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George Orwell Meets Barbie

Sensational Saturday

A blog for fun! Fun! fun!

I don’t read too much YA, but when my daughter insisted I read Beauty Queens, I took the plunge. The cover cracked me up, a bandoleer of lipsticks on a bikini clad girl, but I was still a little leery. Luckily she was right. Beauty Queens is a fabulous book. Author Libba Bray has achieved the impossible, a YA that is both serious and fun, and highly satirical.

Beauty Queens by libba braeThe most interesting thing about Beauty Queens for me is that Libba herself is the narrator. I am listening to it on audio as I drive back and forth to work. I fact I missed two exits on my way to Rom Con because of the book. In audio books the narrator makes all the difference.

I’m usually not a big fan of authors narrating their own books, but Libba does a superior job. She does all the girls in different voices, and the sparkle she adds to the footnotes is amazing. Yes there are footnotes. Forty seven I believe. And Libba does them all in a bright and shiny announcer’s voice that the Corporation (TM) would be proud of.

The Corporation. Here’s where the fun starts.

Lovely girls survive a plane crash, that’s an interesting plot. Brings up memories of Lord of the Flies and high school. But you’ll see I’ve mentioned George Orwell, not Golding. This book is a satire, and one of the ways Libba has worked that is to add in, not just overly shiny commercials and footnotes, not just a culture that mimics ours in a satirical way, but she’s brought in the Corporation. The Corporation controls the world, in other words, our compulsive consumerism has put commerce in charge of our lives. What would your life be like if consumerism was the number one motivator?

We’re not that far from it, and Libba makes her point with ease. At the same time she exposes our cultures obsession with beauty, the lack of respect for girls with brains, and she does it all with flair and fun. I was laughing out loud. You will too.

And I highly suggest reading it in audio. I have yet to read the print book, but Libba has cleverly added bonus features to the audio. Every time the disks changed one of the girls came on and announced it. And then there is Libba herself. I can’t imagine how I would have read this book without her voices. Each girl has her own and they are spectacular.

It’s not paranormal, but Beauty Queens is one of the best books I’ve read all year. And I think it may be one of the best audio books ever.

Want to get to know the genius behind the covers? HERE is an interview with Libba.

Have you had a surprise summer read this year? Ever read a book that is better in audio than in the print version? (Not that I’m saying that about this one, I hear the print is pretty good, but you miss out on Libba.) Who else is making a dent in their TBR pile while driving to work? Or are you all sitting in beach chairs lounging with your drinks, hot waiters and your books?

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