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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lost Meets Miss Teen Dream!
After reading Going Bovine I just had to give Libba Bray another shot. Her thoughtful, funny, heartbreaking take on "Mad Cow Disease" intrigued and moved me. I couldn't believe her latest YA geared novel would revolve around Beauty Queens, of all things! But, she pulls it off splendidly!

Beauty Queens is one of those rare books that makes you laugh out loud AND...
Published on April 28, 2011 by RPK

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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beauty is More Than Skin Deep
The most important thing to know before reading Beauty Queens is that this novel does not take itself seriously at all. It's a satirical take on the world of pageantry, and how society is forced to live up to ridiculous beauty standards and personal beliefs. The book begins with a plane crash on a remote desert island, but it's nowhere near as dramatic as the beginning of...
Published on May 16, 2011 by Jennifer


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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beauty is More Than Skin Deep, May 16, 2011
This review is from: Beauty Queens (Hardcover)
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The most important thing to know before reading Beauty Queens is that this novel does not take itself seriously at all. It's a satirical take on the world of pageantry, and how society is forced to live up to ridiculous beauty standards and personal beliefs. The book begins with a plane crash on a remote desert island, but it's nowhere near as dramatic as the beginning of Lost: The Complete Collection or even Lord of the Flies. Instead, it's written very tongue and cheek and you'll find it very hard not to chuckle your way through it. Only a small group of beauty queen contestants for the Teen Dream pageant are left. Taylor (Miss Texas) beats out Adina by just a few votes to lead the group. Instead of focusing on survival and rescue, Taylor wants the girls to continue with practicing for the pageant. Adina, an undercover teen reporter, thinks this is a foolish decision and that they need to learn how to keep themselves alive until rescue comes.

At first some of the girls might come off as shallow and not worth the time to even read Beauty Queens, but soon enough the reader learns that these girls are not what they seem. In fact, most of them (with the exception of Taylor) have bigger dreams than winning some stupid teenage pageant. Now forced to make decisions on their own, the Teen Dream contestants begin to explore friendship, sexuality, and what it really means to be beautiful.

Beauty Queens is quite the departure from the Gemma Doyle Trilogy, and was quite different than how I expected it would be. I appreciated how Bray pokes fun at society's obsession with looks, brands, and mainstream television, but I couldn't help feeling it was just slightly too over the top. She makes her point, and she makes it well, but in doing so it takes away the humanity of the characters. Because of this, I stopped thinking of the characters as actual people and more as representations of an idea.

Bray is definitely a talented writer, and I am amazed at the broad scope of her writing. Though Beauty Queens isn't what I'd personally consider her best work, it's still a fun, hilarious romp in the jungle with some very dynamic teenage girls who just happen to represent types of people that are often misunderstood by society even today.
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lost Meets Miss Teen Dream!, April 28, 2011
By 
RPK (Cleveland, Ohio) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Beauty Queens (Hardcover)
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After reading Going Bovine I just had to give Libba Bray another shot. Her thoughtful, funny, heartbreaking take on "Mad Cow Disease" intrigued and moved me. I couldn't believe her latest YA geared novel would revolve around Beauty Queens, of all things! But, she pulls it off splendidly!

Beauty Queens is one of those rare books that makes you laugh out loud AND keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole time. This book is a highly amusing and engaging story of beauty queens that crash land on an island. Bray has such a quirky way with her storytelling! I love that this felt like 'LOST' meets 'Miss America'.

There are a lot of slap-stick moments throughout that teens will enjoy and also a handful of more mature elements and issues that the girls face throughout the story and they all keep the reader glued to the pages and involved in the plot. I really enjoyed every second of this and that truly surprised me! The cover alone was enough to make me cringe but I have to admit that this was one truly enjoyable reading experience!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars similar style to Going Bovine, July 20, 2011
This review is from: Beauty Queens (Hardcover)
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I've read all of Libba Bray's books so far, and have enjoyed most of them. Well, sort of. After her last book, I decided that her style just isn't my taste and figured that would be that. But then I read the summary above. Sounds fantastic, right? Plus, the cover is hysterical. So, I got sucked into reading this book. And...

