01 October, 2010

Book Review: Going Bovine



Title: Going Bovine
Author: Libba Bray
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: ?? I've seen it called Fantasy, YA Speculative, Adventure, Surrealdark Comedy, it could probably be called Paranormal, the NYT said she smashes the genre and grinds the tiny pieces into the sidewalk. So. You decide.
Page Count: 480
Rating: 5 out of 5
Cover Rating: 4 out of 5. Cow+gnome=perfect. I like the black too. The font's a little big, but they did get the author's name right. Bold, small, and at the top. It's visible, but it's not dominating the picture.

Inside flap:

All sixteen-year-old Cameron wants is to get though high school--and life in general--with a minimum of effort. It's not a lot to ask. But that's before h's given some bad news: he's sick and he's going to die. Which totally sucks.
    Hope arrives in the winged form of Dulcie, a loopy punk angel/possible hallucination with a bad sugar habit. She tells Cam there is a cure--if he's willing to do in search of it. With the help of Gonzo, a death-obsessed video-gaming dwarf, and a yard gnome who just might be the Viking god Balder, Cam sets off on the mother of all road trips through a twisted America of smoothie-drinking happiness cults, parallel-universe hopping physicists, mythic New Orleans jazz musicians, whacked-out television game shows, snow-globe vigilantes, and disenfranchised, fame-hungry teens into the heart of what matters more.

My expectations: High. I really, really liked The Gemma Doyle Trilogy, and Going Bovine did win the Michael L. Printz Award.

Despite that, it still managed to exceed my expectations.

About the book: It is EPIC. Everything is covered Going Bovine, it seems like. Death, life, love. How to live, why we're here, what's actually real. Plus, this book is funny and the characters are some of the best in a single book. It's very, very satisfying overall and I'm struggling here to think of a really weak spot.

The reason for the title? Cameron Smith has Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, also known as mad cow disease, only it's the human version. It's incurable. He starts hallucinating--or so he thinks. Fire giants, angels, flames, all caused by what the doctor tells him are prions.

When I finished this book I had to meditate on it for a while. I do that for books that have really, strongly struck a chord with me, and believe me, this book did that. It was excellent.


  • Plot:

Hallucinations allow for some pretty amazing events to happen. This is one wild ride, from start to finish, and the situations they get themselves into are crazy. In the good way. It's a bit like The Hitchhiker's Quartet, only this time, Cam's set to die from the disease.

The ending is great. For a second I was thrown, and then the book just ended. It was abrupt, but I loved it.


  • Characters:

Cameron Smith is a jerk. But he's a lovable, dying jerk who's trying to figure out the insane situation around him and gets a little less-jerky as time goes on (I said a little). He wasn't one of my favorite characters, but he was perfect for the story. Stubborn, fiesty, and just willing to believe the crazy things Dulcie tells him.

I loved Dulcie. Go, punk rock angels! Her spunk, her attitude, her attire. Fabulous. She's strong, too.

Gonzo is, as it says in the synopsis, death-obsessed. If not death, health-obsessed. Fish? Poisons! Hotel room? Germs! Spot on his lung? Tumor! He takes everything to the extremes, but he was a good character.

Balder. Poor Balder, forced into clothes as a garden gnome and made to pose with passing tourists. He was a funny little gnome; I liked him.

There are plenty of other characters thrown in, and at a variety of places; they were all well-written.


  • Setting/Elements:

I LOVED the science aspect. 'Cause how many YA fiction books have physics in them? The Copenhagen Interpretation? Shrodinger's Cat? Parallel universes? Accelerators? Awesomeness, people. The scientists were depicted as being a little weird and maybe just a tad insane, but it wasn't a total stereotype.

The whole Cretzfeldt-Jakob disease thing is interesting; I hadn't known there was such a thing before, but I guess there is. I liked the way she put it into the story; is just the disease, a hallucination, or is it real?

Other: Language, drugs. There are a lot of drug references, and it mentions several times that Cameron has been "stoned" in the past. With the language, it's put in like it would be in a teenager's mind; seekers of really clean literature beware. There's also drinking/smoking, and some sex.

Do I recommend this book? Yes! Absolutely, and to people who read a wide range of genres.

(You have GOT to check out the site for the book, watch the interview, read about Putopia, and all that other good stuff: Going Bovine Website)

-----The Golden Eagle

12 comments:

Darlyn said...

Great review! I have this book on my TBR list but havent have the opportunity of getting one yet. Hope soon I will =)

brave chickens said...

Your review was great :) So I'm adding it to my TBR list! :D

Hannah said...

I loved this book and the Gemma Doyle trilogy too! Great review! You really summed up the book very well because it's so complicated and very hard to sum up. Nice review. I'd add it to my reading list if I hadn't already read it :)

paulgreci said...

This book has been on my TBR list for a while now. Thanks for the reminder!!

Hannah Kincade said...

I'm definitely putting this on my list! thanks for the review!

Arlee Bird said...

Excellent review for a strange sounding book. You've got my curiosity about it. It seems like a long book for what it is.

Lee
Tossing It Out

Medeia Sharif said...

I own it and can't wait to read it.

Alison said...

Fabulous review! I think it's the best review I've read of this book. Thanks so much!

The Golden Eagle said...

Darlyn: I hope you do too!

Brave Chickens: I'm glad you liked the review. :)

Hannah: It was a bit complicated. A lot of different things were going on at a fast pace.

Paulgreci: You're welcome!

Hannah: Read it quickly! :)

Lee: It is a bit long, but I don't believe anything's wasted. It moves fast and is a page-turner.

Medeia: Enjoy reading it! :)

Alison: I haven't noticed that many people reviewing it, but I did like it a lot myself.

Misha1989 said...

I am so glad to see a high rating for this book. Gemma Doyle trilogy is one of my favorite series. Going Bovine had to be great too! Thanks for the review!

Sun Singer said...

With a cover and a title like that, I've got to know more. Thanks for posting such a thorough review.

Malcolm

The Golden Eagle said...

Misha: That trilogy was amazing. Gemma Doyle is one of my favorite protagonists.

Malcolm: You're welcome. :)