Title: Beauty Queens
Author/Narrator: Libba Bray
Publication Year: 2011
Pages: 400 (audio length: 14 hours 37 minutes)
Source: Audiobook version purchased from Audible.com
From the cover:
The 50 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.
This is probably my favourite, and least expected, “great find” from the Armchair Audies.
The description from the cover of Beauty Queens gives a vague idea of what it is about, and yet it misses so many important things. I put off reading this book until I had read almost all of the other books in the category, thinking that it would be a palate-cleanser between “serious” autobiographies, and nothing more. Instead, it turned out to be a fascinating, in-depth satire of the beauty industry, the mass media, and so many other things.
I don’t really want to say too much about the plot, because I think the book might be best enjoyed if you don’t know what’s coming. What I will say, though, is that it was a completely refreshing take on YA fiction, leaving so many of the stereotypes in the dust. And, in fact, Bray goes out of her way to spearhead many of these stereotypes outright, not simply avoiding them. The cast of characters includes many different kinds of girls, with many different attitudes and beliefs, and it was great fun to experience all of them in relation to each other.
I would also definitely recommend listening to the audiobook version of this book. For me, listening to the author voice all of the different characters was fascinating. She really gave each of them their own distinct flair, from the accent of different American states to their syntax and even attitudes. Plus, the text really lent itself to the audiobook format, such as when Bray includes “commercial breaks” and such. I’m not sure that these would have had quite the same effect in the written text as it did in the audiobook. Not that it wouldn’t have fit well, but rather, it was just even better in audio format.
Definitely pick up a copy of Beauty Queens, even if you’re not immediately attracted by the front cover or the blurb on the back. They’re not necessarily misleading, but also don’t tell the whole story, and I think that more of you might enjoy the book than might initially be thought.
So yeah, go for it! I think you’ll love it just as much as I did.