Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (audio)

A plane full of beauty queens crash onto a island where a corporation has set up shop in a volcano in order to do an arms deal with a crazy dictator.

I've been sitting on this review for a while now because I am not entirely sure where to begin with this book. It's a commentary of how women are treated in society. It's a satire on beauty pageants. It's a Survivor meets  Lord of the Flies (with girls) meets Miss Teen USA. It's mostly just like nothing else. Libba Bray is the Tom Robbins of Young Adult fiction.

To say I loved it is an understatement. It is a truly enjoyable book that gave me a lot of food for thought. I enjoyed the diverse cast of characters and the treatment of the various issues that arose from transgender to race, nothing was off topic. Each girl's character was explored thoroughly and most if not all displayed tremendous character growth.

It was a fun book too. I loved the Captains Bodacious, the reality TV pirates. I loved the crazy dictator who is love with the former beauty queen turned presential hopeful and who loves Elvis and carried a stuffed lemur named General Goodtimes. I love the play on the standard shipwrecked trope mixed with the evil corporation mixed with the villian's lair being located in a volcano. I loved the footnotes and the commercial breaks and the running commentary interspersed through the book. It is a different kind of book but not one to be missed.

I am usually very apprehensive about author read audio books. Just because you can write doesn't mean you can read in an entertaining manner. But Libba Bray just delivers this book in an amazing way. There is a reason is she won the 2012 Audie Award Winner for Best Narration by the Author because her reading of this book really sells it and gives it something extra. Readings like this are the reason why I like audio books and why I always say the narrator makes a huge different in the quality of the audiobook.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross

Mira longs to visit the town she was born in where her parents died saving her. But her godmothers have forbidden it along with so many other things. But close to her 16th birthday, Mira sneaks out of town and travels to Beau Rivage to find her parents' graves and learn more about her past. There she finds more secrets and lies in a town where fairy tales come true and the people are marked with their destiny. 

I pick this up on the recommendation of Twitter who said it was an amazing book. So because I love fairy tales and twisted retellings, I bought it. It was okay. I was frustrated with Mira. I wanted her to see more than she was allowed. I know that her ignorance of fairy tales can be explained by her godmothers' banishment of any of that kind from her house but it frustrated me nonetheless. I was also frustrated by Blue who was obviously going to become the love interest. His character was so alarming in the beginning and yet he just kept showing up. But in the end he won me over. 

I liked the dark tone set by the fairy tales. It is pointed out many times that fairy tales don't always have a happy ending for everyone involved and they can be quite violent. And this makes for a fairly interesting story for Mira. I think some of the actions are a little gross though given the fact that she is only 15. The story seems to lose sight of that on occasion. So it was a decent read especially if you love fractured fairy tales. It just wasn't the most engrossing one I have read.