...Libba Bray's style just isn't my taste. I know this now, clearly and unmistakably, and I won't be picking up another of her books. So, keeping that in mind, here are my thoughts about Beauty Queens.

I will fully admit that I was mesmerized by beauty pageants when I was a kid. All those women looked so glamorous and perfect, and I thought they must have had better lives than mine. As I got older, I learned what pageant life is really like, and that completely changed the way I saw them. Beauty Queens is a spoof on pageants, and parts of it were very entertaining. Such as, Miss Texas's determination to keep practicing her walk, rehearsing for the show, and quizzing herself on interview questions despite the fact that only a fraction of the contestants survived the plane crash. Plus, a search of the plane turned up as many beauty products as food and water. Those are such obvious clichés that they're funny, and the story is chock full of them.

The parts I had difficulty with are specifically Bray's style. She takes reality and turns it around to the point that it's so clearly not possible and becomes funny. Well, funny for those who like that kind of humor. Beauty Queens is in the vein of Austin Powers meets The Naked Gun. I didn't care for either movie, and, hence, didn't care for this story. A girl with a tray sticking out of her head (but suffers from no medical trauma other than her 'look' is ruined) and snakes that snarf people like in cartoons just isn't my cup of tea.

Even more so, that kind of humor sets the tone of the book. So, later on when things start getting pretty far `out there,' I have no idea how to process it. Is Bray still trying to be funny, or is she trying to mix in a deeper message? If the latter, then the message got muddled in the crazy humor. At least, for me it did. I prefer a different balance of depth and humor.

That said, I have friends who would think this kind of thing is funny, and I'd definitely recommend this book to them and anyone else with a similar taste in humor. If you're not so keen on slapstick, though, you might want to skip it.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining author-narrated audiobook; be aware of some mature themes, March 15, 2012
By 
Sandy Kay (Twin Cities, Minnesota USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Beauty Queens - Audio (Audio CD)
This review is for the audio CD edition of the book. Because there are so many reviews of the book itself, I will concentrate my review on the audiobook features.

I really enjoy listening to books narrated by the author because then I get to hear the voices as the author intended them, rather than as I imagine them. This is particularly important in this book as the voices the author chose for the characters go a long way toward defining those characters.

Some of the voices are funny in a political sense. Teen listeners may not recognize Lady Bird Hope's voice as a recent Alaskan governor and potential Presidential candidate but it made me laugh. I also enjoyed when Shanti's accent changed partway through the book. There were some voices that didn't quite work for me. I was never sure what country the younger guys were supposed to have come from -- their accents were a bit of a mishmash (even the author admits those are not her best).

A book with a lot of footnotes and commercial breaks can be tricky to do as an audiobook. The producers here solved it with a musical tone to announce something different so I always knew when the narration was a footnote.

The announcement of the disc number was also a pleasant surprise. Rather than being simply announced, the author chose to have the character Tiara (a sweet but dumb girl with a voice to match) announce the disc numbers in character such as "disc number 7, that's the number of calories I am allowed at breakfast."

Although I am not generally discussing the book itself, I wanted to let parents know there are some more mature themes to be aware of for younger readers or if they want to monitor sex and violence in their children's reading. One of the characters is transgender, one is gay and another is bi-sexual. Several of the characters have sex.

And although the violence in the book generally comes off more cartoonish than scary, there is a good bit of violence and killing in the book and a bunch of it is done by one of the beauty queens who becomes more than a little deranged.

I thought the book was hilarious but also had some interesting moments when the beauty queens let the reader see the issues they had and how they learned to work together and not always be in competition.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Silly, fun satire. It's over the top funny!, May 31, 2011
By 
shortandsweet (California, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Beauty Queens (Hardcover)
From my blog Never Gonna Grow Up! Reviews:
Take pure silly fun, mix in some witty satire, and wrap it all up in a sparkly tiara and you have Libba Bray's "Beauty Queens". This book is over the top, crazy and absolutely priceless. I enjoyed every minute and found myself laughing out loud (which I rarely do) throughout.

