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Beauty Queens - Audio Audio CD – Audiobook, CD

3.9 out of 5 stars 376 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

From bestselling, Printz Award-winning author Libba Bray comes the story of a plane of beauty pageant contestants that crashes on a desert island.

Teen beauty queens. A Lost-like island. Mysteries and dangers. No access to emall. And the spirit of fierce, feral competition that lives underground in girls, a savage brutality that can only be revealed by a journey into the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Oh, the horror, the horror! Only funnier. With evening gowns. And a body count.


A Q&A between Author Libba Bray and… Libba Bray

Q: Hi Libba. I understand that today I have the opportunity to interview you. Er, me. Us?
A: Will this be on the test?
Q: God, I hope not. How about I’ll be “Q” and you’ll be “A.”
A: Sure. Figures you’d get to be the exotic, Scrabble-tastic letter. Mom always liked you best.

Q: So your new book, Beauty Queens, is about a planeload of teen beauty queens who crash on a “deserted” island, which turns out to be the location of a rogue operation running a super-secret arms deal. Hijinks ensue.
A: Wow, that’s exactly what I would’ve said.
Q: Admit it: This was your chance to scratch your James Bond itch.
A:
Well, you may only live twice, but I’ve seen all the Bond movies about a dozen times. I like it when things blow up. If they can blow up with sequins, so much the better.

Q: The book satirizes consumer culture, reality TV, politics, rom-coms, the beauty industry, and religion while exploring issues of gender, race, sexuality, beauty, and identity.
A:
And things go ‘splodey. Don’t forget.
Q:
And things go ‘splodey. In more ways than one. What was the inspiration for this book?
A:
I signed a contract, for starters. The less prosaic answer is that years ago over lunch, my editor David Levithan said, “A colleague and I came up with an idea and you have to write it: A plane carrying teen beauty pageant survivors crashes on an island. And…scene!” I thought it sounded like great, campy fun—a chance for a feminist take on Lord of the Flies. The intervening years have seen some pretty profound and depressing setbacks for women, not just legislatively but in entertainment, too. We went from “Norma Rae” and “Mary Tyler Moore” to “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” and “Bride Wars.” I was at the store, and even the product names suggested we were broken in some way—“repair” “correct” “age defying.” I think there was one product targeted for men and it had some really straightforward name like “Moisturizing Lotion. For Men.” No judgment just, “Oh, hey, you have dry skin? Here’s a product to help with that, dude.” The end.

Anyway, I kept coming back to Lord of the Flies. Golding paints a pretty grim picture of humanity. Without the trappings of civilization, the boys devolve into savagery. But for the girls in Beauty Queens, it’s almost the opposite: Without the expectations & pressures of civilization, they have the freedom to be themselves—or at least to start figuring out who they might be. Mint?

Q: Thank you.
A:
You’re welcome. This is so Meta, isn’t it? Seems like James Franco should be here.
Q:
I’m starting to understand what people mean when they say you’re odd and a little annoying.
A:
Harsh. I don’t treat you this way. Remember, I’m a delicate flower. You know, like the Venus Flytrap. Or Audrey II.

Q: Moving on. I know you like to create a playlist for everything you write. What was on this one?
A:
Oh. You know. (knowing wink)
Q:
Er, yes. I do. But maybe other people would like to know.
A:
Oh. Sure. No problem. There were thirty-six songs, including: Beauty Queen/Roxy Music, Mystery Girl/The Yeah YeahYeahs, Guyana Punch/The Judys, Paper Planes/M.I.A., Diamonds Are Forever/Shirley Bassey, Porpoise Song (Theme from “Head”)/The Monkees, Teenage Dream/T-Rex. And of course, Ladybird by Nancy Sinatra in honor of Ladybird Hope, one of the many characters readers will meet in Beauty Queens.

Q: Speaking of Ladybird Hope, presidential hopeful and the most famous Miss Teen Dream who ever lived, author of Get Scared, America!—any truth to the rumor that she bears a passing resemblance to a certain former governor from Alaska?
A:
Sorry, I can’t answer that. I just put food in my mouth.
Q:
But… you’re typing these answers.
A:
mlwmwhahhadkeow.

