Beauty Queens by Libba Bray begins with a plane crash that strands thirteen beauty pageant contestants from the “Miss Teen Dream” on a deserted island. Only the island really isn’t deserted. In a dormant volcano on the other side of the island lies the hidden lair of evil corporate spies who are about to give bombs made from hair remover cream to an Elvis loving dictator. This book has something for everyone: mystery, suspense, snakes big enough to swallow humans whole, perils of teeth whitening, questioning sexuality and reality TV pirates with British accents.
The contestants’ ranks are filled with the typical pageant stereotypes like the perfect beauty queen from Texas who has been in pageants since she was three and believes that the girls should practice their talent routines while waiting to be rescued. However, the girls begin to work together and learn to do for themselves without worrying what their parents, pageant officials or society in general will think. They learn to fish with their curling irons and filter water with an evening dress. So, after providing themselves with clean drinking water, food, and shelter, the girls must rescue shipwrecked reality stars and finally put a stop to an illegal arms sale. Along the way there are short commercial breaks brought to you by the Corporation. The book is filled with footnotes about the fictional products and shows available from the Corporation whose motto is “Because Your Life Can Always Be Better.”
This book is about teenage girls on a journey of self-discovery. However, it is also a campy, satirical look at society today. No subject is left uncovered by this book. Shots are taken at corporate America, reality TV and product advertising. It also explores taboo topics like GLBT and plastic surgery in teenagers. So, I would not only recommend this book to teenagers, but anyone looking for a funny unique character driven story.