Cross the TV epic Lost, with a reality TV show, mix in a bit of spoof and a dab of not-to-be-taken-seriously and you have Beauty Queens by Libba Bray.
50 contestants for the Miss Teen Dream Beauty Pageant crash land on a remote island while flying to the pageant. The survivors, convinced that they will soon be rescued, set about working on their tans, losing weight (due to the lack of food) and perfecting their pageant routines. But survival becomes more important as time passes with no rescue, forcing the girls to put down their pom-poms and eyeliner and combine their surprisingly vast and useful knowledge and experiences to ensure they survive until their rescuers arrive.
But strange things are happening on the island… there are lights flashing from the top of the volcano, mysterious men in suits with machine guns and a cave full of hair removal cream. And that’s before the pirates and film crew turn up.
Each survivor’s back-story and their own reasons for entering the pageant are revealed throughout the course of the book. The characters are diverse and each person develops in spirit, skill and self-awareness as they struggle to survive. At the conclusion of the story the girls are hardly recognisable from the first few chapters. The message for readers: know yourself and don’t be afraid to be yourself.
This is a humorous read that begs not to be taken seriously (especially when they start launching bottles of foundation out of catapults at their attackers) and will be a new favourite for many of us.