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Book Review: Crowned by Julie Linker

 Book Review: Crowned by Julie Linker


Presley Ashbury needs two thousand dollars for an event that her best friend Justine would describe as a cattle market or a misogynist tool of patriarchy.'Presley prefers to use the more mainstream description for it, however: beauty pageant. Or rather, scholarship pageant, which is apparently the PC term for a thoroughly un-PC event.

Anyway, Presleys not your typical wealthy, privileged beauty queen. Her reason for competing is less to do with her desire to mince around in a bikini and tease her hair up higher than your average serving of fairyfloss than it is to do with the fact that beauty pageants can be lucrative, and Presley needs the money for uni. (Ah, America, you have a very,'very flawed academic system if the most viable way to get a scholarship is to strut your stuff on a catwalk.)

Unfortunately for Presley, though her pageant talent might be tap dancing, in the real world her most salient talent is her unsurpassed ability to get into harms way at every opportunity. Presleys what you might call a bit of a ditz (and thats a euphemism), you see. And her astonishing gaucheness is milked for all its worth by the author, whos clearly having a good deal of fun with this book and with poor like, really? Presley. A quick glance into the deep thoughts of our protagonist: Is everybody in the whole world smarter than me? And isnt Oedipus Rex a dinosaur?

Although Presley might be doing her very best to keep on top of things, shes sadly not all that good at it (too much hairspray inhalation over her short lifetime, perhaps). The dramas quickly add up until shes facing an evil beauty queen, a cheating boyfriend, an underage drinking scandal, meanness from cheerleaders, and a rich boy who may be (but hopefully isnt) using her just to get back at his Senator dad. And, worst of all: cellulite.

Its probably not spoiling the plot for you to say that the book, well, pretty much plays out as you expect a YA chick-lit style novel containing a love triangle and beauty pageant might. The plot is probably the weakest element of the book, really. Not just because its predictable, but because it uses that very predictability to move forward. The various complicating events dont really seem to hang together or arise out of much else other than chancethey just do what they need to do to set the characters on their way to the finish podium (never fear: I wont tell you where Presley places). The romance between Presley and the rich boy, for example, seems to just burst into being (rather like Athena from the head of Zeus, although poor Presley probably thinks that Zeus is the plural of zoo. But I digress.)

The book, too, occasionally gets bogged down in its efforts to show the dark side of beauty pageants (or darker side, if youre like me and think that beauty pageants dont really have a light sight to begin with). Theres a scene towards the end of the book, for example, that tries to highlight the tragedy of a competitor whos become scarily thin, yet is still pushed to compete by her mother. Unfortunately, when seen through Presleys eyes it just doesnt quite have the impact that it should.

Rather, the strongest bits of the book are where Presley is well and truly getting her airhead on (this happens quite a lot). Although there are a few instances where the humour falls flat or is pushed to a fanciful extent, its the ongoing poking of fun at Presley and the pageant world thats actually the books strength. Presleys narrative voice does have a tendency to ramble and get lost in asides (see all these epenthetic comments? Im being clever over here), but its what largely keeps things trotting along.

Rating: star Book Review: Crowned by Julie Linkerstar Book Review: Crowned by Julie Linkerhalfstar Book Review: Crowned by Julie Linkerblankstar Book Review: Crowned by Julie Linkerblankstar Book Review: Crowned by Julie Linker (not bad)

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 Book Review: Crowned by Julie Linker


  1. There are definitely many things wrong with our college system, which is why it is so easy to make fun of. If you are interested in the darker side of beauty pageants, you should check out Drop Dead Gorgeous. A dark comedy about a deadly beauty pagent.

    • Stephanie /

      Im just constantly amazed by the stratification in the US. Its fascinating as an outsider, but also very eerie. Thanks for the recommendationIll check it out.

      • Social economic status has definitely polarized in recent years, but it has always been a problem here.