Monday, February 20, 2012
Beauty Queens Review
Ok full disclosure... sometimes I really need to read something breezy. Usually I save that for spring break or the summer but after reading a few lengthy, heavier books, I just wanted something easy. A few years ago I read Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle Trilogy, which was ok. I'd heard Going Bovine was really funny but haven't gotten around to it yet. The cover of this book put me off for a long time. I mean look at it, it's absolutely ridiculous... but... well the concept of beauty queens in a Lord of the Flies situation was sort of appealing. Turns out the book is really funny. Yes, it's light and easy, even if it's longer than I expected it to be, but Bray also does a great of highlighting how shallow our culture can be.
The whole premise is that a plane filled with fifty Team Dream contestents crashes and the survivors have to figure out how to live on an island. There were definitely archetypes: the Texas pagent queen, the cynical Jewish journalist who just wants to expose the pagent for what it is, the ditzy blondes, the virginal southerner, the lesbian, etc. But for the story, those cliches worked.
In between chapters of the book, there are commercials for shows and products that exist in the girls' version of America: Lady Stache Off - a hair remover that can double as a bathroom cleaner (who would seriously use that?!), Girls Gone Rumspringa (a reality show about Amish girls who live with strippers) and a product called something like "Panty Pets" for making your period fun.
So our girls learn how to survive in a world without The Corporation's (the super shady business that runs entertainment, advertising and most other things in Bray's version of America) products. They discover that they can live without having to be what society expects of them. They don't have to smile or wave or look pretty or say sorry constantly in order to be happy.