You probably know Libba Bray from A Great and Terrible Beauty or Going Bovine.
When her latest offering, Beauty Queens, came out, I was more than a little hesitant. The last book in the Gemma Doyle trilogy wasn't very good, and was a little bit too into it's message. However, the audio book was in the library, and I figured I had nothing to lose.
While the first few chapters are hilarious and a little heartbreaking, and the audio (Read by Libba Bray herself) was entertaining, it went a bit off after that.
For instance, Beauty Queens became less of a satirical play on the exaggerated behavior of the Miss Teen Dreamers, as a perky, gun-toting, Texan, named Taylor calls them and more of a sermon on why it's ok to be everything you want to be, unless it's a Christian. Or a Republican.
For instance, Petra, Miss Rhode Island, is actually J.T. Woodland from Boyz Will B Boyz, Bray's fictional take on everyone's childhood boy band. He/She has decided to get a sex change and is in the middle of taking hormones and was going to use the pageant money to get the surgery done.
Look, I don't care if you're character is LGBTQ (Example: I loved John Green's/David Leviathan's Will Grayson, Will Grayson). I don't agree but if it's a good book, I'm not going to put it down. But it's when the characters get preachy that it starts to make me uncomfortable. Libba Bray isn't so much writing a satire on brainless beauty queens as pushing her political agenda. And again, you've got your own political views, that's your view, not mine. But it's when you start shoving it down my throat that I'm not going to deal with it. And while I do agree with some of the points Libba makes in the book (Girl shouldn't be sorry about having an opinion, beauty pageants are demeaning in a lot ways, pageants parents are even more demeaning), but it felt so hypocritical and in your face that I couldn't deal with it.
Also, even the feminist-to-a-fault Adeena throws that to the wind when TV show pirates show up on the Island. Then everyone starts having explosive sex or whatever. Honestly, I didn't finish the book and looked up reviews to gather what happens.
Altogether, this one is a mess in a pageant dress.