Every once in a while you come across a book and you realize that you have been waiting for it your entire life. That was our reaction to Libba Bray’s Beauty Queens.
Marketed as a cross between Lord of the Flies and Lost the novel finds a plane full of beauty queens stranded on a deserted island. Not only do they need to find a way to survive in their new environment, but they need to stay ready for their rescue. They are beauty queens after all and that title comes with a certain level of discipline and standards.
In this novel Libba Bray critiques contemporary media and pop culture, the portrayal of women and femininity. Bray also attempts to define the concept of beauty both personal opinions and those that society engrains in us. She does this through witty dialogue, laugh out loud humour and clever footnotes.
Since the cast of this book is rather large, between chapters Bray provides the readers with all of the characters applications to the beauty pageant. Bray also includes advertisements and interviews to help shape the world of her novel. And that world is fascinating. Bray creates a world that feels like a surreal parody of our own, advertisements say what they want to say without sugar coating their insults. Politicians and celebrities are so far removed from the reality they are practically aliens.
I refuse to apologize for all the Zoolander references in this post
But Bray never shames any of her characters for their beliefs or choices. Though the novel is making a point on the dangers of media and ridiculous female standards it never demonizes the girls for participating in them or questions their self worth.
Beauty Queens is a novel that we feel can be recommended to anyone. There is something for everyone here. Whether it be the thinly veiled Sarah Palin jokes or the shots at reality TV, give this book a read. You will not regret it.