives (lipsticks, dresses, makeup, hair curlers, high heels, and other products are in short supply on a deserted island following a plane crash). The number of ways they find to use island products for their beauty routines is truly ingenious.
Meanwhile, the Corporation, a company who sponsors Miss Teen Dream and has control over basically most of the world, has an ulterior motive. Instead of simply creating countless shows and products that teach young women that they must be timid, beautiful, self-conscious, and virtuous, they also want to control the world’s politics. Ladybird Hope is running for president and dealing with MoMo B. ChaCha.
While on the island they thought was deserted, the Miss Teen Dreamers discover a shipload of famous “pirates” (that are surprising and attractive), a conspiracy between the Corporation and ChaCha, and a number of deadly flora and fauna that may just be usable for their complexions.
Libba Bray is a genius. Throwing a bunch of young beauty queens onto a deserted island without any adult supervision? Showing us through multiple perspectives what is important to each girl? Adding honest-to-God commercial breaks in the book to make it feel like another Corporation product? Truly an art.
Beauty Queens shows the complexity of our young girls by having a diverse cast and larger-than-life supporting characters. Sure, it’s obvious that it’s an exaggeration, but it is an exaggeration of real life. Big corporations really do use their products and media to tell young women how to behave and feel and present themselves. Big corporations often have ulterior motives, too.
This book is a satirical presentation of our current social and media climate, so it’s both amusing and insightful.
Rating: 4 out of 5 diamonds. And yes, this one is on my shelf (take a look at my bookshelf to see what else I have. I own some good ones).
Thank you so much for stopping by! If you’ve read it, let me know what you thought of Beauty Queens. If not, are you going to read it? What other books should I check out?
See you on Sunday!