Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Review: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray & Giveaway

When fifty teenage beauty queens board a plane bound for a tropical island and some promotional fun in the sun, the last thing anyone expects is disaster. But when the engine explodes and sends them tumbling out of the sky, the survivors must abandon their former lives as pampered princesses and face horrors they can't even begin to imagine. Unfortunately, giant, man-eating snakes are the least of their worries, because these unwitting girls have stumbled upon a conspiracy that will rock the world and could very well cost them their lives.

Libba Bray brings her signature quirky style to this bizarre new venture and the result is certainly one-of-a-kind. Beauty Queens uses extreme satire to take on a laundry list of hot button topics and is not at all subtle about the many issues it addresses, yet it's hard to divine the message behind the madness. Though I frequently agreed with Bray's apparent point, at other times it seemed that the novel undermined its own meaning. The characters are all caricatures, but as the story progresses readers will discover surprising depths to the girls' psychologies. However, at times, they still come across as stereotypes: it is the lesbian who is a mechanic, the immigrant and African American girls who must band together against their Caucasian competitors, the feminist fatale who is cold and unapproachable. Though the novel tries to advocate universal acceptance and camaraderie, it simultaneously employs divisive stereotypes that don't seem to hold the same satiric edge as the rest of the book.

Aside from these frustrations, however, Beauty Queens is entertaining in its sheer absurdity. Though the girls start off as air-headed divas, once their survival instincts kick in, they become innovative and resourceful powerhouses. Readers may be surprised to find these pageant prima donnas relatable, but the secret crosses they bear hold something for everyone. Their stories are crafted with lush descriptions and smart allusions to literary and popular culture, and the formatting of the book is unusual but apt, featuring product placement footnotes and commercial breaks that immerse the reader in this extreme consumer culture. There is chaos and soul-searching, insanity and battle cries. Bray blends Miss Congeniality with Lord of the Flies to create a entertaining, original parody of our ludicrous, modern reality show society.


Disclosure: I received an advance review copy of this novel from the publicist. This did not affect my review in any way.

Click here to purchase Beauty Queens by Libba Bray.


Thanks to Scholastic, TWO (2) winners will receive a copy of Beauty Queens by Libba Bray!

To Enter:
  • You MUST leave a comment on this post (with your email address!) answering the following question:
What would be your talent in a beauty pageant?
  • +1 for sharing this giveaway (via Twitter, Facebook, etc -- must leave a direct link in your comment)
  • US Only -- prize will be shipped from the publisher
  • Ends 6/8/11 at 11:59 pm EST
  • Two winners will be chosen via
  • Please review my giveaway policy
Good luck!

This is Teen Contest

Scholastic has launched a new online community called This Is Teen to connect readers with their favorite YA authors and books. Visit their page on Facebook for all the latest news on Libba Bray and her new book Beauty Queens:

Ladies and gentlemen, we want to know WHAT MAKES YOU A BEAUTY QUEEN? Being a Beauty Queen like the ones in Libba Bray's new novel means being true to yourself and who you want to be. Tell us in 500 words or less what makes you a Beauty Queen, and you could win a $250 Amex Gift Card to use toward whatever makes you feel most awesome. Or you could opt for a $250 gift card to Sephora. Whatever you choose, we will also send you a signed copy of the book and your very own tiara!

To enter go to

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Open to legal US residents ages 13 to 18. Deadline to enter 5pm EST on July 1, 2011. Void where prohibited. For complete details and official rules go to


SusieBookworm said...

Thanks for the review and giveaway! I loved Bray's Great and Terrible Beauty series, and the plot of this seems too wacky to pass up!

My talent would be music - I play trombone and French horn (but not at the same time, because that would require four arms and two mouths, and I'm not a mutant).

susanna DOT pyatt AT student DOT rcsnc DOT org

Momo (Books Over Boys) said...

Ah! I'll be seeing Libba Bray in a couple of weeks at the This Is Teen book tour! :) EEK!

Hmm, I'm not that extraordinary so I have no idea what my talent would be...but I would either say singing or dancing!

+1 Twitter:!/BooksOverBoys/status/76068245492350976

+1 Facebook:!/BooksOverBoys/posts/230005197016353


Thank you Chelsy and Casey for hosting this!

