Beauty Queens

Beauty Queens

3.7 196
by Libba Bray

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From bestselling, Printz Award-winning author Libba Bray, a desert island classic.

Survival. Of the fittest.

The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream Pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea,

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From bestselling, Printz Award-winning author Libba Bray, a desert island classic.

Survival. Of the fittest.

The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream Pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea, crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner.
What's a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program - or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan - or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up?
Welcome to the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Your tour guide? None other than Libba Bray, the hilarious, sensational, Printz Award-winning author of A Great and Terrible Beauty and Going Bovine. The result is a novel that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you never see beauty the same way again.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Praise for Beauty Queens:

“'Beauty Queens' is a madcap surrealist satire of the world in which her readers have come of age – reality TV, corporate sponsorship, product placement, beauty obsession – but ultimately, it's a story of empowering self-discovery.” – New York Times Book Review

* “Readers will come for the twisted fun and walk away with a whole banquet of questions.” – Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, starred review

* “Whip-smart social commentary, surreal plot elements, and feminist themes come together in this bizarre and brilliant story…. The empowering theme of self-acceptance and the affirming message that women should not underestimate themselves or others makes this novel a potentially life-changing book for budding feminists.” – School Library Journal, starred review

“Though the jokes fly thick as unplucked brows, Bray also goes deeper into each character to show how our culture's insidious focus on female perfection keeps girls from being who they are. … Escaping civilization–the best thing that could happen to a teenage girl? Sure looks that way.” – Horn Book

“Bray spins this hilarious romp into an examination of femininity and feminism, sex and sexuality.” – Booklist

Whitney Joiner
Beauty Queens is a madcap surrealist satire of the world in which her readers have come of age—reality TV, corporate sponsorship, product placement, beauty obsession—but ultimately, it's a story of empowering self-discovery.
—The New York Times
Mary Quattlebaum
The snappy dialogue, plot surprises and strut-their-stuff characters lend a playful but no less profound tone to Bray's theme of female empowerment.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Bray follows her Printz Award–winner, Going Bovine, with an only slightly less absurd premise in this out-there satire about a planeload of teen beauty queens who crash onto a (not so) deserted island. Lord of the Flies with an evening gown competition, anyone? Led by the indefatigable Miss Texas, Taylor Rene Krystal Hawkins, the 14 surviving contestants must rely on competitive moxie. Despite the large cast, Bray makes the Misses distinctive, though each is more a stand-in for a particular brand of diversity than a fully dimensional teenager (one's black, one's deaf, one's gay, one is a boy in the process of becoming a girl). Poor Miss New Mexico stands out because she has a serving tray embedded in her forehead. ("Bangs are the new black!") Halfway through the ordeal, a boat full of shirtless, reality TV pirates runs aground, allowing for some smoking hot scenes. Fun footnotes, contestant profiles, and scripted commercial breaks are interspersed. There's a lot of message, but every time the story veers toward sermonizing, Bray corrects with another crack about our media-saturated, appearance-obsessed, consumer-driven society. Ages 13–up. (May)
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Whip-smart social commentary, surreal plot elements, and feminist themes come together in this bizarre and brilliant story about a group of beauty pageant contestants stranded on a remote island after a plane crash. Undaunted by disaster, the teens hone their survival skills as they practice dance routines and pageant interviews, while a ruthless corporation secretly plans to use them as pawns in an arms deal with an insane dictator. Beneath an entertaining veneer of witty dialogue and comic absurdity lies a thought-provoking exploration of society's expectations for how young women should look, feel, think, and act. Wry footnotes lampoon the media and pop culture, while hilariously scripted "commercial breaks" interrupt the narrative, leading readers to question the pervasiveness of self-improvement products that make consumers feel inadequate. Using multiple points of view to tell the story, Bray rises admirably to the challenge of developing a large cast of characters. Each pageant contestant possesses much more than surface-level beauty, and even the most stereotypically ditzy girl offers unique and unexpected strength. Readers from all backgrounds will identify with the representation of various religions, ethnicities, and sexual orientations among the characters. Occasional strong language and a frank approach to sex may make this novel most appropriate for older teens. The empowering theme of self-acceptance and the affirming message that women should not underestimate themselves or others makes this novel a potentially life-changing book for budding feminists.—Allison Tran, Mission Viejo Library, CA
Children's Literature - Loretta Caravette
Beauty Queens is a twelve disc audio set; over fourteen hours, but it is worth the time and effort. Read by the author; Libba Bray breathes life into her characters. Her performance is almost Oscar Award worthy as she has perfected 12 different and unique voices. These voices are consistent throughout the 12 discs. Beauty Queens is about the participants in the Miss Teen Dream pageant. Fifty girls, one from each state in the US, are flying to a fun place in the sun to rehearse for the upcoming pageant. Unfortunately, the plane crashes near a deserted island killing all but 12 girls between the ages of 16-18. With no adults, no way to call home and very little food, Miss Texas snaps into action and keeps the girls focused on the pageant and rehearsals. But they quickly realize that more needs to be done if they don't want to starve to death. So, they design ways to gather water for drinking by using parts of their gowns, they make spears to catch fish and design living huts. However, the island they thought was deserted is actually the hidden headquarters of the Corporation, a company out to take over the world. Through twists and turns the girls are challenged and called upon to go beyond just a pretty face. This book represents just about every personality and type: transgender, petulant anti-pageant, lesbian, deaf, an India native, African, the ditzy blonde, and a nice girl to name a few. When the pirates arrive, yes, pirates (the movie kind not the bad kind), the girls encounter a cross-dresser, a thoughtful stud and a not so nice stud. There are men in black, a little romance, a little sex, but mostly girls taking control of their hopeless situation and really come up winners in this fun, easy-to-listen-to audio book. It will make a good addition to a summer list. Reviewer: Loretta Caravette
Children's Literature - Sarah Maury Swan
What a great tongue-in-cheek story of contestants in the Miss Teen Dream pageant whose plane crashes on a supposedly deserted tropical island, leaving them to fend for themselves—sort of a mash-up of Lost, 90120, and Beach Blanket Bingo. Miss Team Dream of Texas, Taylor Rene Krystal Hawkins, takes charge, insisting the girls keep practicing their contest routines so they'll be ready when their pageant leader—Ladybird Hope—sends a rescue crew for them. Of course Ms. Hope is not who Taylor thinks she is. Not only does she not send a rescue team, she plots to have the girls murdered and blame their deaths on the tyrannical leader of a small country which Ladybird hopes to take over. The girls discover hidden talents in themselves as they organize to stay alive, fighting off the bad guys who have a secret hideaway on the island making weaponized face cream designed by Ladybird Hope. The girls make weapons out of lipstick hurled with sling shots and set traps and lairs, among other clever devices designed to thwart their enemies. Taylor doesn't take kindly to Ladybird's betrayal and turns feral. A lot of good chuckles in this book and Bray has done an outstanding job of giving each character a unique voice. The one thing I found a bit overdone were the so called "commercial breaks," which were actually the author's way of including her own thoughts on the cosmetics industry and beauty pageants in general. Still, the message is good and the story is well written. Reviewer: Sarah Maury Swan
Kirkus Reviews