It's the story of a group of competitive girls, stranded on a remote island, forced to figure out how to survive. They were vying for the Teen Dream crown, but now it's for their lives. Meanwhile, there is something fishy going on. One of the girls spots lights coming from the other side of the island and also - why hasn't anyone rescued them yet? In this world, things are run by "The Corporation" from what you watch on TV to what detergent you buy. Scattered throughout the book are little ads, interviews, and other randomness related to "The Corporation" and its products. How is "The Corporation" involved and can the girls survive without hot boys, lip gloss and flat irons? Well, you'll just have to read to find out.

Before I go on, I have a confession to make. I'm a former teen pageant girl. I was Miss Wisconsin Teen America for two consecutive Miss Teen America pageants. Yeah, I'm that cool. So, this book connected with me. It reminded me of the adventures I went through as a teen. I never really went any further with pageantry, but I went to a lot of them during "my reign". Libba Bray's characters did remind me of some of the interesting people I met during my pageant days. Though most of the girls I met were incredibly sweet and intelligent young ladies (and are still my friends today!), I met my fair share of characters too. Ahh.. the good ol' days.

Libba Bray's word play is brilliant. She plays it overly sweet with a bitter aftertaste. I love the character of "The Corporation" telling the story and the little footnotes, commercial breaks, and interviews thrown in throughout the novel. Ms. Bray also really plays up pop culture stereotypes. There is your smarty pants, your goody two-shoes, your lesbian, your transgender, etc. They are all portrayed in here. Yes, they are all pretty simple, but when dealing with a large cast in a satirical young adult novel, that's bound to happen. I was browsing around online and saw some people bashing on the stereotypes. Um, it's an over-the-top comedy, people. Take a chill pill. You need to come into this book looking for fun and cynicism. If that isn't your cup of tea, then move on, bucko! This book is NOT for you. It also deals with issues like drugs, violence, and sex so be sure to review it before passing it along to younger readers. I'm not really sure they'd get a lot of the satire either. Best to keep this for your older teen and adult readers.

I could go on and on about how much I enjoyed reading "Beauty Queens". This book is seriously too much fun and if you have an awesome sense of humor, like me (ha!), you should check out this book today. You will get to learn about fantastic products such as "Lady `Stache Off" and read great song lyrics like "I'm your emo eunuch". Seriously, does it get any better than that?

I received a copy of "Beauty Queens" by Libba Bray from the publisher for review. It is scheduled to be released to be released today (May 24th) by Scholastic.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Heavy handed and one-sided, August 17, 2011
This review is from: Beauty Queens (Hardcover)
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I have a love/hate relationship with pageants. I love all of the glitz and glamour but hate that there's not a whole lot of individuality to it. I love that they give girls a chance to become assertive, but I hate (REALLY hate) that it involves so much liberal application of spray tans and unrealistic amounts of makeup. The pageant world is a complicated affair where there are both pros and cons, which makes it such a perfect world to satirize. They make their own stereotypes without even trying, both in the pro and anti pageant groups.

Where the book goes wrong is in the delivery of its message. It's so heavy handed that the reader is never really given the chance to make their own choices about beauty pageants or how women can self actualize themselves. We're given one message that's crammed down our throats so thoroughly that it's actually pretty irritating, especially considering that our main character Adina (who is thoroughly anti-pageant and never really accepts any differing viewpoints) isn't that likable of a character. It also doesn't help that there's never any satirizing of the anti-pageant viewpoint like there was the pro-pageant viewpoint. Just as there are stereotypical pageant queens who believe that the only way to greatness is through a mascara brush, there are anti-pageant people who are overly rabid in their attempts to eliminate pageants and I felt that the elimination of this is what made the book so one-sided. In Bray's good intentioned attempt to write a book about female empowerment she forgot that the most basic form of empowerment is the ability to choose for ourselves what we want to believe. If someone wants to choose to tap dance across a pageant stage in a red sequined bikini then that's her right to choose so and she shouldn't be made to feel like less of a woman because she doesn't fit someone else's idea of "enlightenment". (The reverse is also true: nobody should be made to feel that they are less of a woman because they *don't* want to tap dance in a sequined pageant bikini.) What makes all of this the more aggravating is that I know that Bray never intended for her book to come across as "all pageants are evil, you can never find yourself unless you live and think exactly as Adina does". In the afterword she's mentioned that she would watch pageants as a kid (she sounds like she views pageants in much of the same light I do), but the book came across as though she'd really only ever watched Toddlers and Tiaras. (A show featuring awful pageant parents but not representative of pageant kids and parents as a whole.)

