Study Guide

Taylor Krystal Rene Hawkins (Miss Texas) in Beauty Queens

By Libba Bray

Taylor Krystal Rene Hawkins (Miss Texas)

Like her name, Taylor is larger than life. While the other characters are getting up from the plane crash, Taylor is already calling them to attention. She's ready to take charge, and to do it in style.

The Ultimate Sparkle

As Taylor says confidently in her speech for group leader, "I can shoot a thirty-aught-six as well as a nine-millimeter and a Pink Lady paint gun. Last year, I took down my first buck, which I cleaned, filleted, and vacuum sealed, and with my taxidermy skills, I stuffed the head and used the antlers as a supercute jewelry tree, which I plan to market for the Armchair Shopping Network in the spring." (3.47)

Who can compete with that?

Taylor is almost unreal in her effectiveness and can-do attitude, so she's more often a comic character than a serious one. As she has completely drunk the beauty pageant kool-aid, her voice often echoes that of The Corporation in the beginning. She spouts sayings like "We are bright, shining lights in the darkness" (6.162) and "That's real Miss Teen Dream thinking." (3.62)

Which may make you feel a little queasy in the tum-tum, but at least at this point in the book, that's kind of the point. After all, her role model is Ladybird Hope, a head honcho of The Corporation, and she gets all her philosophies from her.

But even in her early-in-the-book caricature form, Taylor is a very effective leader. Aside from her insistence on prioritizing pageant practice, Taylor finds the girls a food source, incentivizes them to create shelter and weapons, and keeps the group together. That girl scout can handle more than selling cookies.

When Adina takes charge later in the book, she imitates Taylor to keep the group from turning on each other: "I can't believe I'm about to do this, but do you know what Taylor would say right now if she weren't off licking trees in the jungle? She'd say, 'I am really disappointed in you, Teen Dreamers. We are supposed to be sisters. Sisters who love and trust one another, who work together until it's clear that there is a favorite sister chosen to be the best and wear a pretty crown." (20.71)

Condescending, maybe, but the strategy works. Thanks for the inspiration, Tay-Tay.

Taylor the Reformed

Of all the characters in the book, Taylor might be the one who changes the most. Transforming from the most kool-aid-drinking of all the beauty queens into a deadly, jungle fighter is pretty drastic, after all. But the change has a clear starting point: when Taylor stops believing that The Corporation is going to save them.

"If you did everything right, they had to love you. That mantra had seen her through countless pageants. But this time she'd done everything right and they were leaving her anyway." (18.15)

Okay, so finding Agent Jones and getting hit with four of his hallucinogenic darts is what actually makes her a little funny in the head. But let's be real: Taylor was clearly headed for a breakdown anyway. Her worldview has fallen apart. She's tried more than anyone else to do exactly what she imagined the judges would want from her in a survivor scenario—but they abandoned her anyway.

And since her mother left her when she was six, girl has some serious abandonment issues. Maybe that's where all the fighter skills come in.

Taylor, Warrior Princess

It's pretty amazing that while under powerful hallucinogens, Taylor is still able to not only defend herself, but the rest of the Teen Dreams, too. Especially considering that everyone else who ate the fruit is reduced to babbling nonsense. Taylor babbles nonsense and executes silent, deadly flip-kicks at the same time.

Because she's not able to speak coherently to the other girls, hallucinogen-addled Taylor represents the ominous, growing danger on the island. The girls feel unsettled when they see her, but don't know why. The readers watch Taylor take down the black shirts, but the fact that the other Teen Dreams don't know what danger they're in adds to the tension.

In the end, Taylor is the only girl who opts to stay on the island rather than return to civilization. From being bossy and beauty-obsessed at the beginning, Taylor has come to prefer her unkempt, wild self more to the life of a beauty queen. And it may just be the killer ninja moves, but she makes that alternative look pretty compelling.

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