This inventive satire mocks celebrity culture while celebrating the resilience of teen girls.

Printz Award–winning author Bray (Going Bovine, 2009) plunges into cultural criticism with her latest teen novel. The plane carrying the 50 Miss Teen Dream Pageant contestants crashes on a remote desert island, and the survivors must channel the skills that made them successful on runways to keep themselves alive until they can be rescued. ("From Ladybird Hope'sI'm Perfect and You Can Be Too, Chapter Three: 'A lady's quick thinking can save a bad situation.' She was talking about putting nail polish on a runner in your hose, but I think the same rule applies here.") Unfortunately, their sponsor decides there is better press in avenging their deaths than in mounting a rescue and sets that scenario in motion. An encounter with the stars of a pirate-themed reality-TV show highlights their vulnerability. By now, though, genuine survival skills have been honed, and the teens foil the dastardly plot. While the foibles of today's media/celebrity/political culture are the clear target of this stinging satire, the teen cast is funny and endearing in its own right. As the story unfolds, each girl's back story and actions under duress reveal a unique character.

The humor is both dark and madcap, including footnote asides and commercial scripts that keep the laughs coming.(Fiction. 14 & up)

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Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.75(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

A Word From Your SponSor

This book begins with a plane crash. We do not want you to worry about this. According to the U.S. Department of Unnecessary Statistics, your chances of dying in a plane crash are one in half a million. Whereas your chances of losing your bathing suit bottoms to a strong tide are two to one. So, all in all, it's safer to fly than to go to the beach. As we said, this book begins with a plane crash. But there are survivors. You see? Already it's a happy tale. They are all beauty queen contestants. You do not need to know their names here. But you will get to know them. They are all such nice girls. Yes, they are nice, happy, shining, patriotic girls who happen to have interests in baton twirling, sign language, AIDS prevention in the animal population, the ancient preparation of popadam, feminine firearms, interpretive dance, and sequins. Such a happy story. And shiny, too. This story is brought to you by The Corporation: Because Your Life Can Always Be Better™. We at The Corporation would like you to enjoy this story, but please be vigilant while reading. If you should happen to notice anything suspicious in the coming pages, do alert the proper authorities. Remember, it could be anything at all — a subversive phrase, an improper thought or feeling let out of its genie bottle of repression, an idea that challenges the status quo, the suggestion that life may not be what it appears to be and that all you've taken for granted (malls, shopping, the relentless pursuit of an elusive happiness, prescription drug ads, those annoying perfume samples in magazines that make your eyes water, the way anchormen and women shift easily from the jovial laughter of a story about a dog that hula-hoops to a grave report on a bus crash that has left five teenagers dead) may be no more consequential than the tattered hem of a dream, leaving you with a bottomless, free-fall feeling. This is the sort of thing we are warning you about. But let's not worry, shall we? There's nothing to worry about. Though there is the threat of a war, it happens in the background, in snippets on the nightly news between ads for sinus medicines. It's none of our concern. This is a happy story. Now, our story begins, as so many happy stories do, with a blue, blue sky. A blue, blue sky punctuated by thick white clouds; they drift across the expanse like semicolons, reminding us that there is more to come. The pilot, a man in his forties who once stayed on a mechanical bull for a full eight seconds, has just turned off the fasten seat belts sign. The flight is on its way to a remote tropical paradise where the girls will compete against one another for the title of Miss Teen Dream. Oh, dear. Compete is a rather ugly word, isn't it? After all, these are such lovely girls, pure of heart and high of spirits. Let's say that they will be "drawing on their personal best," and some girls will "proceed on a path of Miss Teen Dreamdom" while others will "have the option to explore other pageant opportunities elsewhere at an unspecified future time." Ah. There. That's much better, isn't it? The pilot and copilot, whose names are not important to our tale, are trading stories with each other, as they may be wont to do in those mysterious quarters beyond the galley. We cannot truly know. We do know that in just a few moments, they will struggle valiantly to land the plane on a small scrub of island in the middle of the ocean. They will be partly successful. On the other side of the cockpit door, fifty girls smile and preen and pose for the cameras. One