July 21, 2011

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (Audiobook): Review

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I'd been hearing a lot of chatter about Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. The premise sounds kooky: beauty pageant contestants crash onto a deserted island and have to overcome their differences in order to survive. I was expecting a campy adventure story and that was part of it but it ended up feeling to me like The Book that Tried Too Hard. Beauty Queens is a satire, taking aim at the media, commercialism and the unrealistic expectations put on girls. I do like me some satire but not the kind that beats me over the head and Beauty Queens has all the subtlety of a giant cartoon hammer.
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The major issue I had with Beauty Queens was the girls. Most of them were a stereotype draped in an issue crowned by a message. The one black contestant (stereotype) had a mom who was a former cheerleader and expected her daughter to be a star (issue). She learns to love herself (message). Lather, rinse, repeat many, many times. Their back stories dragged down the narrative and ended up being preachy. I did actually love one of the girls- Taylor, Miss Texas. Sure, she's a bit nuts but she made the story entertaining. I expected a lot more from her character.

But I have a But....

But it was fun when it wasn't trying to be a Degrassi High episode. Crazy Ladybird Hope, Dictator MoMo and wacky Taylor. They were funny. I giggled quite a bit. The girls practiced their runway walks while building huts and weapons. Every time I heard the words "Sparkle Ponies" I laughed. At the commercial breaks too. The crazy bits were really crazy and I was entertained.

So, I'm a bit torn over Beauty Queens. I loved parts of it, but rolled my eyes at others. I am conflicted. I know so many other bloggers loved this like crazy but like Tiara taught me I will not apologize for my opinion or prefix my opinion with a "sorry." (See, I learned something.)

Also *adjusting the Mom hat and tying it with a bow* this is a book for older teens since there is sex and swears. And I guess violence, though the violence is too silly to be taken seriously.

About the Audio: Libba Bray narrated the book and did a fantastic job, especially with Ladybird and Taylor. I think the narration helped add to the entertainment value.

Ratings:

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6 comments :

  1. I've seen a few other reviews that felt the way you did. I'm still curious about the book.

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  2. I have this book, but when I tried to get into it I decided it wasn't happening. I really enjoyed her other books, though, so I will get back to it eventually.

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  3. It sounds like it should be both hilarious and biting. Too bad it fell a bit short!

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  4. Sorry to hear this wasn't great. It does sound like a book for a quick summer read.

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  5. Congrats for making your way through the review and posting it!! I have this out from the library right now but I'm kind of undecided on whether or not to read it. Maybe listening to the audio would be better.

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  6. I completely agree. The message was over the top and then the author basically beats you with the message in case you missed it.

    It was a fun book though.

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