Q: Hoo-kay…there are commercials for TV shows in the book, like “Pirates Bodacious IV: Badder and More Bodaciouser”, and products like Lady ‘Stache Off and Maxi-Pad Pets, the revolutionary fashion maxi-pad that makes you feel like you’ve got a special friend in your pants. Were you drawing on your former life as an advertising copywriter?
A:
No. I just really like writing about maxi-pads.

Q: You also recorded the audio book for this one. Was that a fun experience?
A:
Very much so. I’m indebted to the amazing team of director Bob Deyan, producer Paul Gagne, and engineer Mark Ahronson, who really led the way. In the booth, I discovered that my New Zealand accent stinks, my English accent isn’t any better, and by hour eight or nine, even my American accent wasn’t too keen. Also, in the future, I will only be writing three-word sentences. I’m sorry.

Q: Miss Texas plays a prominent role in the book. And you’re originally from Texas. What is it about Texas and beauty queens?
A:
I’m from the hometown of two former Miss Americas. Gotta say, I’ve got a soft spot for women who can twirl flaming batons to “Cotton-Eyed Joe” while wearing non-flame-retardant sequined leotards. It’s our version of Fight Club. We also have the highest number of state executions. I’m sure those two facts aren’t related, though.

Q: Okay, I’m cutting you off. One last question: What’s the single best thing you’ve ever read about your writing?
A:
After The Sweet Far Thing (the third book in the Gemma Doyle Trilogy) came out, a very sad reader wrote to voice her opposition to a choice I made near the end of the novel. “I know why you did it. You are an eco-friendly fembot who survives on the tears of teen girls. With the tears I have shed, you will live forever.” I swear I wanted to cross-stitch that on a pillow. It’s awesome.

Q: Thanks for talking with me today, Libba. (Me? Us? Oh, I’m so confused…) Anything else you want people to know about Beauty Queens before we go?
A:
Yes. It will soften your skin while you sleep!
Q:
That’s a lie.
A:
Fiction is made of lies. And pretty fonts.
Q:
Say goodbye, Libba.
A:
I just did. Whoa. This is doing my head in.
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

Praise for Libba Bray

"Libba Bray not only breaks the mold... she smashes it and grinds the tiny pieces into the sidewalk. For the record, I'd go anywhere she wanted to take me." —The New York Times Book Review

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Audio CD: 12 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Audio Books; Unabridged edition (May 24, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0545315239
  • ISBN-13: 978-0545315234
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.2 x 5.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (376 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,525,530 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jennifer VINE VOICE on May 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
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.
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Format: 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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When satire is done well, I mean really well, there is nothing like it. The subtle (or not so subtle) poking of fun at society is so skillful, you almost don't recognize it at first. I love to teach Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five to my senior literature classes because satire is such an interesting literary tool for inward self-realization. But Young Adult literature doesn't often touch satire; I guess because it is a sophisticated method of writing? But Libba Bray wasn't afraid to break down the boundaries for YA lit with Beauty Queens. She wrote a hilarious, scathing, and eerily familiar satire that will have you laughing and reflecting the whole time you plow through this "beauty"!

When 50 girls, one from each state, fly to the Miss Teen Dream contest, they didn't expect a plane crash on a deserted island. They especially didn't expect to have to learn to survive on their own. Only a handful of girls survive the crash, and all the adults are killed. The girls that do survive are a motley crew, full of a transgender former boy band singer, an anti-pageant feminist who plans to take Miss Teen Dream down from the outside, a die-hard Texan beauty queen, a budding young lesbian, and a girl with a severe hearing impairment, among others. The minorities are of course represented, as they should always be, with an Indian girl who touts her immigrant success story, but is really just a valley girl, and a black girl from Colorado who everyone notices doesn't "talk black". That's right, all your cliches and stereotypes are present and accounted for!

The Corporation runs the pageant, as well as most of the world. They create/control most TV, products, and even the secret (or not-so-secret) arms deals.
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