girl confesses this is her first plane ride as she stares out the window, her mouth open in awe, her mind completely unbothered by thoughts of who will live and who will "have her living options curtailed."1 In the cabin, the pilot notes the red light and abandons his story. Flames erupt from the right engine. The turbine breaks into useless slivers. Vibrations shake the plane, causing it to pitch and wobble. The view from the right is now marred by a billowing plume of black smoke. And so our tale begins with a sudden fall from blue skies, with screams and prayers and a camera crew bravely recording every bit of the turbulence and drama: What a lucky break for their show! How the producers will crow! Ratings will skyrocket! Suddenly terse flight attendants rush through the aisles barking orders, securing latches on the agitating overhead bins. One girl leads the others in a song about Jesus being her copilot, which makes them feel better, as if, even as they assume crash-landing positions with their arms over their heads, a bearded man in white robes and sandals is strapping on a headset and grabbing the controls. The right engine quits entirely, and there is a brief period of absolute silence. In the pressurized air of the cabin, a hopeful, euphoric feeling swells behind the lacy underwires guarding the chests of these girls — the thought that perhaps there was nothing to be frightened about after all, that they've escaped a grisly fate and are now being given a second chance. Through the left-side windows, they can see the strange, verdant land taking shape, growing bigger as they descend. It's beautiful. They will land safely, no matter the sudden near-vertical descent. They're sure of it. After all, these are can-do girls from a nation built upon dreams. And what is the earsplitting scream of metal against metal, the choking smoke, the sensation of falling through a surprisingly uncaring sky, against such unshakable dreams? 1 You look worried. Really, you should relax. Reading is a pleasurable activity and worrying is bad for your heart. ChApter one "Are you all right?" The voice was tinny in Adina's ears. Her head ached, and she was wet. She remembered the plane pitching and falling, the smoke and screams, the panic, and then nothing. "Am I dead?" she asked the face looming over hers. The face had apple cheeks and was framed by a halo of glossy black curls. "No." "Are you dead?" Adina asked warily. The face above her shook from side to side, and then burst into tears. Adina relaxed, reasoning that she had to be alive, unless the afterlife was a lot more bipolar than she'd been led to believe. She pulled herself to a sitting position and waited for the wooziness to subside. A gash on her knee was caked in dried blood. Another on her arm still seeped. Her dress was ripped and slightly scorched and she wore only one shoe. It was one half of her best pair, and in her state of shock, finding the other became important. "Can you help me find my shoe?" "Sure. I saw some in the water. I hope they're not leather," the other girl said in an accent flat as a just-plowed field. She had huge, blue, anime-worthy eyes. "I'm Miss Nebraska, Mary Lou Novak." "Adina Greenberg. Miss New Hampshire." Adina cupped her hands over her eyes, looking out toward the sea. "I don't see it." "That's a shame. It's a real nice shoe." "Roland Me'sognie2," Adina said, and she honestly couldn't figure out why. She didn't care about the stupid brand. That was her mother's influence. Shock. It had to be the shock. "If I can find my suitcase, I've got an extra pair of sneakers in there. I'm a size eight." "Thanks." "You're welcome. I like to be helpful. It's sort of a Nebraska thing. My pageant sponsor says I've got a real good chance at Miss Congeniality this year." "Miss Congeniality represents the true heart of the pageant," Adina found herself repeating from the Miss Teen Dream manual. She vaguely remembered that she used to make a gagging motion at that, but she was too dazed for snarkiness just now. Dazed because, yes, when she'd been looking for her shoe, she'd seen bodies in the water. Lifeless bodies. "Miss Congeniality is an ambassador of smiles," Mary Lou said in a choked voice. "It'll be okay," Adina said, even though she was pretty sure that this was the textbook definition of so not okay. "I think we should find everybody else." Mary Lou wiped her nose on the torn chiffon of her sleeve and followed Adina along the crescent of beach. The air smelled of smoke. A blackened metal wing lay on the sand. Sparkly evening gowns floated on the tide like jellyfish skin, the shininess attracting 2 Roland Me'sognie, the notoriously fat-phobic French designer whose tourniquet-tight fashions adorn the paper cut–thin bodies of models, starlets, socialites, and reality TV stars. In fact, when the svelte pinup Bananas Foster, famous for starring in a series of medical side-effect commercials, was arrested in a Vegas club for snorting cholesterol-lowering drugs while wearing a Roland jumpsuit, he pronounced her "too fat to steal my oxygen. I die to see her misuse my genius. The earth weeps with