So, I kind of have a thing about hype. I imagine myself to be a person who ignores the fickle ebb and flow of popularity and instead is influenced only by lofty things like quality and literary merit. Which is not a bad thing, per se, except for when it causes me to turn up my nose at really awesome books just because they happen to be getting a lot of buzz.
Friends, let me tell you â€“ Beauty Queens deserves every bit of buzz it got, because it’s pretty much amazing. Libba Bray clearly has some literary chops â€“ in 2010 she won the Printz Award for Going Bovine, and the books from her Great and Terrible Beauty trilogy landed her on the Teen Top Ten list in 2004, 2006, and 2008. I’m not sure, other than my previously mentioned aversion to popular things, why I doubted her. Bray knocked this Survivor-meets-Miss America-hybrid out of the metaphorical park. At first, I was skeptical â€“ why were the girls each such caricatures of their states? Miss Mississippi and Miss Alabama look so alike they’re hard to tell apart â€“ and they’re both dumb? Miss Texas is kind of insane, really bossy, and loves guns? Internally, I sighed â€“ but I kept reading. And, gradually, each of those caricatures got filled out and shaded into real, lovable, round characters. By the end, Bray had me pumping my fist and rooting out loud for the girls.
Beauty Queens is, by far, one of my favorite novels of the past year. Funny, feminist in the least preachy way possible, and surprisingly touching, Beauty Queens is a can’t miss book (and that’s not even to mention the sexy pirates!).
— Ariel Cummins, currently reading Sass and Serendipity by Jennifer Ziegler