16 June 2011

Book Review: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
Release Date: May 24, 2011
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Rating: 2 out of 5
Recommended? Nope.

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. - Goodreads Page

The plot kicks off with the plane crashing on the island, and throughout the first half of the book, we see the girls struggle to live on the island, learning to fish and to build huts. However, we didn't actually see a lot of this; all of a sudden the huts were there. I would have loved to have seen the girls do this, as I mainly picked up this book for the island survival part of it – which is a huge interest of mine.

Beauty Queens is very character-driven. I wouldn’t recommend picking this book up for the action, as there wasn’t much of that. A lot of time is spent telling the reader about each of the characters’ backstories, and about their different personalities and traits. That said, there is little character development going on. 

The pirates... don’t even get me started on the pirates. I didn’t feel they were necessary at all, and they only seemed to be thrown in so that the girls could get some male attention in an otherwise completely female setting. At the same time, it also contradicted the whole feminism theme of the plot.

I found this book to be very preachy without needing to be. Lots of different themes were thrown into the book, such as lesbianism, transgendered characters, feminism... And while that was all well and good, it became very in-your-face after a while. I felt that Bray was trying too hard to make this book appealing to everyone.

To be completely honest, I only really liked one of the girls – Petra. She was the most developed out of all of them, and she seemed the most true to life. All of the other characters seemed very shallow in comparison, and they only seemed to be there so that those different themes mentioned above - among others - were included.

This is the first book of Libba Bray’s I have read, and I have to say I’m not a fan of her writing style. I usually love satire, but Bray’s was a bit too much for me. I think she took it too far with the whole tongue-in-cheek thing.

I know this is not Bray’s fault, but the editing of this novel was very poor. I noticed a great deal of simple mistakes, such as the misuse of “too” and a character talking in a scene and then entering the same scene two pages later.

The numerous footnotes that appeared every couple of pages were also very annoying, as they distracted from the flow of the book. Towards the end, I just ended up ignoring them completely.

I don’t recommend this novel unless you are a fan of Bray’s other books. I can’t say how Beauty Queens fares in comparison to those, however, as I haven’t read them. Honestly, the plot and the dialogue were all over the place and this book really was a struggle to get through.


  1. Interesting. I recently read a glowing review of this so to hear about things like grammar mistakes and the jumble of themes is a little unnerving. I still want to read it but I might be a little more critical eyed. Thanks for your honesty!

  2. I've heard mixed things about this book. I've never read anything by Bray, but can't say it particularly draws me in.
    Thanks for the honest review, I find spelling errors etc very irritating. :(

    Thanks for entering my Giveaway and the lovely comment. :D

  3. I am so dissapointed for you that you didn't like it :( I have been so excited about reading this book. I still think I will give it a go though. Thanks for the honesty!

  4. Oh good, I'm so glad I read your review. I've seen nothing but glowing reviews, but I got a lot of preachy vibes from the descriptions and that's turned me off. I don't think I'll be reading this one, especially knowing that the survival part isn't touched on much.

  5. Thank you, ladies! And you're welcome.

    Small - It's disappointing, to say the least. I love survival stories! Hopefully I can find another book with the desert island theme :)


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