“Beauty Queens” by Libba Bray

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

My dreams of having a villain named MoMo B. ChaCha have been fulfilled.

A plane full of beauty queens crashes onto a deserted island in Libba Bray’s “Beauty Queens” (Scholastic, May 2011). Left with nothing but their evening gowns and a handful of makeup, the girls are forced to work together and figure out how to survive. Perhaps they can manage it after all – building a hut isn’t that different from interior design, right?

But things get ugly really quickly when the girls discover that they’re not alone on the island, that the plane crash might have been a set up to murder them all, that pirates still roam the seas, and that the last tube of mascara may have just run out.

Libba Bray’s genius seeps through every page of this delicious romp of a novel. Every character – from the secretive Petra, the intelligent Nicole and  the creative SinJin to the evil duo of MoMo B. ChaCha and Ladybird Hope – are absolutely hilarious.

Fantastic characters and hilarious plot aside, the best reason to read this story is the brilliant social commentary (I don’t mean to gush; this story is simply that fantastic.) The novel attacks society’s ideas of beauty and how they are presented within the media itself. Bray writes out various commercials and presentations between chapters and ties them into what is going on in the ‘real world’ while the girls are stranded on the island. Not only are they funny to read, but they are accurate in comparison to the ridiculous nature of real commercials as well.

The one downfall to this story is the sheer number of characters – between the girls who survive the shipwreck and the other characters that get involved (don’t want to spoil too much!), there’s somewhere around 30 or so names being tossed around. After a while it becomes quite difficult to remember who is who and where they are and what are they doing. If you don’t have a mental capacity for remembering a large cast of characters, at least the basics of them, this may not be the book to pick up. Normally I can’t remember names at all, but I managed to get through it because each of the characters’ personalities stick out quite a bit.