Beauty Queens, Libba Bray* (Allen & Unwin)
Isn't it the most riotous premise? It's brilliant: a plane full of teenage beauty queen contestants crash lands on a deserted (or, rather, not quite so deserted) tropical island. Libba Bray's latest novel is firmly tongue in cheek and just brilliant. It made me cry 100% less than Going Bovine but I loved it just as much. It's Drop Dead Gorgeous meets Lord of the Flies, via Lost.
It's way over the top, a delight from start to finish. A fun satire (subtle as a tsunami) and you fall in love with the girls as they are forced to fight for survival and reassess themselves as girls and as people. Adina (Miss New Hampshire) and Tiara (Miss Mississippi) were probably my faves, as well as Petra and Mary Lou. Shanti Singh (Miss California) and Nicole Ade (Miss Colorado) were hilarious and fierce as the two people of colour determined to stick it out in the whitewhite pageant world. And poor Miss New Mexico, who suffered greatly following the crash: "half of an airline serving tray was lodged in her forehead, forming a small blue canopy over her eyes."
Referencing all the action movie tropes, and just generally being very vocally aware of their own plot and devices, our beauty queens are faced with the presence of the nefarious Corporation who are involved in a terrible plans to secure American economic interests via a war with MoMo B. ChaCha aka The Peacock dictator of the Republic of ChaCha (oh! and my favourite character - General Good Times!!!) - and the girls' lives are in the balance...with exploding hair removal cream among the weapons.
You will like this book. The one-liners were brill, the footnotes and the short chapters introducing the girls, Corporation advertisements and movie "trailers" just hilarity - I especially loved the David L. Evithan bit - great way to honour your editor, as well as basing dashing young pirates on them.
On a last note, I have to give props to Taylor. She is also a brilliantly memorable character and I cast Mandy Moore (circa Saved!) as the insane, dedicated girl warrior. "Let's not get all down in the bummer basement where the creepy things live. There are people in heathen China who don't even have airline trays."
*i enjoyed the two youngish kids looking at this book's cover at the shop the other day, completely ignoring the boobs (well done boys) and instead saying "this almost says 'library'! libbabberry libraberry librabrary."