Friday, June 17, 2011

Beauty Queens

Title: Beauty Queens

Author: Libba Bray

Pages: 390

Rating: *****

Summary (from Goodreads): From bestselling, Printz Award-winning author Libba Bray, 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 email. 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.

Review: When I first heard about this book, I knew I had to read it. Libba Bray is a brilliant writer, and the moral of this story is definitely one we need to share in our society that is so focused on looks.
I don't think I truly understood what a satire could be before I read this book, which is 100% satire. From the product names to The Corporation's slogans ("Because there's nothing wrong with you...that we can't fix"), I was almost gagging. Obviously we aren't to the level the country is in this novel, but we are certainly headed in that direction. The standards of beauty are constantly being set higher and higher, especially for women. When does it stop?
I found I didn't have a favorite character in this book. What I enjoyed the most was following each girl as she either found herself or accepted herself for who she was, not what her parents or The Corporation or anyone wanted her to be. I also liked how it was strictly focused on girl power--yes, the hott pirates come in for a little bit, but they don't save the damsels in distress (quite the opposite, actually...). This story is not a romance book--it's a story of female empowerment and fighting society's expectations of beauty.
When most people think of feminism, they think of the extremists (don't we always immediately define a sanction by the extremists?), burning bras and whatnot, but the story of this book shows the true definition of feminism--girls breaking out of their shells to realize they can be whoever they want to be. Their worth in the world doesn't depend on their dress size or if they have a crown or not. I'm not trying to say guys aren't held up to ridiculously high standards as well (there is some objectifying of the hot pirates, I'll admit), but it seems more strict with girls.
With its kick-ass themes, sparkle, snakes, pirates, and satire, Beauty Queens is a memorable, moving book about the true meaning of beauty. And isn't the cover awesome?!

Recommended for: anyone really, but probably teen girls for the most part.