Book Review

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray


Here’s my review:



Hahaha just kidding. No way I’m letting this book off that easily.

Have you ever read a book that seems written just to annoy you?

Maybe Beauty Queens doesn’t deserve my hate. There are a fair amount of people, including reviewers I trust, who enjoyed Beauty Queens. Maybe I just read the book wrong? All are valid arguments.

But that still doesn’t make up for the fact that this book turned me into a rage tornado. A tornado. Of rage.

My poor husband. After I chucked this piece of shit across the room I just walked around in an anger-haze. My husband, being the only human in sight, had to endure my half-intelligible ranting on how I wish I could dropkick this book to the moon.

Ugh, guess I should make an attempt at a summary before I dive in.

The main plot of the book is very basic and straight-forward: Thirteen teen beauty queens get stranded on an island due to a plane crash. As the girls are learning about how to survive (and keep their competition skills on point), there are other nefarious things happening on the island.

Because I don’t want to endlessly rage-rant until I punch the computer (hubby probably wouldn’t like that), I’ll just concentrate on the two main offences to me. Because when I was looking at other reviews (to try to figure out what the hell I was missing) I kept seeing the terms “dark humor” and “great satire”.

This book is neither.

I can’t deny that by definition this is a satire, but I didn’t find it clever nor humorous. Satire, especially when ‘over the top’, is difficult to pull off. Bray’s satire came off as lazy and preachy. I’m really surprised that this novel came out in 2011 because the humor felt so dated.

  • Oh really, beauty pageants are anti-feminist and filled with vapid contestants. Been there.
  • Oh really, the beauty pageant is run by an evil corporation that is called ‘The Corporation’ (clever). Done that.
  • And oh look, Consumerism is evil and causes us to be desensitized to what really matters. Just… can I throw the book across the room again?

I’m not saying that these social critiques aren’t valid, but this type of satire has been done to death and Bray brought nothing new nor fresh to the table. That’s why I thought this book was from the ‘90s.

As painful as the satire was, what really killed the humor and fun (that this book boasted) was the characters.

On the surface, the characters are stereotypes of their home state or voice pieces for Bray’s ideology.

The stereotypes are… well let me just give you a taste.

  • Texas is a crazy gun-totin’ uber religious blonde.
  • Mississippi and Alabama are interchangeable, stupid and oversexed.
  • Nebraska is quiet, kind, simple, and repressed.

Wow. So original.

The characters are either  just (crude) tools for Bray to get her views across or just wallpaper. Bray tries to give some inner struggle to a couple of the girls, but since she gave them as much depth as a cartoon character it tends to fall flat.

Ya know why? Because these girls are horrible human beings and I don’t care if they survive.

The beginning of the book begins with a plane crash that kills over 40 people.  And you know who cares? No one.

I was waiting for shock to wear off, but instead I was given teen girls who are making fun off the other dead contestants.

And I can I hear the naysayers saying ‘but Tasheena, its dark humor.’

Oh, I truly believe that Bray thinks this is dark humor. But I find it a cheap attempt to make her characters look desensitized without putting any effort into it. It’s just dark for darkness’ sake and makes your characters look like the worst assholes.

Oh geez… I haven’t even mentioned the horrible sub-plot. And the fact that they keep practicing for the Beauty Pageant as though 35 of the other contestants didn’t JUST DIE. And reality show Sexy Pirates that completely undo the ladies and the femi-nazi.

Nope nope no no nononononono I’m done!

I know I’m gonna get some flak from people (already have) but I really did want to like this book. I usually read heavier books and I was excited for Beauty Queens. I wanted a fun adventure that used the Beauty Queen aspect to give this old tale some new life. But Bray sucked all the fun out of this book.

In the meantime:

rage1Score: 1 Star
Sidenote: I’m also bummed that Miss Florida didn’t make it, I really wanted her to be Queen of the Alligators.


4 thoughts on “Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

  1. Oh, I’m sad about this. I don’t know when I was going to get to it, but I planned on reading BQ. But, the way you broke it down it definitely doesn’t seem like something I would like. I do love her Great & Terrible Beauty series, but I think I’ll skip this one. Great review!


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