~Enamored Soul~ said...

OMG, Thanks a MILLIOn for hosting this giveaway!!! I've had my heart set on this book for such a long time now - the premise seems so interesting, and I am sure it will make for an immensely riveting read. Like LOST meets G.I. Jane!!! :D

If I was in a beauty pageant, my talent would be "inhaling" a 300 paged book in 40 minutes. What?!?! That's not allowed in beauty pageants? Oh, in that case...(and since I can't twirl a baton) - I think I might have to go with some belly dancing! :)

+1 Tweet:!/inluvwithbookz/status/76067690967605248

+1 Facebook:

Thanx for hosting this AMAZING giveaway! :D

GFC Follower: ~Enamored Soul~
Email: Enamoredsoul(at)gmail(dot)com
Twitter: @inluvwithbookz

The Lovely Getaway said...

Thanks so much for hosting this giveaway :) please enter me! My beauty talent would definitely be dancing. I'd probably choreograph a dance to a well known song :)


Molli @ Once Upon a Prologue said...

ok SO glad to see a good review for this book. I've been eagerly awaiting this book and other's reactions to it. It's definitely one I will be reading.

ALSO, oooh a giveaway! :)

My talent would be...hmm. Writing doesn't really seem appropriate so I guess I'd say I would read something I had written, probably something humorous considering I don't think a beauty pageant is gonna be an audience ripe for anything serious or sad!

Bookish Brunette said...

Of course my ironic ability to persuade anyone into anything... Duh!

No... okay my talent would be, reciting every line to every Reba song ever sang. Yep. I'm awesome!

Kate said...

Glad you liked Beauty Queens. I have a few more chapters to read and I am loving it! :-)

Anonymous said...

I can type really fast - like 100 wpm. Not very interesting, but that's the only talent I can think of :)

Thanks for the giveaway!

Beth S. said...

My beauty pageant talent would be singing while accompanying myself at the piano - two for the price of one. :)

beths0103 at yahoo dot com

LilMissMolly said...

My talent would be to read a passage for a book or poem, like acting. Is that interpretive reading/acting?
lvsgund at

Anonymous said...

I LOVE Libba Bray and I've heard nothing but good things about this book! Thanks for the contest!

I guess mine would be dancing.

twilightforever.edward at gmail dot com

Luna said...

I love Libba Bray's other novels, I've been waiting quite a while to get my hands on this one. :) Thanks for the review; very helpful!

And my talent would be.. cracking my jaw. I know it sounds disturbing.. It is. But hopefully whoever's judging me keeps an open mind! ^^



Anne Bennett said...

Compared to Going Bovine, how does it compare? I am a huge fan of Bovine and The Great and Terrible Beauty. Do you think she has another winner here?

Orchid said...

Not sure if this qualifies as a talent, but I can tell you the name of a song/artist by just hearing the first couple of notes to the song. :)

I think I need to give Beauty Queens a second look. :)


TheGirlOnFire said...

I have always wanted to be able to make wine glasses play music like in Miss Congeniality.

spread here

thegirlonfire27 at gmail dot com

Sasha Switz said...

My talent would be having no talent. I would stun the crowd with my ability to be good at nothing.

Thanks for the giveaway! I love Libba Bray.

--Sasha Switz

Vivien said...

I would want to do Baton twirling. I've always wanted to be able to do it.

+1 spread here

deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

Meghan @ Books and a Cup of Tea said...

Wonderful review! Glad to hear you liked it other than a few frustrations!

This book sounds awesome and I've been wanting to read it for a while, so thank you for the giveaway!

My talent would be licking my elbow! Or if that is too.. out there, I guess, I would just recite a song or poem I've written to wow the audience with my amazing writing abilities.. :P.

+1 Tweeted:!/leggomymeggox

I'm terribly sorry, but I cannot seem to link directly to the tweet. Sometimes I can, sometimes I can't, but I put your Twitter name in there, so you can see it, too.


Bonnie said...

My talent would be playing the cello. Thanks for the giveaway!

mellocello1 (at) juno (dot) com

Precious said...