me." Sales rose 88% that week. The House of Roland was the first to introduce sizing lower than 0 — the -1. "We make the woman disappear and the fashion appear!" the curiosity of the seagulls who swooped over them in a repeated figure eight. Girls in various states of bedraggled dotted the sand like exotic, off-course birds. The contents of opened suitcases and flung purses were strewn across the beach. A red-white-and-blue, fringed baton-twirler's dress hung from a tree. A soggy beauty whose sash identified her as Miss Ohio stumbled out of the surf and sank to her knees, coughing up water and bile. "Oh my God," Adina muttered. She knew she should do something here; she just couldn't remember what. The Corporation's Miss Teen Dream plane had been flying them to Paradise Cove for the Forty- first Annual Miss Teen Dream Pageant. They were to film some fun-in-the-sun promotional pieces, ride the waterslides, and practice their performance numbers. They had all just arrived in Florida the night before, and that morning, at ten a.m., fifty beaming girls in outfits adorned with something emblematic of their states had boarded the plane. Adina had wanted to put New Hampshire's famous poet Robert Frost on her outfit, but her mother and Alan had said there were no poets among the judges, and now her dress had an image of the White Mountains that ranged disastrously across her 36DDs. She'd sat on the plane, her arms folded over her chest, hating that she'd been talked into wearing it. Then came the bang and the smoke, the screams, the falling, the exit doors opening, the sensation of tumbling through the air and landing in a mound of warm sand. How many had made it out? What had happened to the pilots, the chaperones, the Corporation film crew? Where were they now? A voice with a strong twang rang out. "All right, Miss Teen Dreamers! Yoo-hoo! Over here! I'm wigglin' my fingers for y'all's attention! Could y'all come on over here, please?" The waving goddess stood outlined by the smoking metal wing as if she were a model in a showroom of plane wreckage. She was tall and tanned, her long blond hair framing her gorgeous face in messy waves. Her teeth were dazzlingly white. Across the midriff of her dress was a sheer mesh inset of a Lone Star Flag. The girls wandered over, drawn to the command her beauty bestowed. "Y'all come on down and gather round, horseshoe formation — thank you. Some of y'all can fill in here in front where there are gaps." The girls did as they were told, happy that someone had taken the reins. "Hi. I'm Taylor Rene Krystal Hawkins, and I'm Miss Teen Dream Texas, the state where dreams are bigger and better — nothing against y'all's states. I'm a senior at George Walker Bush High School and I hope to pursue a career as a motivational speaker." There was polite, automatic applause. A dazed girl beside Adina said, "I want to pursue a career in the exciting world of weight-management broadcast journalism. And help kids not have cancer and stuff." Miss Texas spoke again: "Okay, Miss Teen Dreamers, I know we're all real flustered and everything. But we're alive. And I think before anything else we need to pray to the one we love." A girl raised her hand. "J. T. Woodland3?" "I'm talkin' about my personal copilot, Jesus Christ." "Someone should tell her personal copilot that His landings suck," Miss Michigan muttered. She was a lithe redhead with the panther- like carriage of a professional athlete. "Dear Jesus," Taylor started. The girls bowed their heads, except for Adina. "Don't you want to pray?" Mary Lou whispered. "I'm Jewish. Not big on the Jesus." "Oh. I didn't know they had any Jewish people in New Hampshire. You should make that one of your Fun Facts About Me!" Adina opened her mouth but couldn't think of anything to say. "Ahem. Dear Jesus," Taylor intoned more fervently. "We just want to thank you for gettin' us here safe —" 3J. T. Woodland, known as "the cute one" in The Corporation's seventh-grade boy band, Boyz Will B Boyz. Due to the success of their triple-platinum hit, "Let Me Shave Your Legs Tonight, Girl," Boyz Will B Boyz ruled the charts for a solid eleven months before hitting puberty and losing ground to Hot Vampire Boyz. Five years later, Boyz Will B Boyz is nothing more than a trivia question. There was a loud, gurgling groan. Somebody shouted, "Oh my gosh! Miss Delaware just died!" "— for gettin' some of us here safe," Taylor continued. "And we pray that, as we are fine, upstandin', law-abidin' girls who represent the best of the best, you will protect us from harm and keep us safe until we are rescued and can tell our story to People magazine. Amen." "Amen," the girls echoed, then fell into noisy chatter. Where were they? What would happen to them? Would they be rescued? Where were the adults? Was this something to do with the war? "Teen Dream Misses!" Taylor singsonged above the din, smiling. "My stars. It's gettin' kinda noisy. Now. My daddy is a general, and I know what he'd say if he were here: We need to do a recon mission, see if there are any more survivors, and tend to the wounded." "My head kinda hurts," Miss New