Book Review: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

It’s incredibly relevant right now.

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Beauty Queens by Libba Bray - book cover
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There’s been a lot of backlash over the new Lord of the Flies adaptation being made—one that has girls stranded on an island instead. I’m not a fan, because it looks like the new movie might ignore the defining idea of the original book (*cough* toxic masculinity *cough*).

If there was a female Lord of the Flies, it wouldn’t happen the same way that the original did. Boys and girls are raised differently, and they tend to respond differently because of that. A female Lord of the Flies would have to focus on the different expectations and perspectives that girls can have.

That’s where this book comes in.

Quote: The world is only as fair as you can make it. Takes a lot of fight. A lot of fight. But if you stay in here, in your little cave, that's one less fighter on the side of fair.

The Story:

Who doesn’t love a good story about people getting stranded on an island?

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray starts with a plane full of competing pageant queens. Unluckily for them, their flight crash lands on an island right before their big competition. They have to learn how to survive the island, each other, and whatever sinister thing is on the island with them, using the tips and tricks they picked up from their competitions.

The Book:

William Golding, author of Lord of the Flies, said that he wrote about all boys because 1. he wasn’t qualified to write about girls, and 2. because it would have all turned out differently had a group of girls been stranded instead. 

This book explores that alternate story, and it does it perfectly!

Quote: I love you for who you are, not who the world thinks you should be

What I Loved

  • The representation. This book has it all: Girls who love beauty competitions, girls who morally stand against them, LGBT+ characters, ethnically diverse characters, you name it! Each character has her own unique goals, history, and personality. Libba Bray wasn’t lazy when it came to representing how diverse a group of girls can be, that’s for sure.
  • How powerful the girls are. On their own for the first time, the girls learn to trust themselves in a way that they never did before. They stop minimizing their own opinions. They stop treating their experiences as unimportant. They stop listening to the insecurities that tell them that they aren’t smart enough to speak up. As the chapters go by, we see each girl learn how to use her voice.
  • The overall message. This is such an important book for girls (especially in their younger teens) to read. It talks about feeling out of place, like you aren’t powerful enough to achieve your dreams, and like you have something to prove just because of your gender—and how companies profit off of all of these things. Beauty Queens manages to include all of these topics, making them crucial to the issues that the girls face on the island, all without being preachy.   

Concluding Thoughts

If you couldn’t tell by now, I absolutely loved this book! It’s a fun read, the girls are hilarious and courageous, and it talks about the issues young girls face that unquestionably need to be talked about more.

This is the book to read for anyone who needs a little bit of inspiration to tell them that they can overcome the obstacles set in their path — and to ignore the people that say otherwise.

Quote: Maybe girls need an island to find themselves. Maybe they need a place where no one's watching them so they can be who they really are.

Tell Us What You Think!

Will you be reading Beauty Queens by Libba Bray? Which books have inspired you? What books do you want to see us review next?

1 thought on “Book Review: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray”

  1. See I love the idea of Lord of the Flies with girls as the main characters because I think all too often women are treated as “nurturing/gentle etc” and it ignores the complexity inherent in each person. Similarly, I felt like the main theme of Lord of the Flies was that humanity had the capacity for great evil, as evidenced by the fact that even the ship that picks the boys up is headed off to war. Since the book was written in 1954, women were still being reduced to traditional domestic roles, therefore it wouldn’t make sense to a male author that girls could be brutal. However, now we are more aware that both men and women can be evil and good, strong and weak. It doesn’t make sense to try to pretend women are the nurturing/mothering/”sweet” stereotype of the 50s anymore. We are so much more and so much less than that. We are humans.


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