The fifty contestant in the Miss Teen Dream Pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes to compete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea, crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eye liner.
What's a beauty contestant to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program--or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan--or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up?
Welcome to the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Your tour guide? None other than 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.
There is a certain stigma attached to beauty queens. We all know it, and shows like Toddlers and Tiaras feed this stigma. When I heard Libba Bray had a new coming out I was excited; after all, I worship her Gemma Doyle trilogy. When I heard the title, I thought, "Interesting topic for her to tackle." I was really curious to see where she was planning to take readers, and I was not at all prepared for the awesomeness that is this book.
First, imagine a plane of fifty contestants for the Miss Teen Dream Pageant crashing on an island. The number quickly dwindles to just fourteen survivors. Now let your imagination take over. I'm sure it will still not take you where Bray does. Like it says above - there aren't your mama's beauty queens. These girls are thoughtful, resourceful; they have hopes and dreams like the average teen, but these girls can kick butt! If I have to be stranded on an island, I want these girls with me.
Do not be fooled; this book is not an attack on beauty queens. It is an attack on objectification and consumerism. This book is feminism on steroids (in a good way). The genius of this book comes through the dialogue; it is strong, witty, and original, playing on every stereotype of beauty queens to just shred them.
A few of my favorite lines:
“Do you want to pray?” Mary Lou whispered.
“I’m Jewish. Not big on the Jesus.”
“Oh. I didn’t know they had any Jewish people in New Hampshire. You should make that one of your Fun Facts About Me!”
“I hate this place,” Tiara whimpered. “It’s super creepy. Like a haunted Chuck E. Cheese’s where the games all want to kill you and you never get your pizza.”
“Maybe girls need an island to find themselves. Maybe they need a place where no one’s watching them so they can who they really are.”
“Isn’t it exciting?” Tiara said, grinning. “TV pirates!”
Brittani pouted, “I was still hoping for a vampire rescue.”
Adina appealed to the sky. “We asked for rescue and you sent us incompetent rock-star pirates with a broken shop and perfect abs?”
By far my favorite character was Taylor, AKA Miss Texas. At first she was unlikable for me, but Bray took her in a direction that I just loved. Of course, I enjoyed all of the characters. I thought they were all well-written, but Taylor just clicked for me.
There are quite a few messages in this book – presented in a not-so-subtle way – which made it even more enjoyable for me as a reader. I feel this book is more suited for higher-level thinking readers because of the satirical nature of the novel. I recommend it to adults who love YA and mature-thinking teens.