Mexico said. Several of the girls gasped. Half of an airline serving tray was lodged in her forehead, forming a small blue canopy over her eyes. "What is it?" Miss New Mexico checked to make sure her bra straps weren't showing. "N-nothing." Miss Ohio managed an awkward smile. "First things first," Taylor said. "Any of y'all have first-aid training?" Miss Alabama's hand shot up at the same time as Miss Mississippi's. They were both artificially tanned and bleach-blond, with the same expertly layered long hair. If not for the ragged state sashes they still wore, it would be hard to tell them apart. "Names?" Taylor prompted. "I'm Tiara with an A," said Miss Mississippi. "I'm Brittani with an I," said Miss Alabama. "I got my Scouting Badge in First Aid." "Ohmigosh, me, too!" Tiara threw her arms around Brittani. "You're so nice. If it's not me, I hope you win." "No, I hope YOU win!" "Ladies, this part is not a competition," Taylor said. "Okay. Miss Alabama and Miss Mississippi are on first-aid duty. Anybody have a phone that survived?" Two of the girls brought forward phones. One was water damaged. The other could not get a signal. Adina spoke up. "Maybe we should have a roll call, see who's here and who's missing." Missing settled over the girls like a sudden coat of snow shaken loose from an awning, and they moved forward on autopilot, dazed smiles in place, and stated their names and representative states. Occasionally, one would divulge that she was an honors student or a cheerleader or a volunteer at a soup kitchen, as if, in this moment of collective horror, they could not divorce themselves from who they had been before, when such information was required, when it got them from one pageant to the next, all the way to the big one. Of the fifty states, only twelve girl representatives were accounted for, including Miss California, Shanti Singh; Miss Michigan, Jennifer Huberman; and Miss Rhode Island, Petra West, who, ironically, was the biggest girl in the pageant at nearly six feet. Some girls argued over whether the death of Miss Massachusetts — favored by bookies to win the whole thing — meant that the competition would never feel entirely fair. "Thank you, ladies. I'm guessing that's where the rest of the plane is." Taylor pointed to the thick black smoke spiraling up from the jungle. "There might be more of us in there. We need to organize a search party. A Miss Teen Dream Recon Machine. Any volunteers?" As a unit, the girls turned to gaze at the forbidding expanse of jungle. No one raised her hand. Taylor clicked her tongue. "Well, I guess there aren't any Ladybird Hopes4 in this crowd. My stars, I'm glad she's 4 Ladybird Hope, the most famous Miss Teen Dream who ever lived, making her name as a bikini-clad meteorologist, small-town talk show host, lobbyist, mayor, and Corporation businesswoman with her own clothing line. Rumored to be running for president. not here to see this. I bet she'd vomit in her mouth with disappointment. And then, like a pro, she'd swallow it down and keep smiling." Taylor took a pink gloss from a hidden pocket and slicked the glittery wand over her lips. "You remember that The Corporation almost canceled the Miss Teen Dream Pageant last year due to low ratings, and they were gonna replace it with that show about Amish girls who share a house with strippers, Girls Gone Rumspringa? And then, just like a shining angel, Ladybird Hope stepped in and said she would personally secure the advertisers for the pageant. I have lived my whole life according to Ladybird and her platform — Being Perfect in Every Way — and I'm not about to let her down now. If I have to, I will go into that jungle by myself. I'll bet those Corporation camera crews will be real happy to see me." "I'll go!" Shanti's hand shot up. "Me, too!" Petra yelled. Mary Lou nudged Adina. "I guess it wouldn't be very congenial of me not to go. Will you come, too? I want to have one friend." Adina didn't know what they'd find in the jungle, but journalists always went where the story was, and Adina was the best journalist at New Castle High School. It was what had gotten her into this mess. She raised her hand to volunteer. Two teams were organized and, after much debate, names were chosen: The Sparkle Ponies would stay on the beach, tend to the wounded, and try to salvage whatever they could from the wreckage. The Lost Girls would soldier into the jungle in the hopes of finding survivors. Shanti gave instructions to the girls heading into the surf toward the mangled half plane, which was taking on water quickly. "We need to remember to bring out anything we can — first-aid kits, blankets, pillows, seat cushions, clothes, and especially food and water." "But why?" Tiara asked. "They'll be coming to rescue us real soon." "We don't know how long that will be. We've got to survive till then." "Ohmigosh. No food at all." Tiara sank down on the sand as if the full weight of their predicament had finally hit her. She blinked back tears. And then that megawatt smile that belonged on cereal boxes across the nation reappeared. "I am going to be so superskinny by pageant time!"

