Beauty Queens, by Libba Bray

Reviewed by Isabella, age 14, New Jersey

A plane filled with fifty beauty pageant contestants, each competing for the coveted Miss Teen Dream title, crashes on a remote island. The fifteen surviving girls believe that if they do what they were always taught - keep their heads held high and practice their pageant skills - then before long, they will be discovered and rescued. In fact, they are discovered - just not by the right people. Struggling to survive, the girls begin to question everything they used to know to be true.

Libba Bray once again proves her mastery of taking an unlikely concept and transforming it into an unforgettable novel in Beauty Queens. The story is unquestionably a satire dripping with sarcasm as she criticizes the high standards of femininity girls, and these girls in particular, must hold themselves to in today's society. Although heavy-handed at times, the book is not so much spitting as humorous, and touches on other themes as well, such as sexual orientation.

Despite the satiric nature of the plot, the story manages to shine through, especially towards the end of the novel. The girls slowly release themselves from the unrealistic societal expectations and constraints, and as they do so, they become much more developed characters. Some are quick to embrace their new "wild" life while others continue to cling to the Miss Teen Dream way, but all grow as characters through their obstacles. Each has her own section of the novel, with their individual stories tying neatly together at the end.

With its themes of sexuality and female empowerment as well as its brilliant approach to satire, Beauty Queens stands out among recent young adult releases. The messages occasionally come off as too strong and preachy, but overall this is a hilarious read that is sure to please fans of Libba Bray.

I give Beauty Queens 4 out of 5 stars.

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February & March Magazine Issues

March 15, 2012

The February and March issues of Sweet Designs Magazine are now online, featuring a combined 53 new articles and features!!

- Cover: Stephanie Lynn reflects on 5 years
- Cover: India (of Darn-licious knitwear)
- Life in the dumps (moving in with my bf)
- The difference between men and women
- Angels among us (parts 1 and 2)
- Arts graduates & the dark night of the soul
- Triple threat (how I survived my teen yrs)
- Dating isn't easy (my true story)
- How to turn not-so-great gifts ... (fashion)
- Ten reasons to love being single
- Taking the big leap (college)
- Valentine's Day (not what you'd expect!)
- The last of the cold (hopefully) (fashion)
- A month full of love
- Ten tips for successful airline travel
- Reasons I love writing for SDM
- Who needs love?
- They're not all the same
- The life I'm glad I don't have (fiction)
- Professional dress/ finding Fendi (fashion)
- An airport anniversary: a true story
- Inappropriate Facebook photos
- The perks of a big city (college)
- A night(mare) to forget (part 2)
- The Anita Blake series (book review)
- Saving June by Hannah Harrington (book)
- Under the Mesquite by GG McCall (book)
- The Lullaby by Sarah Dessen (book)
- If I Stay by Gayle Foreman (book review)
- My sweetheart (original poetry)
- Isn't it funny (original poetry)
- The stranger (original poetry)
- A winter wonderland (original poetry)
- One night valentine
- The thick envelopes (college acceptance)
- Southern love
- Healthy hair and vitamins
- It's a date (dating idea alternatives)
- The 30 hour famine
- School's out forever!
- Marching right back into spring? (fashion)
- Dear John
- When TV shows depict your life
- 3 Fun ways to rock spring's hottest trends
- Neglected teeth
- Starting something new
- Guy movies
- To hesitate or dive in?
- Deadly, by Julie Chibbaro (book review)
- Beastly, by Alex Flinn (book review)
- I don't care (poetry)
- Together, alone (poetry)

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