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Going Bovine Paperback – September 28, 2010

4.0 out of 5 stars 173 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 8 Up—In this ambitious novel, Cameron, a 16-year-old slacker whose somewhat dysfunctional family has just about given up on him, as perhaps he himself has, when his diagnosis of Creutzfeldt-Jacob, "mad cow" disease, reunites them, if too late. The heart of the story, though, is a hallucinatory—or is it?—quest with many parallels to the hopeless but inspirational efforts of Don Quixote, about whom Cameron had been reading before his illness. Just like the crazy—or was he?—Spaniard, Cam is motivated to go on a journey by a sort of Dulcinea. His pink-haired, white-winged version goes by Dulcie and leads him to take up arms against the Dark Wizard and fire giants that attack him intermittently, and to find a missing Dr. X, who can both help save the world and cure him. Cameron's Sancho is a Mexican-American dwarf, game-master hypochondriac he met in the pot smokers' bathroom at school who later turns up as his hospital roommate. Bray blends in a hearty dose of satire on the road trip as Cameron leaves his Texas deathbed—or does he?—to battle evil forces with a legendary jazz horn player, to escape the evil clutches of a happiness cult, to experiment with cloistered scientists trying to solve the mysteries of the universe, and to save a yard gnome embodying a Viking god from the clutches of the materialistic, fame-obsessed MTV-culture clones who shun individual thought. It's a trip worth taking, though meandering and message-driven at times. Some teens may check out before Cameron makes it to his final destination, but many will enjoy asking themselves the questions both deep and shallow that pop up along the way.—Suzanne Gordon, Peachtree Ridge High School, Suwanee, GA END --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Starred Review, Booklist, August 1, 2009:
"An unforgettable, nearly indefinable fantasy adventure."

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, August 3, 2009:
"Bray's surreal humor may surprise fans."


From the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Ember; Reissue edition (September 28, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385733984
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385733984
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (173 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #124,604 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
GOING BOVINE, Libba Bray's surprising and unconventional new novel, is one of those books that seems impossible to explain. Doing so, however, is my job, so here it goes. Cameron Smith is the kind of kid you probably never noticed during high school (unless you, like him, were lighting up joints in the school bathroom). He is scraping by in his classes, not interested in college, and suffers from constant and disappointing comparisons to his perky, preppy twin sister Jenna. Basically, Cameron is on a slow but uncontrollable skid to nowhere.

That is, until his recent bouts of uncontrolled behavior and terrifying visions are revealed to be caused not by drug use (as his parents suspect) but by Creutzfeldt-Jakob's, better known as mad cow disease. Basically, the tissue in his brain is breaking down, turning into a spongy mess (and apparently also letting in armor-clad wizards and threatening pillars of flame). Pretty soon, Cameron is finding himself poked and prodded, stuffed into hospital beds and down MRI tubes, with a terminal diagnosis and the horrible realization that he might be about to die without ever having lived.

Guided only by cryptic clues from an elusive (and strangely attractive) punk rock angel named Dulcie and accompanied by a hypochondriac dwarf named Gonzo, Cameron sets off on a road trip/wild goose chase to find the enigmatic Dr. X, a physicist who disappeared as if into thin air years ago. According to Dulcie, Dr. X holds both the potential to destroy the entire world and the ability to cure Cameron's disease.
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Format: Hardcover
As a big fan of the Gemma Doyle trilogy, I was excited when I found out that Libba Bray was writing another novel.
I read the sample chapter on her website a couple of months ago, and I admit I was a little worried -- sure, Bray could very well write in the voice of a troubled girl growing up in the Victorian era quite well, but could she handle a teenaged boy?

Well, after reading the book, I learned that she was able to write in such a voice quite well -- though I think perhaps she could have toned it down a bit (ie, using words like suckage, throwing in "somewhat slang" when perhaps it wasn't necessary -- though, of course, I am not a teenaged boy; maybe they really do talk/think that way?)

Going Bovine was extremely entertaining. I really felt myself caring for Cameron, even if he was sort of the loser type. I especially enjoyed the interlocking bits of reality among all of the chaos in Cameron's head -- they were very sobering, and at times, very touching (ie, when Cameron's mother is at his bedside, and he squeezes her hand to let her know that he can hear her)

The ending, naturally, posed a lot of questions similar to those that you'd have after watching the Wizard of Oz -- was anything real? Cameron certainly seemed to be "thinking" clearly throughout his entire adventure, so it sort of makes you wonder what the story is with that -- it just can't simply be that everything was a delusion! (And whatever happened to Gonzo?!)

I do wish Cam's relationship with Dulcie had been formed a little better -- it was missing that quality that say, Gemma and Kartik had in their relationship. I feel like I really didn't know Dulcie much at all -- sure, she seemed sweet, but who is she? What is her character like?
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Format: Hardcover
Going Bovine is written from the viewpoint of Cameron Smith, a decidedly average high school student. His life is pretty boring at the start of the book: he's a social misfit with an incredibly popular twin sister, his parents are both teachers who can't understand why he's underachieving, and he has no friends aside from a few stoners and the clerk of the record shop he frequents. His life changes when he starts having strange visions and begins having difficulty controlling his body. Cameron learns that he has Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human form of mad cow disease, for which there is no cure. While in the hospital, Cameron is visited by an angel with pink hair and combat boots named Dulcie. Dulcie tells him that his disease has been caused by a wizard and that the same forces destroying his brain will also destroy the world. Dulcie tells him that if he can find Dr. X, he can be cured and save the world in the process.

On his quest, Cameron encounters all sorts of odd people: Gonzo, a Mexican-American dwarf from his high school, a garden gnome who's really a Norse god, a happiness cult, a New Orleans jazz musician, physicists, an Inuit rock band, and others who either help or hinder his mission. His journey takes him from his Texas hometown to New Orleans and Florida.

Bray gives Cameron a very believable voice and has created a pop culture manifesto with the crazy world he inhabits. Going Bovine is packed full of fun weirdness, but is also a soul searching journey as Cameron discovers that there is more to living than simply being alive. One of the best books I've read in quite a while, I would recommend Going Bovine to anyone, despite its being billed as a young adult novel.
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