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Beauty Queens 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 196 reviews.
epicrat More than 1 year ago
Wow. I may not have been a crazy stalker fan of Libba Bray beforehand (the Gemma Doyle series didn't do anything for me - yes, you may duct-tape me now), but I think Beauty Queens has me wondering what crazy schemes this author will cook up next because I'm pretty sure that I will be in that serving line! Even if it is chicken-tasting grub from some random island. I realize that this book may not be for everyone - I wasn't even 1% sure if Beauty Queens would be my cup of tea. Yes, I was that uncertain of it. I kept glancing at the book in the bookstores, admiring the lipstick bullet belt concept, but unsure if I was ready for a leap of faith. So I borrowed it from the library and took the book out for a spin. And holy smokes! Did Beauty Queens grab my attention from the get-go and shook me silly in a similar fashion that Miss Congeniality did? Except 200% more to the power of infinity and whatever goes beyond that? I think flying toasters might be involved in the beyond. As far-fetched as Beauty Queens may sound, Libba Bray really applies her witty parody quite liberally like sunscreen - and I loved all her shout-outs and snark-outs that celebrated (or eulogized) all things pop culture. Everything was outrageous - everything, that is, except the message that it is okay to be yourself, even if that includes a little crazy or ugly or random. I cannot imagine how much FUN Ms. Bray had with re-inventing the world of pop culture because they are truly quite clever! What really impressed me with Beauty Queens is how the girls were introduced to the readers via pageant bios and then the next chapter focused on digging deep into what makes them tick, even though everything was told in third-person. It really gave me enough time to connect with each girl and then gradually tie them as one large group into the main story arc. With so many characters to juggle around and decide who gets centerstage for certain moments, I give props to Libba Bray for managing to find a way to make it easy for the readers to befriend the characters. It almost felt like 4 years of high school with a class of 200+ individuals - you start off as strangers, but leave as one big family. I think Libba Bray may very well be the next Douglas Adams or Joseph Heller in my book. Not a whole lot of authors can serve such a ridiculous dish of random that makes me clutch my stomach from laughing too hard and yet I couldn't stop from devouring the pages! And for your reading pleasure (in truth, this is for my own because I probably inhaled a pepperoni up my nose when I read this snippet), bar none my favoritest quote from the book because the delivery is GOLDEN: "I count the time like my hemorrhoids." "TMI, MoMo." "TMI to you, too, my darling." Please excuse me while I ROFL with pepperoni up my nose. (Dear Readers, you may just want to go out and try this random slice of paradise.)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I totaly disagree with thw people who say this book is a disapointment. You dont need to be a girly girl to enjoy this book. Libba Bray covers every topic a teenage girl needs to here. Race, ethnic struggles, family problems, friendship issues, and the everyday battles a teen girl faces.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you can put your big girl panties on and read just for fun, read this! Beauty queens in a plane crash on a weird island? Like Lost but crazy in a whole different way. Yes-the commercial interruptions from the Corporation get a little old, and yes, if you really sit and think about it, the unrealistic-ness of this whole thing can get you down but if you can read and just get lost in a story and enjoy, then pick this up. I truly loved it and it takes a lot to impress me in a book!
kgirl1721 More than 1 year ago
This book was super funny, I bursted out laughing reading it. Some people don't like it because it has alot of sex, and some other weird things going on like lesibean beauty queens, and transgendered ones. But it had alot of jokes in it. I didn't get some parts but overall it was a really good book!
cara_ann More than 1 year ago
I picked this book up off a display and thought it would be absolutely hilarious and a great read because it was by Libba Bray, unfortunately it was a dissapointment. This book should be on the back shelf not on a display for everyone to see. If you can get over the main characters ghaustly language and bimbo mindset then it might actually be good, but it drove me insane. There was just to much going on! From lesbian contestants to transexual contestants, to the undercover contestant, the contestant that somehow survives the entire time with a tray sticking out of her head and the contestant that loses her mind that was enough...then we have the reality TV show british hunky pirates that land on the island. You can't forget the military/corporation compound hidden on the island making arms deals with the Republic of ChaCha (??really??) that happens to be with a guy that dresses like Elvis?? AND being from Texas it was a little upseting that the Miss Texas contestant talks like she is the biggest redneck hick known to man..and she is the biggest bimbo of all minus the knowledge of using guns..then happens to be the one that goes completely insane...yeah...not cool. To much for me..I mean you may like this but I would personally like my time and brain cells back. Saying this book was a dissapointment and a disaster is being nice.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think a lot of these reviews are missing the point of this novel. The point of the book was to make the girls seem like stereotypical airhead bimbos, but as the story progresses, you learn more and more about each character and the whole plot becomes more in depth. I believe that Libba Bray is showing some kick @ss bravery by writing such a feminism based book, and thats why it has become so controversal. Also, Ive noticed people complaining about the lesbians and transexuals, but then complaining that the girls are too sterotypical. So basically they're saying I wish the characters where different, but not THAT different. Overall, this was a great read. I loved all of the footnotes and commercial breaks that give you a glimpse into the girl's world. I also liked how some of the footnotes were more praising the Corporation, while others were flat out declaring it evil, showing the power struggle between the two groups of people in a segregated society. Please please PLEASE do not let the negative comments turn you off from reading this book. They are only seeing it a surface level. Go deeper, and you will see that this is a kick @ss book for everyone, especially feminists,that is worthy of the support of Libba Bray fans. Congrats Libba on another great piece of art.
RayneCri More than 1 year ago
