"“Maybe girls need an island to find themselves. Maybe they need a place where no one’s watching them so they can be who they really are.”"
—Mary Lou, Beauty Queens
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray is a story brought to you by The Corporation.A plane of Beauty Contest contestants crash-lands on an uncharted island, where only a dozen women out of 50 survive. Along the way, they meet a bunch of guys pretending to be pirates (on a TV show brought to you by The Corporation), go insane and learn to survive. A Satire of the media and consumerism.
Action Girl: By the end, all of the women. Taylor and Adina especially.
Ax-Crazy: Taylor becomes this after eating too many berries. Or that's what the girls think. Agent Jones drugged her and made it look like she did it to herself. MoMo B. ChaCha is his own brand of ax crazy as well, sentencing people to death at the slightest provocation.
Black and Nerdy: Nicole is very smart and wants to be a doctor. However, unlike most examples of this trope, Beauty Queens explicitly discusses race.
Black Best Friend: Nicole grew up with this as the only TV representation of anyone remotely like her. It gives her enough identity issues that she has a nightmare during the girls' Mushroom Samba moment.
Brainless Beauties: Miss Alabama and Miss Mississippi. However, in Tiara's case it is discussed- she knows she's not very smart and so relies on being pretty, even though it makes her feel terrible about herself and she's always terrified that "there would be a test that didn't involve getting an A in pretty" and that she will let people down.
Creepy Doll: The Ladybird Hope doll is described as soul-sucking. Tiara also believes that her childhood stuffed dinosaur was alive and evil.
Cut Himself Shaving: When asked what happened to the winner and the first runner up for Miss Michigan, Jennifer cracks her knuckles and says they fell. Subverted in that the original contestants actually couldn't compete for innocent reasons.
Did I Just Say That Out Loud??: Agent Harris tells the girls The Corporation's plot to kill them, then says, 'Wait. I just said that out loud, didn't I? Damn."
Divine Intervention: In the beginning of the book, a fundamentalist girl starts singing that Jesus is their copilot in hopes that this will occur. Near the end, Shanti and Nicole are rescued by a wind they surmise must have come from the gods of the island's relocated indigenous people.
Elvis Impersonator: MoMo B. ChaCha dresses up as Elvis to fuel his hypocritical obsession.
Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Some of the background contestants are only referred to by their states. Near the end, it's revealed that it's because they all have the same first name. And the same middle name.
Heel Face Door Slam: Taylor starts out as irritating and crosses the line with her callous transphobic comments after Petra's reveal. However, when the radio is repaired and she realizes she's been wrong and her life is falling apart, she becomes more sympathetic, complete with Freudian Excuse. ...For all of one chapter until she's incapacitated. She's not dead, but she's been drugged out of her mind to keep her from revealing the Corporation's plan, and the others leave her be. Subverted later when you see that she's still fighting to regain her lucidity and she ends up saving the girls.
Parody Commercial: Fake advertisements for, among other things, plastic surgery ("Breast in Show. Because, 'You're perfect, just the way you are,' is what your guidance counsellor says. And she's an alcoholic), TV shows (Captains Bodacious IV: Badder and More Bodaciouser) and Maxi Pad Pets ("Brought to you by The Corporation: In your homes and in your pants.).
Transsexual: Petra is transgender. She takes feminizing hormones and would have gotten the full surgery but she couldn't afford it. She entered the Miss Teen Dream Contest to raise awareness for transgender rights.