Don't enter me in the contest! Just wanted to tell you that I loved reading your review. I haven't read any of Libba Bray's books (I know I should) but I'm eager to find out more about this 'quirky' style that you mentioned. I love it when the author's writing style is distinct. Plus, I've read amazing reviews on this one. It's quickly becoming a favorite of lots of readers. I have to check this out.

Blueicegal ♥ said...

Ah the characters do sound kind of stereotypical which is annoying but hopefully I will be able to see past that if the novel is good enough. I'm very excited to read this!

throuthehaze said...

My talent would be creating found object art
throuthehaze at gmail dot com

mbreakfield said...

I'm not very talented, maybe I could recite poetry or do a dramatic reading.

Lauren M said...

Great review! I completely fell in love with Beauty Queens. (But you make good points!)

★Leila @ Within Pages said...

I think my talent would be storytelling. If only I could get the story onto paper *sigh*

withinpages @ hotmail dot com

candice said...

My talent would be trivia, Jeopardy style. Thanks for the giveaway!

candicerjames (at) gmail (dot) com

Jessy said...

This sounds so hilarious. I think If I was in a beauty pageant my talent would be something stupid like speed reading.


findjessyhere at gmail dot com

ashelynn hetland said...

I really want to read this book, and it keeps getting amazing reviews! It has to be good, yeah?

I want to say my talent would be juggling balls on fire, but I can't juggle, so that's out of the question. I can't sing, so cross that out. Maybe playing the clarinet? Which I haven't done in five years?

Okay, okay. I'll just repeat facts since that is all my memory remembers.


ashelynnsanford at hotmail com

thank you so much!

Becky said...

Awesome giveaway:) I would love to win a copy. My beauty pageant talent would be an interpretive dance to the SpongeBob Squarepants theme song. :)


Reader Riah said...

My talent would be showing the judges how quickly I can devour a book like this. ;)
mariahoverlock at


Asenath said...

I think my talent would be a really moving monologue or something :)

arallison at gmail dot com

Aydrea said...

My beauty pageant talent would be a dance.

+1 tweeted it-!/arick01/status/77065958979678208

Thanks for the giveaway!

Madeline said...

If I had to do a talent, I suppose I could play guitar and sing. Or maybe I could use one of my more odd talents: quoting random poetry or lines from books that I've accidently memorized.

+1 Twitter:!/laurealinde/status/77068076901871617

+2 Facebook:!/madeline.freeman/posts/10150655119085457

Mary Ellen said...

I would give singing a try in a talent contest but I doubt I would win!

Thank you for the chance to win!

Eli Squared said...

I love love love Libba Bray so much. Such a good author!

Okay, on to the question:

My talent would be singing a Broadway song, probably Don't Rain on My Parade. I love me some Barbara.

+1 Tweet:!/eli2squared/status/77213471875399680

Thanks for the great giveaway,

eliweibley AT gmail DOT com

mfay2 said...

I'm just thinking of me in a beauty pageant. *laughs* Okay, my talent. Some drawing maybe? If not, I'll just stand there, silently. Ackward!

marynellie8 at yahoo dot com

Madeline said...

Um, totally forgot to post my e-mail, so am reposting my whole comment.

If I had to do a talent, I suppose I could play guitar and sing. Or maybe I could use one of my more odd talents: quoting random poetry or lines from books that I've accidently memorized.

+1 Twitter:!/laurealinde/status/77068076901871617

+2 Facebook:!/madeline.freeman/posts/10150655119085457

madeline dot freeman at gmail dot com

Alice D said...

Thanks for the giveaway! I can't wait to read this book!

My talent would be singing or playing piano. :D

+1 Tweet:!/books_lover3/status/77655560480243713

+1 FB share:

alice13188 at yahoo dot com

Lovely said...

awesome contest thanks for hosting!

email; thelovelyreadingteen AT gmail DOT com

Al said...

I would probably try to do some kind of comic relief. even though I'm not very funny- but I have a better chance of that than dancing and singing- those would just get me banned! haha

al @

magnet4taken @ gmail . com

Anonymous said...

I haven't read a single Bray novel, but have heard a lot of good things about her.

My talent would be the ability to use as many possible words to say absolutely nothing.

it's a gift. really.


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