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray has the most ridiculous summary of any book ever written. A bunch of beauty contestants gets stuck on an island which is actually the secret base of a corrupt corporation trying to take over the government and a republic with an insane leader. Also, sexy pirates. What you must must MUST do whilst reading this book is look past all of the ridiculousness. This book has an exaggerated version of our current society. The girls are expected to look pretty, be silent and apologize for whatever they say, even if they're not sorry. Yes, there are lots of characters in different situations. Yes, some parts of it are weird or cliched. And YES there are girls in this book who are not "smart". (To anyone using the term bimbo- finish the book and get your sexist selves slapped in the heads by the powerful words of Libba Bray, please.) These girls are just that! Teenage girls! Rather than going all Lord of the Flies power crazy, they form order and lifestyle and learn how wrong society has been treating them! They become sexually positive, confident and most importantly: true to themselves. They stop worrying about how they're supposed to act and just act however they really want to! This novel is one that literally changed my life and I would recommend to anyone looking for a true view of how society treats women and what we can do to overcome it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was kind of absured at first but once you got into the flow of the book it was amazing!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Some parts seemed a little bit unrealistic like how people died, but no one thought much if it. My favorite character was Nicole, she's nigerian and from the same tribe as me which was awsome.
ArielGYang More than 1 year ago
Perhaps my expectations were impossibly high, how could they not be after a masterpiece like Going Bovine? Beauty Queens starts off beautifully (no pun intended) - a mysterious plane crash, quirky characters, and the challenge of surviving without food, shelter, and -gasp- lip gloss! Libba Bray makes it clear that this is not aLost or Lord of the Flies inspired story, but it could have been a brilliant and witty comeback to both. A female alternative to Golding's story would have made for great discussion in schools and public libraries. With generous influences from fellow 'dystopian' novels like M.T. Anderson's Feed, a materialistic world run underhandedly by The Corporation and fellow countries with Chavez-inspired dictators produces shallow, narcissistic teenage girls, and what archetype is more extreme than the beauty pageant girl. The demand is there with shows abound on cable networks and the 2007 Miss Teen USA pageant's Miss South Carolina interview fiasco. Unfortunatly, all the sarcastic commercials and witty dialogue could not save a potentially awesome story. If the intention was to show shallow teens finding their inner Girl Power, or bridge the gap between petty differences to encourage girls across the spectrum to unite against a world that demands skinny, perfectly coiffured, pleasant and unopiniontated girls, then it was an 'epic fail'. Bray should have focused on one goal instead of branching off into weak tangeants. Is it a survival story? If so, leave out the government and corporation conspiracies. Outside characters were two-dimensional and drew away from the already too-large cast at hand. And what was with the ship full of cockney-accented actors and the Australian eco-warrior that popped up out of nowhere to woo the girls. Was a love-plot that necessary? The romance that blossomed briefly between two of the girls could have been an all-encompassing focus on positive relationships in general. All-in-all, I cringed more than I smiled, and said, "Huh?" more than "Ha!" The potential was strong, but the inconsistent messages, thin characters, and silly plot-twists left me disappointed. Libba Bray has shown true talent in past YA novels, but this one felt rushed and un-loved.
Robin Grenier More than 1 year ago
If you're willing to just roll with the absurd premise it can be an enjoyable stay on a semi-deserted island.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love the way that the author wrote this book and I felt like she really connected with the readers. It was so funny and it made me laugh. I love all of the characters and it would be hard for me to pick my favorite character. The ending though is quite strange but yet it is delivers a powerful message at the end and is developed throughout the whole story. I would recomend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have no idea why anyone in their right mind would publish this. Let alone why the author, who's name I fail to remember but should because her writing is horrible, is a claimed best selling author. The characters were poorly developed and so alike it was hard to distinguish between who was who. The events in the story became so ridiculous that I only continued to read to see how horribly worse it could get. I knew it would but even I wasn't prepared. Don't waste your time or money.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great, fun, summer read! I didn't think I was going to enjoy this book because usually I don't like to read about a bunch of stuck up girls, but this book was excellent! A little predictable, but definitely deserving of a second read! If you're looking for a book that is fun but still exciting, this is the book for you!
wordforteens More than 1 year ago
I want to make something very clear as you move on to the rest of the post. This book is bloody brilliant and everybody needs to read it. Understood? Now let me explain. Upon finishing this book, I pronounced the fact that I wanted to marry Libba Bray on Twitter. She's a bloody genius and I absolutely adore her and will read anything she writes until she decides not to write anymore. I mean, look at this summary. I knew it was going to be funny going into it. What I didn't expect was for it to be a commentary - a brilliant, hilarious, accurate commentary - on the world we live in today. Can you think of any debatable issue at all? Trust me, it's mentioned. There's a reason this book made #8 on EW's list of things to watch out for this week when it was first published - it's genius. The plot, the commentary - everything is fantastic. And the characters! Oh, what a fantastic cast of characters! I want to say Nicole is my favorite - I have a huge soft spot for her, but that may be because we share the same name. SinJin and Petra are fighting for that honor, though. My dreams of reading about an evil villain named MoMo B. ChaCha have also been satisfied. And as much as I shall be recommending this book to everybody and their mother, it holds a special place in my heart as a YA fan because of some of the shout outs. (There's a character named after Scott Westerfeld and David Levithan ends up in one of the scripts.) Just - I could go on forever. So, so, so much love for this book.
Goddess_Beth More than 1 year ago
