The 50 contestants 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 and 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 eyeliner. What’s a beauty queen 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.
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No one left unscathed
Not what you might expect
I would recommend this book in a heartbeat. It's laugh-out-loud funny and manages to get important messages across about beauty ideals and gender without being preachy. Bray sends up the pageant world while treating the girls with tenderness and care. She manages to combine a plane full of beauty queens, a secret island hideaway for evil corporation agents, an Elvis-loving South American dictator and a boatload of pirates in a farce that is chock-full of wonderfully fleshed-out characters and tons of social commentary about the pitfalls of commercialism and capitalism.
I loved the backstories we got on all the girls - especially Mary Lou's suppression of her 'Wild Girl' side and the way she rediscovers it on the island. You might not expect swoon from a book that has a plane full of girls crash landing on an apparently deserted island, but there's swoon aplenty.
Libba Bray brings these characters to LIFE with her narration. I don't know how she kept all the accents straight - but these beauty queens are in a national competition, so they represent several different states across the U.S. Each character had a distinct voice and that really helped to bring their personalities to life.
There's also wonderful, very professional production of the little 'commercial' interludes - with perfect accompanying music and sound effects.
Seeing the girls come together and get past their differences in order to survive was very touching. Hearing them form unexpected bonds and get to know one another in a much more in-depth way than they would have if they had only competed against one another in a beauty pageant was great.
There's a bonus interview section with Libba Bray at the end of the book where she answers some questions and explains some of her influences. It's hilarious!