Going Bovine by Libba Bray

2009
02.25

bovine In a complete departure from her lauded Gemma Doyle trilogy, Libba Bray takes readers through the wormhole in this existential “moo”-gnum opus about a selfish teen who contracts Mad Cow Disease and, as a result, learns what it means to really LIVE. Sixteen-year-old Cameron is your typical self-absorbed teenager, obsessed with comic books, obscure music and little else. His parents’ marriage is crumbling, his popular sister denies his existence and he has been without a close friend for so long that he doesn’t even notice how lonely he is anymore. Then one day he begins seeing flickering flames in his peripheral vision and losing control of his various appendages. Turns out our man Cameron has gotten a hold of some bad beef, and now he’s going to die. Cameron is not cool about this new development at all, but what can you do when the universe decides that it’s time to punch your ticket? Well, you can go on a road trip. In the hospital, Cam is visited by a pink-haired angel named Dulcie who convinces him that there is a cure for his disease if he is willing to follow a set of totally random clues to Disneyland. Determined not to bite it before he at least loses his┬ávirginity, Cameron hightails it out of the hospital, with the help of his new friend Gonzo, a psychosomatic Little Person gamer, and his dad’s emergency credit card. On his way to Space Mountain, Cameron encounters New Orleans drag queens, Midwestern religious cult nuts, and a Nordic god disguised as a yard gnome. He buys a used Caddy with horns on the hood, is a contestant on a MTV-like spring break game show, and even does a little time traveling. Suddenly Cameron is having the time of his life–just as he is about to die. Of course, this whole adventure could just be a product of his spongy brain, which is slowly being turned into cottage cheese by his disease: it’s hard to say. Better not to ask too many questions and just enjoy the very wild and funny ride Libba Bray is taking you on that reads like a combination of Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth, Cervantes’ Don Quixote and Christopher Moore’s Fluke. It’s weird. And wacky. And I’m still not sure I completely understood the physics bits. But in terms of marrying the suburban with the sublime and imparting the message that every day is a gift and living in the present is the best present you can give yourself, well, Bray hit it out of the park. Hard core Gemma Doyle fans may have a hard time making heads or tails of this one at first. But hang in there, G & TB lovers, and you will soon recognize your favorite author’s trademark sarcastic humor and boundary-pushing sensibilities in this surreal tale, albeit in a whole new time and place. An “udder”-ly original offering from a multifaceted author that won the 2010 Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature!

16 Responses to “Going Bovine by Libba Bray”

  1. Cindy Dobrez says:

    I envy your students who will have access to your arc! I heard about this one at ALA and can’t wait to read it, especially after reading this review. I think you and Libba should go on tour together!

  2. Jen Hubert says:

    Hee hee! It is one the funniest books I’ve read in a while. I would love to tour with Libba–she is a rock star!

  3. Lynn Rutan says:

    Love the review ;-) I can’t wait for this book!

  4. Lourdes says:

    I love any book that is odd and literary daring especially in the YA genre where the field has been transformed in the past few years. I also am noticing a trend where more YA books concern themselves with young death and it is nice to hear of a book that takes another paranormal aspect of it. I cannot wait for this book. Dare you for teasing me this way.

  5. Paradox says:

    I am SO thankful for this book! I got an ARC and am reading it right now. I am actually obsessed with the idea of parallel universes, the science and the fiction, as well as other parts of theoretical physics. It’s practically impossible to find some of my weirder interests in YA lit, but here they are!

  6. Brianna says:

    :D I pre-ordered it yesterday! But Barnes & Noble told me I couldn’t get it until the twenty-second. Do they get it later, or something?

  7. Jen Hubert says:

    Hi Brianna,

    Sometimes bookstores do get new releases at different times. And the dates do often change, so keep your eye on the website, you may end up getting the book sooner than you think!

  8. bjneary says:

    Hi Jen, love your 10 best list, I wait for it every year. I read this book, my review on Goodreads and I wasn’t so keen on it. But reading your review, I understand a bit more. I loved the funny parts and I guess I really hoped he didn’t bite the dust but I think it onlt got three stars in my book.

  9. heriberto says:

    i like your blog because it tells me diffrent things about the books .

  10. Jan Markley says:

    I wrote and open letter, on my blog, to the dirt bag who stole my copy of Going Bovine … Check it out ;-j

  11. Alexis says:

    I loved this book just wanted to say =P. Very funny and awesome to read. I might even give it to my friend to have a little laughs xD

  12. Jen Hubert says:

    Alexis, the best thing you can do with a book is pass it on. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment:)

  13. Shenandoah says:

    I heard about this book LOOOONG before it came out (via this site! :D) and immediately got all excited about it!
    I’ve finally gotten to read it now and OMG!!! XD It’s the most hilarious book I have EVER read! I absolutely LOVE it! I’ve passed it on to a few friends and they love it too! Thanks for sharing this great book with the world!
    :D

  14. OKapi says:

    Such a refreshing light novel with powerful messages!

  15. I had this book on my reading list, thought it was going to be boring and it turned out to be great! :)

  16. London says:

    This book really blew my mind. The apperance of the so called angel and of the christian camp that realy sucked the life out of every thing in its grasps and made everything perfect were two things that seem out of place when seperated but together were like magic. The settings along the road (when in Louisana) where so real and true,this book had a surprise ending that included everything I’m intrested in: Irish Mythology , the idea of parellel worlds and that people can come back to the world after leaving their plane of existense.

    I’m sorry for the spoliers in my review.

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