Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

This started as one of the funniest teen books I have ever read. Imagine a group of beauty contestants becoming stranded on a deserted island after a plane crash. Yes, there is a dark edge to it - people do die in the crash, but everything else is so wacky. There is a fight about whether the teen contestants should continue practicing their pageant skills (the dance number, the all important question round, etc) so they will be ready when they are rescued or should they spend more time trying to survive (find shelter, food, etc). It seems like a simple question to answer - and it is for Miss Texas who is put in charge and decides the pageant skill are too important to give up now.

Throw in a bunch of hunky reality television pirates, exploding facial cream, a huge man eating snake, mysterious happenings near the volcano, and a possible international arms deal and you have story that can go anywhere. In addition to the storytelling, there also bios of the contestants, commercials and secret memos thrown in occasionally to give some background info and add more funny stuff.

For me, the humor tapered off as the story went on, but it was still a fun adventure with some strong characters and a message, too.

Click here for more info about this book from the Westfield Washington Public Library.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

My Life, the Theater and Other Tragedies by Allen Zadoff

I was in drama in high school, but it was nothing like this book. Maybe I am just forgetting how it really was...still, in this story there is a code: actors do not socialize or even speak to the crew (or techies) unless they absolutely have to (and vice versa). Adam is fine with that. He would much rather spend time up on the catwalk working with the equipment and thinking about lights. He has not been comfortable in the dark since his dad died a few years ago, so Adam is never without a light.

Derek Dunkirk (son of the famous architect) has designed the whole production of A Midsummer Night's Dream - lighting, costumes, props - the whole thing. He is pretty much directing it, too, since their drama teacher, Mr. Apple has given up on almost everything.

When something goes wrong with the production (which is often), Derek usually blames the techies and Adam has been taking the brunt a lot lately. Imagine Adam's surprise when Summer, a new actress, steps into his spotlight and seems interested in him. Adam does not care about the code, but others do. Derek (who has a reputation for dating actresses and techie) is also interested in Summer.

I do remember in high school theater that there was often more drama going on behind the scenes than on the stage. This book captures that for sure.

Click here for more info about this book from the Westfield Washington Public Library.