On their way to compete in the Miss Teen Dream pageant, a plane full of teen beauty queens crashes on a desert island. The diverse group of survivors bands together despite their fierce competitiveness and makes do by pooling their skills and re-purposing evening gowns, hair dryers, and other beauty supplies into survival equipment. In the midst of some intense female bonding, the girls begin to suspect that they aren’t alone on the island. Throw in an evil corporation, a Sarah Palin-esque pageant director-cum-villain, a whack-a-doodle dictator, and a group of sexy, reality-show pirates, and you’ve got an island adventure like no other.
Libba Bray’s latest takes a wacky plot set-up and somehow makes it even more ridiculous in the best possible way. A biting satire of our consumption-driven, beauty-obsessed, reality-show-infatuated culture, this is also a straight-up adventure story with strong female leads who realize that they have more to offer than pretty faces and perfectly groomed resumes, that they can be friends despite their differences, and that sexuality is not something to be ashamed of. Bray takes different female stereotypes, pushes them to their extremes, and then subverts them all while keeping the plot rolling along. This book is so over-the-top that it may alienate more close-minded readers, but there’s enough entertainment here for girls (and boys) of all different reading tastes to like.
Reviewed from an ARC received from the publisher at ALA Midwinter.