The Clasp by Sloane Crosley These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik

Keep On Surviving: Beauty Queens and The Maze Runner

Monday, November 11, 2013

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

WHAT'S THE DEAL? The Miss Teen Dream pageant turns into a living nightmare when the plane carrying the finalists crashes and the survivors are forced to try and stay alive on a tropical island. However, something seems a little off and the girls band together to figure out what is going on and how they can escape. 

ANY GOOD? Lost meets Survivor (make that a Survivor All Stars season where everyone is extra competitive) meets Miss World. A satirical roller coaster that was an absolute perfect read to tie with all the feminist debates that seem to have pushed to the forefront in the online world this year (thanks Robin, Miley, and creepy Uncle Terry). The best way to describe the heart of this book is Ms Norbury's quote in Mean Girls:

In other words, we're all in this together and we need to have each others' backs! The girls are all from different backgrounds and cultures but they had to put their differences aside in order to survive. The girls had a lot of time on their hands to discuss their place in the world. One of my favourites was when they were talking about women always apologising for saying something - even when what they're saying is an important contribution to a debate!

"'Why do girls always feel like they have to apologize for giving an opinion or taking up space in the world? Have you ever noticed that?' Nicole asked." [Page 151, Beauty Queens by Libba Bray]
I see this constantly - I am guilty of it too! This is at the crux of Sheryl Sandberg's advice in Lean In - you have a right to sit at the table, so sit your butt down at the table and speak up! 

The girls also speak about their imaginary alternative to beauty pageants - Girl Con. How amazing would that be? I'm sure there are similar events that occur around the world and I know there's International Women's Day but wouldn't it be great to have a Girl Con every year? Ahhhh, there's just so much to dissect and discuss when it comes to Beauty Queens. I wish I'd read it for a book club or something because it's the kind of book you want to have a conversation about rather than review. So I'll just finish here. 

ADD TO BASKET? Yes - everyone should read it! 

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

WHAT'S THE DEAL? Thomas wakes up in a box of sorts to find a group of boys staring at him. He has no idea who they are and cannot recall anything except for his name. The boys soon begin to explain he is in The Glade, which is a space surrounded by what seems to be an unsolvable maze, and he can't go home - wherever that might be. Life as a Glader means doing chores until the doors close at night, keeping out the terrifying Grievers. Thomas begins to accept his new life but the boat is rocked again when a girl arrives. No other girls live in The Glade. The girl - and Thomas - signal the end and they need to figure out what they have to do in order to save their new friends. 

ANY GOOD? This book had kind of escaped my notice until I came across something about the film adaptation. It started off a little slow but by the time I reached the middle, I was completely absorbed in this strange world. By the end, it was actually quite sinister, particularly with the introduction of certain new characters. I've never read Lord of the Flies (I know, terrible isn't it?) but I suspect there are parallels. I thought the revelation about their names was an interesting twist and helped add another layer to an already fairly complicated group of characters. It was also nice to have a diverse set of boys too. Overall, I was impressed with The Maze Runner and it will make an excellent film. I can't wait to see what the Grievers look like! 

ADD TO BASKET? If you want to get ready for Catching Fire with another survival, dystopian story. 

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