Title: Beauty Queens
Author: Libba Bray
Page count: 400 pages (paperback)
Rating: 2/5 stars
Trigger warnings for this book: some gore, violence, exploding animals, dictators, plane crashes
Spoiler warnings for this review: this is NOT a spoilerfree review. There are a lot of spoilers here, so only enter if you don`t mind spoilers or if you`ve read the book!
When a plane crash strands thirteen teen beauty contestants on a mysterious island, they struggle to survive, to get along with one another, to combat the island’s other diabolical occupants, and to learn their dance numbers in case they are rescued in time for the competition.Written by Libba Bray, the hilarious, sensational, Printz Award-winning author of A Great and Terrible Beauty and Going Bovine. The result is a novel that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you never see beauty the same way again.
It`s difficult to really collect my thoughts on this book, considering the book itself is such a mess. This is supposedly a feminist novel that challenges the way you think about beauty, consumerism, female sexuality and other things. Personally? I`d argue against all of these.
Warning: this is not a happy review.
Beauty Queens is a book I`ve seen around on booktube quite a lot, which is what led me to buy it in the first place. The cover looked good, the concept sounded interesting, it was heralded as a proper feminist book with good representation of race and sexuality. What`s not to love, right?
I also understand that this book is a satire, with commentary on the aforementioned things like consumerism, beauty, and even (or especially) reality television. I`m all for that, it sounds like fun! My kind of book!
But if this is considered “proper feminist” then I`m not sure I want to be associated with this specific brand of feminism. Sure, there were characters of different sexualities and different races, so bonus points for that. Too bad they all seemed to be charicatures. It was like they were only there to prove a point, to represent their particular side of the feminist argument, rather than actual rounded characters.
One of my biggest annoyances with this book is the refusal to use the word “bisexual”. Lesbian? Check. Transgender? Check. Strange sexual wolf girl thing? Check. Racism? Check. Bisexual? Nope. Which, as a bisexual girl, is super disappointing.
Besides that, this book felt overly preachy. It felt less like a humorous satire, and more like a “this is obviously how you SHOULD think” which is a thing I really can`t stand. Stop telling me what to think and what to believe.
“But Charlotte, is the story itself at least any good?”
Actually, no. It`s not a very good story. In fact, the story is such a mess of different things happening at the same time, it feels very crammed and rushed. People are running back and forth, there are secret companies and evil dictators and more evil former beauty pageants and pirates and, somewhere in between, researchers? I`m not entirely sure where all of this came from either. There`s so much going on, it`s not only hard to keep track but it`s hard to keep it all cohesive and running smooth (it definitely feels like the author struggled with this as well).
This book did not leave a good impression, and I`m VERY hesitant to pick up other books by Libba Bray.
I do not recommend this book. At all. Unless you don`t mind an overly simplistic version of feminism and representation, don`t mind an inane amount of silliness that borders on (and regularly crosses into) plain annoying, and if you can handle a constant stream of charicatures, then go right ahead. Have fun!
The only reasons I gave it two stars are: I managed to finish this book, there were a couple of funny parts, and I like pirates. I also just kind of kept waiting for the book to get better, but unfortunately it just got worse and worse.
Too bad. I really expected more, and had such high hopes for this book. I`m always sorry to be disappointed like this, and I really wanted this to be better. No such luck this time.
Did you read this book? What did you think of it? Leave a comment down below!
Take care, and I`ll see you guys again soon 🙂