Monday, October 3, 2011

Audiobook Review: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

From Goodreads:
The fifty 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? 

Libba Bray is a mad, crazy genius.  I do not claim to love everything she writes -- I'm still scratching my head over Going Bovine -- but I also can't deny her talent and ability to get her readers to think. She doesn't write fluff. She really goes for the symbolic. 

So I don't know why I was surprised when Beauty Queens turned out to be more than just fluff. I was expecting a wild, campy romp through a desert island with some ditzy cheerleader types, which is how the story starts off, but the more invested in the story you become, you begin to realize that this book is also a political statement, an imploring to get the reader to question the gender roles and stereotypes we've become accustomed to in our society.

It is clear as you're reading this that Bray pulls no punches when it comes to her political views so there's no doubt that the message and themes of the story will turn some people off, but that's the beauty of being an author - you have the ability to comment on society for anyone with a pair of eyes to see or ears to hear. Even if you don't agree with her stance, you should at least defend her intellectual freedom and her right to express those views. That's what living in America is all about. (Can you tell I'm still a bit hopped up from Banned Books Week?)

Let's talk about the audio presentation for a bit, shall we? It's not very often that an author can narrate her own audiobook, but Libba Bray rose to the challenge and performed the heck out of this book. It is clear from the word go that she obviously has a theatrical background because her emotion and character voices were perfection. I would go so far to say that this is one of the most memorable audiobooks I have ever listened to. The "commercial breaks" all had entertaining soundtracks and the way they were able to get the footnotes to work (with a little "Ding" type noise every time she went to read one) without being distracting was pure genius. This is one of those few audiobooks that manages to make book more enjoyable than if you had read it. That, in my opinion, is how you know you have an talented audiobook narrator. Based on this rolicking performance, I hope Libba will narrate all of her future audiobooks.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
Published: May 24, 2011 by Scholastic
Pages: 390
Audiobook Length: 14 hours, 34 minutes
Audiobook Narrator: Libba Bray
Genre: Satire/Realistic Fiction
Audience: Young Adult

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