Beauty Queens
Goodreads ratings
3.61 / 5

"Beauty Queens" Summary

By Libba Bray

young adult | 396 pages | Published in 2011

The 50 contestants in the Miss Teen Dream pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras.But sadly, their airplane had another idea, crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner. What’s a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program - or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan - or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up?Welcome to the heart of non-exfoliated darkness.


Estimated read time: 5 min read

One Sentence Summary

A group of beauty pageant contestants must band together to survive on a deserted island after a plane crash.


"Beauty Queens" by Libba Bray is a satirical young adult novel that challenges traditional gender roles, beauty standards, and societal expectations. With a blend of humor, adventure, and thought-provoking commentary, the book takes readers on a wild and empowering journey. Set on a deserted island, the story follows a group of beauty pageant contestants who must navigate survival, self-discovery, and the unraveling of their perceptions of femininity.

Brief Synopsis

The novel is set on a remote island in the Pacific Ocean, where a plane carrying fifty beauty pageant contestants crashes. The survivors, all teenage girls, find themselves stranded on the island without any adult supervision. As they struggle to survive, they also confront their own preconceived notions about beauty, femininity, and the roles they have been conditioned to play in society. The story is filled with humor, adventure, and insightful social commentary as the girls work together to overcome their circumstances and redefine their identities.

Plot Overview and Setting

The story unfolds on an uninhabited island, where the beauty pageant contestants find themselves after a plane crash. The island's lush but perilous environment becomes the backdrop for the girls' journey of self-discovery and empowerment. As they learn to survive in the wild, they also navigate the challenges of their own personal growth, confronting societal pressures, and redefining what it means to be a woman in the modern world.

Main Characters

The book features a diverse cast of characters, each with her own unique personality and background:

AdinaFierce and outspoken, challenges beauty standards
TaylorThe driven and organized pageant leader
Mary LouKind-hearted and religious, with hidden depths
NicoleA talented feminist with a flair for engineering
JenniferA tough and resourceful survivalist

Summary of Different Story Points Over Chapters

Chapter 1-5: The Plane Crash and the Island

The story begins with the contestants on a plane headed for a beauty pageant. When the plane crashes on a deserted island, the girls must quickly adapt to their new environment. They face immediate challenges, including finding food, water, and shelter, while also dealing with the shock and trauma of the crash.

Chapter 6-10: Survival and Discovery

As the girls settle into their new reality, they begin to explore the island and its resources. They learn to work together and utilize their individual skills to build a functional community. Along the way, they discover hidden secrets about the island and uncover their own hidden strengths.

Chapter 11-15: Unraveling of Perceptions

As time passes, the girls engage in discussions and debates about societal expectations, beauty standards, and gender roles. They challenge each other's beliefs and begin to question the notions that have been imposed on them by society. Their interactions lead to moments of self-reflection and personal growth.

Chapter 16-20: Confronting Dangers and Revelations

The girls encounter various dangers on the island, from wild animals to natural disasters. These challenges test their resilience and force them to confront their fears. Amidst the chaos, they also make surprising discoveries about themselves and each other, deepening their bonds and reshaping their perspectives.

Chapter 21-25: The Pageant Reimagined

As the girls prepare to be rescued, they decide to create their own pageant on the island, redefining the traditional concept of beauty and femininity. They celebrate their individuality and strengths, embracing a new sense of empowerment and self-acceptance. Their reimagined pageant becomes a symbol of their transformation and unity.

Main Events

  1. The plane crash that leaves the girls stranded on the island.
  2. The discovery of the island's resources and the girls' efforts to survive.
  3. The unraveling of societal perceptions and the girls' journey of self-discovery.
  4. Confronting dangers and making surprising revelations about themselves.
  5. The reimagining of the pageant as a celebration of individuality and empowerment.

Themes and Insights


  1. Femininity and Beauty Standards: The novel challenges traditional notions of femininity and beauty, emphasizing individuality and self-acceptance.
  2. Societal Expectations: The story explores the pressure imposed by society on young women and the impact of these expectations on self-image and identity.
  3. Empowerment and Unity: The girls' journey highlights the power of solidarity and the importance of supporting one another in the face of adversity.


The novel offers insights into the complexities of female identity and the impact of societal norms on young women. It encourages readers to question stereotypes and embrace their authentic selves.

Reader's Takeaway

"Beauty Queens" offers readers a humorous and thought-provoking exploration of gender, identity, and societal expectations. Through the diverse and compelling characters, readers are invited to reflect on their own perceptions of beauty and femininity, while also enjoying a thrilling and entertaining story.


In "Beauty Queens," Libba Bray delivers a compelling narrative that challenges stereotypes and celebrates individuality. The novel's blend of humor, adventure, and social commentary makes it a captivating and empowering read for young adults and beyond. As readers follow the journey of the beauty pageant contestants, they are invited to reconsider their own beliefs about beauty, femininity, and the power of solidarity in the face of societal pressures.

Beauty Queens FAQ

  1. What is 'Beauty Queens' about?

    Beauty Queens is a satirical young adult novel by Libba Bray that follows a group of beauty pageant contestants who become stranded on a deserted island. As they struggle to survive, they also challenge societal norms and expectations.

  2. What themes are explored in 'Beauty Queens'?

    The novel explores themes of feminism, gender roles, beauty standards, and the pressure to conform to societal expectations. It also delves into topics such as friendship, identity, and the power of self-discovery.

  3. Is 'Beauty Queens' suitable for young adult readers?

    Yes, 'Beauty Queens' is categorized as a young adult novel and is suitable for teen readers. However, it contains mature themes and some strong language, so parental discretion is advised.

  4. Does 'Beauty Queens' have diverse representation?

    Yes, the novel features diverse representation, including characters of different races, sexual orientations, and body types. It also addresses issues of inclusivity and acceptance.

  5. What makes 'Beauty Queens' unique?

    The novel's unique blend of humor, social commentary, and adventure sets it apart. It combines a survival story with a critique of beauty pageants and societal expectations, making it an engaging and thought-provoking read.