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Book Review: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

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Beauty Queens. Beautiful, poised, and perfect. Or are they more? When several teen beauty queen contestants crash-land on a desert island, they are lost as to what to do. Fight for survival and rescue, or continue practicing for the pageant? Keep up a facade, or let their true colors show through?

One of the strengths of the novel is the female teen characters.  Many of them are very diverse with different ethnicities, sexual orientations, and gender identities. Furthermore, the way their personalities are gradually revealed as the novel progresses is very well done.

Another slight bit of strength is the use of satire in the novel to show the impact of the standards of beauty and perfection on young girls. In between the chapters, there are script of commercials and infomercials written out that are sometimes funny and sometimes meaningful. Sometimes, the humor is a bit too much, but maybe the author overdid the humor in order to show how having fun with a girl’s image is just too cruel.

The flaws of the novel start with one of the female teen characters. I don’t want to spoil too much, but this reader feels that this one teen female sets a bad example for teen girls by being sexually active in a way that is tempting.

Another flaw of the novel is with the teen male characters that show up in a later part of the book. They weren’t as well-developed as some of the female characters which bothered this reader a lot. It made it seem like mostly men were the cause of female exploitation in popular culture and that only female exploitation in popular culture was important, when males are just as exploited as them! As a female reader, I’m all for empowerment of girls, but males also need to know that they can be more than just a sexy bod.

Last but not least, the plot. The idea of having beauty queens crash-land on an island so they are forced to fend for themselves is a good main plot. The sub-plot, not so much. Evil dictator named Momo Cha-Cha trying to use the beauty pageant for his own gain? What is this, a cartoon?

Overall, this book was a so-so. Sometimes it was great, other times it was annoying. While I applaud Libba Bray for making the effort to write a thought-provoking book, it  is not her best work.

 

Written by Serena Zola

January 21, 2013 at 12:00 AM

Book Review: Geektastic

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  Geektastic: Stories from The Nerd Herd is a collection of geeky short stories by some of today’s most prominent young adult authors. Some of them include John Green, Sara Zarr, David Leviathan, and Holly Black. A sample of story topics include Star Wars versus Star Trek, RPGs, and comics.

One of the best things about this book is how the stories go beyond the geeky passions and go into the personal lives of the characters. A good example from the book is “The Truth About Dino Girl” by Barry Lyga. In the story, a geeky girl has a crush on a popular guy. At the same time, she wants to be the world’s greatest paleontologist. Yet past memories and an uncertain future make Dino Girl feel alone and like nothing.

Another good thing about this book is the comic illustrations in between the stories. Done by Brian Lee O’ Malley (creator of the comic Scott Pilgrim VS The World that the movie is based on) and Hope Larson, these comics are funny and geeky. They catch the eye with headlines like “How to Look Cool and Not Drool in Front of Your Favorite Author”.

In the end, it all depends on personal taste. If you are a geek and a certain type of geek, then you will enjoy these stories. Even if you aren’t a geek, you might know someone who is and so will be able to understand them better if you read a story or two. Either way, this book is worth reading.

Written by Serena Zola

May 3, 2012 at 9:17 PM

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