There are some fun parts to this book and I'd be lying if I said that I didn't experience a few giggles during the book. I appreciate the message that the book is trying to get across and I know that there are some who will really enjoy this read. I just can't help but feel that this book didn't live up to its full potential. I did get the impression that this would have been better served in a visual format (aka: a movie), though.

In the end I can't help but feel that this book could have been more than what it was. I know I'm going to get comments saying I didn't "get" the book, but this book was just too one-sided for me.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reading with Tequila, May 18, 2011
This review is from: Beauty Queens (Hardcover)
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I fell in love with Beauty Queens as soon as I read the synopsis. And then I impatiently waited months until it finally arrived on my doorstep. I pounced on it, read the entire thing in one sitting and found that my initial love was completely warranted. Beauty Queens is exactly what you expect from the synopsis and yet something so much deeper.

I expected a funny read and Beauty Queens did not disappoint. The humor was the kind that you don't exactly laugh, but kind of smirk to. It wasn't exactly the back-biting digs I expected from beauty queens, but a more subtle approach of letting the characters speak for themselves and allowing you to be the one to mock them (in your head, of course).

What truly blew me away was something I never saw coming - the fact that Beauty Queens is a novel stuffed with social issues. Social issues novels tend to be downers, and Beauty Queens is definitely not - even given the subject matter. The girls are messed up. Not from the crash, but from life in general. They're all competing for their own reasons, and the revelation of some of the motivating factors are pretty shocking. More than that, there is a strong female empowerment message here. Once the girls really start connecting and opening up to each other, they realize their sick of being "good" girls. They don't necessarily want to be bad girls, but they want the freedom to be themselves. As the girls come to terms with what that means, readers will likely be caught up in the idea right along with them. I'm a grown adult and this book had me wanting to stop behaving as I'm expected to. It was inspiring without ever seeming as though it was trying to be anything other than entertaining.

You'll find something unexpected in every page of Beauty Queens. It's chick lit, social issues, humor, action, adventure, survival, and body glitter packed into 400 pages of awesome.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars more than skin deep, June 15, 2011
This review is from: Beauty Queens (Hardcover)
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The plot of Beauty Queens sounds very simple on the surface: a plane full of teen beauty pageant contestants crash lands on a deserted island and must work together to survive. This could easily have just been an over-the-top comedy or book of catfights, but Bray uses her amazing skills as a story teller to turn this book in to so much more, using her sharp wit as a weapon to fight the battle for young girl's minds.

A small group of Miss Teen Dream contestants survive the plane crash and find themselves without their coaches, parents, or Corporation products, stranded on an island. Miss Texas takes charge and attempts to organize the group. She's a hardcore pageant girl and even after the crash, she has her eyes on the prize. Mixed in with the survivors is Miss New Hampshire, Adina. She is a journalist at her high school and signed up for the pageant as part of an elaborate scheme to expose it for the shallow, sexist event that it is. As the book goes on, we begin to discover the secrets and dreams of all the other girls on the island. None of them are just "pretty girls". Each of them has a life and decisions that has brought them to this point. And they will have to find their strength to survive what the island is about to throw at them.

I don't want to give to much away as this book was full of lots of wonderful surprises. At times, I found myself laughing out loud as Bray poked fun at our materialistic and beauty obsessed culture...though beneath that laugh was the sadness of how much damage has been done to women when it comes to this constant judgment put upon them. Other times, I found myself overwhelmed by the message of the book - the idea that young girls can work together, that young girls should take pride in every part of themselves, embrace their minds and bodies and be happy. It's a hard lesson that many of us still struggle to remind ourselves of every day.