Oh, Libba Bray. I want to marry your brain. Once again, she's pulled out a great novel that marries a fun story and characters with biting social commentary. Like with Going Bovine, Bray managed to force me to set the book down and think about life, the expectations of the world on myself and women in general, the sad state of a corporate culture, and the issues facing women as they search for empowerment and identity. That sounds heavy (and those ARE heavy issues), but actually the book was hilarious, snarky, and very fun. She manages a rainbow of characters with issues that most folk can relate to in some way, and she creates a very empowering story out of it. I truly wish that I had been able to read this book in high school. And then in college. And then after college. And maybe in my mid-twenties. Some of her turns of phrase and simple observations on the state of our American culture and what it means to be a woman are things it took me years of observation, experimentation, and a lot of tears and mistakes to learn. That she so gracefully sums them up in an absolutely accurate sentence or two is awe-inspiring. And while I think women, and feminists of any gender, will get the most out of this book, it's a fun read for men as well. I recommend it for anyone who is literate and alive, especially if you live in the US. I am considering buying copies of this book and sending them to my friends with young daughters. My copy I'm keeping to re-read, and for my future progeny.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've been a fan of Libba Bray since A Great and Terrible Beauty came out, so of course I bought this as soon as it came out. Though it's been awhile since I read the book, I think the negative reviews need to be balanced out so potential readers can get a better sense of what the book is like. This story is not ment to be a realistic tale; it is a satire of modern pop culture and the difficulties girls face growing up with the pressures this pop culture imposes. Yes, there are elements of the story that are exaggerated, but they help to add humor and call attention to the absurdities of modern life. I found this book to be a quick and enjoyable read with a message that empowers young women to take control of their own lives instead of bending to society's expectations. This story is definitely more similar in tone to Going Bovine than the Gemma Doyle Trilogy, but fans of Bray's first novels will be glad to encounter the same girl-power theme that was present in Gemma's story, just in a funnier, more satirical format.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was really strange. I haven't finished reading it yet but I know for a fact I will not be re-reading this. All this book has done so far is made real beauty queens look bad and tell unbelievable stories. I mean come on, a transexual contestant who used to be a member of a world famous boyband. Do not eveb get me started on the secret government and the "pirates". If you really think you have to read this book, do yourself a favor and get it at the lirary and save your money.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I got this book because I heard it was really funny. It was sort of funny, but the stupidity of some of the girls was just hard to read. And some of the things that happened seemed really unrealistic. Like the snake that had swallowed Sosie. Also how Miss New Mexico had survived with a tray in her head the entire time. Some parts were extremely predictible, too, like Petra's big secret. I found that out almost right away and was just waiting until they finally said so. I didn't understand the random commercial breaks and all the notes on the bottom. Why were they there? I know everything with Agent Jones and such helped end the book, but throwing it around at random confused me a lot. So this book was okay. I don't think people need to get offended about how people from their state were dumb or went crazy, because that wasn't really the point. I wouldn't really suggest reading this. At least don't buy it, if you want to read it, check it out from the library.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I usually love Libba Bray. I love her Gemma Doyle series; its one of my favorites. I was expecting so much more from her. The characters in this book were so flat, un-relatable, and everything bad about American girls today. The plot was so horribly thought out and didn't even make very much sense in my opinion. I will hope for better in her next books...
SelmaD More than 1 year ago
I had to stop at page 204 and I am actually surprised that I read that much. Anyway, I am being kind calling this book - a piece of crap. It started very funny at the beginning. I thought this is one of those very girly, cheesy, funny, entertaining books and I expected a lots of laughs, and indeed was Ok at start but then :O Oh boy.. at some point I felt like reading this book hurting my brain i had to stop and delete and try to forget bunch of nonsense writing. From commercial interruptions to snake who ate one of the girls (girl managed to escape :S) to explosive hair products, reality show pirates, weird interview interruptions.. I mean this book is so stupid to the point that is disturbing to read.
Artisttia More than 1 year ago
I have enjoyed Libba Bray's trilogy prior to rrading this and expected greatness. Instead I found an underdeveloped storyline, repeated filler, and cheap writing tricks to fill up the pages. If the writer had taken her time wiyh this book and flushed out the plot as was done in Great and Terrible Beauty the book could have had the potential for excellence. I have one thing to say to you Libba Bray, shame on you.
emma keifer More than 1 year ago
Read it! :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*I thought it was funny and a great read, some part were ..... "interesting", good book in all!*
JimRGill2012 3 months ago
Imagine a self-referential, meta-postmodern distaff version of Lord of the Flies. Now imagine that it’s a parody. Now imagine that it works. Sort of. Libba Bray takes on just about every laughably ludicrous aspect of 21st-century culture and shreds it to bits—sexism, militarism, materialism, consumerism, and just about every other –ism you can think of gets its comeuppance in this entertaining and humorous tale of teenage beauty pageant contestants who survive a plane crash on a remote island controlled by The Corporation, which is secretly allied to the Republic of ChaCha, which is ruled by an Elvis Presley-obsessed dictator. Throw in buff reality-show pirates for good measure. Somehow it all works. The mayhem and social commentary is punctuated by narrative breaks in the form of Classified documents, contestant bio sheets, Words From Your Sponsor, Commercial Breaks, and “informational” footnotes (i.e., propaganda/ advertisements). The plot, such as it is, centers on the survivors’ attempt to get rescued, only to discover that they are pawns in a plot masterminded by Ladybird Hope (a former Miss Teen Dream turned megalomaniacal presidential candidate) to forge an alliance with ChaCha and take over the world. Although Bray manages to avoid portraying the characters as caricatures, each Miss Teen Dream contestant seems to embody one or two primary dimensions of diversity—there’s the assertive one, the wild/sexually liberated one, the deaf one, the multicultural one, the black one, the lesbian, the transgender one, the dumb one, etc. Of course, each of these characters transcends her ostensibly defining trait to exhibit the complexity that resides (we hope) in each young woman. The only noticeable flaw in this otherwise entertaining postmodern satire (in the form of a YA novel) is the novel’s unnecessarily lengthy second half. Once the novel’s principal conflict is established and the characters are well established, Bray weaves a sometimes tedious web of events, drawing out a tale that could have benefitted from some sharper editing and tighter pace. But I quibble. Pick this one up and enjoy its punch.