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To sum up: A plane-load of teen beauty queens crashes on a tropical island already inhabited by a secret arms-dealing branch of The Corporation. Giant snakes, hallucinatory berries, and exploding Lady 'Stache-Off hair remover are the least of the young women's worries, but the question is: Will the reality-TV pirates be able to save them or will they save the pirates?
My Opinion: This parody/social satire seems to have gone to press way too soon: way too many characters that seem pre-cast with Hollywood A-listers just waiting for the screenplay; unsuccessful shifts and lapses in rhetorical stance; attempts at (David Foster Wallace-esque?) footnoting that jar us out of Bray's trademark breezy, forceful plotting; surfacey attempts to address dozens of social issues faced by teens and our society at large; and fantasy elements mixing with a reality-TV concept at way-too-coincidental moments combine to make this novel a true let-down.
I'm sorry, Libba: I still admire your humor and creativity, but you and David L. rushed this too closely on the heels of Going Bovine, I'll warrant. Another draft in which you honed Beauty Queens in every regard would have made this another exceptional effort. As it stands, it's a mixed up, though often entertaining, mess.