Reviewed by Elizabeth Talbott

The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream Pageant are supposed to be on a beach, preparing for their big day. Instead, their plane crash landed them onto a seemingly deserted island. Most of their possessions were lost and they have no way to keep up their beauty. At first, they decide to keep practicing their pageant routines, but after a while, survival proves to be more important. As time goes on, the practiced, fake facade of each girl falls, revealing someone imperfect, but real. Little do they know that on hidden parts of the island nefarious government dealings are happening and the girls are considered an inconvenience that needs to be terminated. Can the girls be resourceful enough to not only survive the dangers of the island, but their own government?

The descriptions I’ve read for Beauty Queens
have all been misleading. I was expecting Lord of the Flies and Battle Royale rolled into one and topped off with pageant queens. Basically, I expected them all to hunt and kills each other. This is not at all what happens. The actual book is much better than that, so don’t let the descriptions fool you. Beauty Queens is not only a dypstopian novel, but also a satire. Other novels have attempted to do this, but this is one of the few that has succeeded in being both.

The dystopian world is not too much different from ours and the problems with our society are exaggerated to laughable proportions. I haven’t laughed at a book this much in a long time. Through humor and exceptional writing, Bray exposes the stupidity and unattainability of the beauty standard, the way pop culture is used as propaganda for this beauty standard and assumptions about women, and the corruption of big corporations. The different sections of the novel really helped organize it and better expose these issues.

Beauty Queens features a large cast of characters, most of them teenage girls. I thought it would be difficult to keep track of so many, but they all have defining characteristics and their own chance to shine. It was surprisingly easy to remember all of them. While on the island, the girls realize that they don’t have to be the ideal woman: hairless, skinny, uninterested in sex yet with a man to validate her life, and unintelligent. They have the right to assert their opinions, question their sexuality, be intelligent, decide what they want to do with their lives, enjoy sex and food, and above all, they are free to be themselves. Each of the girls has her own set of insecurities and fears, but together, they work to overcome them and embrace themselves, regardless of the view society has of them. These characters are all surprisingly relatable, even though at the outset of the novel, I didn’t think I had anything in common with them.

Beauty Queens was an unexpected and wonderful adventure. It has just about everything: evil corporations, beauty queens, pirates, a plane crash, and a deserted island full of possibilities. This is easily one of the best young adult novels I have ever read and I would recommend this to everyone.

Rating: 5/5

Elizabeth is a student at Cal State Long Beach. She laughs a lot, loves cats, and lives for music and books. You can read her blog here: http://titania86-fishmuffins.blogspot.com/

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Beauty Queens Contest:

The “Miss Teen Dream” contestants in Libba Bray’s new book Beauty Queens turn out to be anything but typical, proving that true beauty is way more than skin deep.

Now we want to know what makes YOU a Beauty Queen! In 500 words or less, share your most outrageous talent, your quirkiest catch-phrase, or your most inspiring platform.

The writer of the winning essay will receive a $250 shopping spree at Sephora, your very own sparkly tiara, and a signed copy of Beauty Queens!

To enter go to http://www.thisisteen.com/Contest.htm

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Open to legal US residents ages 13 to 18. Deadline to enter 5pm EST on July 1, 2011. Void where prohibited. For complete details and official rules go to www.ThisIsTeen.com

Luxury Reading Giveaway:

One lucky winner will receive a copy of Beauty Queens as well as an Island Survival Kit containing Philosophy Sunscreen, a beach hat and sunglasses!

Mandatory entry: Please comment here and include your e-mail address.

Extra entries (please post each entry separately, i.e. 2 posts for subscribing):
– Subscribe via e-mail, follow or subscribe to the feed. You must verify the subscriptions. (1 entry each)
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This giveaway is open to US and Canada residents only. Deadline to enter is midnight on June 17, 2011.

Review and giveaway items were provided free of any obligation by Scholastic Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.