Thursday, April 19, 2012

Beauty Queens

Fifty girls. 
Fifty TEENAGE girls. 
Fifty SEXY teenage girls. 
Fifty sexy teenage girls STUCK ON A DESERTED ISLAND.

Now that I have your attention, let’s go.

When I selected this book, written by New York Times best selling author and 2010 Michael L. Printz Award winner Libba Bray, I couldn’t help but assume it somehow slipped through the cracks of editors and publishers who had deemed a softcore-porn book as YAL. That and it would be a clear rip off of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. After reading it, I realize how simple minded guys can be. (sorry fellas…)

With the title alone, in no way was I expecting to find messages about sexual equality – I don’t mean a woman can do the same work as a man or any other item so many people feel women inadequate to do because they sit to pee, I mean a woman can/should/and does have every right to act or think like a man when it comes to having/wanting/needing sex – what beauty actually is or just how much Corporate America has branded the images of what is, and what isn’t, right or wrong in both.

But that was indeed what I found.

When the plane crashed on the island, the surviving ladies were set in their ways of life, assuming because of their beauty and “properness” they would be rescued in no time. Being beautiful may get you a free beer at the bar from time to time, but in no way should a person expect their beauty to get them through life, which all learned on the island, because being the beautiful "they" want you to be may lead larger problems. Being proper, though a good quality to have, doesn’t promise you anything, which you will see and read in the pages as the characters change from “it is inappropriate for a lady to speak using in-proper language” to “get your damn cricket legs off-a my cot, bitch!” (Though these lines weren’t exactly taken from the text, you get my point.)

As far as Corporate America ruining the lives of everybody, it’s noticed throughout the pages of the book
with footnotes and Fun Facts pages of the girls involved with the competition. We see this all the time. Don’t 
think so? Major League Baseball, at one time, wanted to sell space on the bases around the diamond,  so we 
could see advertisements for companies in every field. Just last month the CTA started accepting bids from 
corporations to change the names of the trains and buses we ride in this fair city.

I think this is an excellent book, though at times it seemed kind of “run-on-ish”, it is still a well constructed 
text to help teen girls – and teen boys - see, and hopefully understand life – no matter what others say –
isn’t a beauty pageant judged and controlled by others. Life, is a beauty pageant judged and controlled by 
themselves. There are important messages about loving yourself and others and not allowing society to
determine your thoughts for you in this text.

The only bad thing about the book, in my opinion – and we all know how much this is worth – was the slow development of the story. Each characters change from the pretencious thing they were to what they become on the island – a young woman living for herself; not her mommy, what she thinks boys want her to be like and the ever evil Coroporations of the World.

Beauty Queens was published by Scholastic Press on May 24, 2011.


Freddy in the Chi said...

Please excuse the third and second to last paragraphs and their structure. I wasn't going for this and really had no idea on how to fix it. Sorry.


amberK said...

Hello! I think you really get people's attention with your first couple of lines (and the book cover!) Your review makes this book seem interesting, and as you saw, it has good messages for both male and female young adults. You have piqued my interest in this book; if I saw it in the store I would not look twice at it if I hadn't read your review.

cstephens said...

This is a book that I would never have picked up on my own, but now I actually want to read it. I love it when an author can take an idea that seems completely contrived and turn it into an insightful lesson for the reader.