Beauty Queens is an intelligent and fun read that went beyond my expectations (though I don't know why I was surprised, Bray's Going Bovine was one of my favorite books from 2009). Due to some of the content of the book, I would recommend this for readers 16 years and up. But I highly recommend getting this book into the hands of any young woman you want to learn to think outside the box and question what is sold to them on a daily basis. Bray's book is about acceptance - accepting yourself and accepting other. About separating what is sold to us with what we actually need to be happy.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't stop laughing, May 5, 2011
By 
S. Power (Austin, Texas, United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Beauty Queens (Hardcover)
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Beauty Queens by Libba Bray starts with a plane full of beauty queens crashing on a tropical island. A small group of contestants survives and right away they get working on what's important, practicing their dance numbers. The girls have lots of adventures on the island while waiting to be rescued (giant snakes! sparkly rescue flags! catching fish with flat irons!). they soon find out (dun dun dun) that the other half of the island is being run by the evil corporation that is weaponizing a hair remover and planning on selling it to a small enemy nation headed by a flamboyant dictator.

This book is absolutely hysterical. I laughed and laughed at all the crazy situations these beauty queens were thrown into. Each of the different beauty queens was distinctive and interesting and they all had a story as to why they did pageants and they all grew as women because of the crash. There's also quite a bit of crazy action from giant snakes to quick sand to explosions. It's a fantastic bit of satire with plenty of feminism thrown in for good measure, leaving the reader with a message that they should stop listening to outside influences and be who they want to be.

Appropriateness: This book is full of adult situations. One of the characters has sex (and demands that the guy use a condom, yay!) and two other do everything but. The scenes aren't erotic but there are descriptions of the heavy petting. There's quite a bit of language and enough girl part jokes to turn off male readers (who would be turned off by the title) The girls eat some berries that make them hallucinate and the girls get trashed. None of the material is inappropriate for the high school aged audience that the book is targeted towards and the ultimate message is a very positive one of self empowerment for girls. I would recommend this book for readers 14+ (Moms will like it too). The book is not as fluffy as one would expect by looking at the cover and is actually a fairly tough read that requires the reader to be able to understand satire.
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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just a little too much..., May 18, 2011
This review is from: Beauty Queens (Hardcover)
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I eagerly anticipated this book after having read Going Bovine with my teen book club. Because I read that novel, I realized that Libba Bray could present some crazy scenarios and over-the-top characters. She certainly does it again with this maybe too clever satire on beauty queens, beauty pageants, and all the implements and "talents" a girl needs in order to become a Miss Teen Dream.

A plane carrying the 50 contestants for a beauty pageant crashes on a deserted island. The surviving girls must figure out how to feed and shelter themselves until they are rescued. Because they are competitive, a few girls vie for the leadership role; the winner of that vote decides that while they are busy trying to stay alive that they will also keep practicing for the pageant that each desperately wants to win.

MEANWHILE, on the other side of the island is a secret compound hidden inside a volcano. Some bad men are planning some shenanigans with a greedy dictator. AND, in other evolving events, a ship of pirates lands on the same island. Guess what -- they are all young men who are stars of a reality show. Sounds crazy, right? Well the story does get somewhat ridiculous at this point and I sort of lost my taste for the continual subtle and not so subtle attempts at humor though at times I did laugh out loud at a particularly funny or sarcastic bit of prose. The real problem I had with the book, however, was that the author chose to put in TOO MUCH of everything. The graphic descriptions of sexual encounters, drug use, gays, lesbians and transgender love affairs, etc. might be way too much for the young adult age group that would be drawn to this book. I would suggest that interested parents read this first before giving it to or buying it for a younger teen. I'm also not sure that all younger readers would "get" the inside jokes.

I enjoyed the book, but after awhile it just got to be tiresome and instead of the early entertaining biting sarcasm, satire, and wit, it was ultimately predictable and a bit of a let-down.
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Beauty Queens
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (Paperback - June 1, 2012)
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