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.