A plane full of beauty queens crash lands on a desert island, but this isn’t the start of a cheesy joke! They must band together to survive the elements and a dangerous cabal of drug dealers using the island for less than noble purposes. More importantly they must struggle to find their inner beauty and common strength or be trampled by the misogynistic hegemony of the patriarchy! Also, they need to get their dance routines down in case they are rescued.
Libba Bray has hit it out of the park. Her last book, the hallucinatory bizarre epic Going Bovine won raves and adulation and acclaim and other good things. Beauty Queens has all the wit and daring of Bovine but with a more straight forward (and to me more enjoyable) narrative. The James Bondesque adventure plot actually is thrilling and action packed, it’s just also filled with hilarious social satire and genuine emotion. The genuine emotion and satire can come from the same characters because Bray makes what seem like stereotypes at first (like Miss Texas the brash go-getter with big hair and big dreams) evolve into real young women. A good deal of humor and satire comes from footnotes added by the corporate sponsors of the pageant. This isn’t JUST a super funny and exciting book. The problems it tackles of how companies sell young women horrible ideas of beauty and how that affects female identity are really intelligently and bravely addressed. A great read for anyone looking for a lighthearted dark comedy with adventure and Big Ideas!