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Going Bovine by Libba Bray
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Going Bovine

by Libba Bray

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,5941444,563 (3.79)108
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Showing 1-5 of 144 (next | show all)
Cameron Smith’s just another high school stoner slacker, heading nowhere in no hurry, when he starts hallucinating in class. Although initially suspected to be marijuana-induced, Cameron’s soon diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob variant BSE (mad cow disease) and told there is little hope for recovery. As he waits in the hospital, an angel named Dulcie appears to him and tells Cameron that if he can find the time-traveling physicist Dr. X, he can be cured. Determined to live, Cameron sneaks out of the hospital with his classmate Gonzo and begins an epic road trip through the American South. On the road, he picks up a third traveling companion: the Norse god Balder, trapped in the body of a lawn gnome thanks to the intervention of Loki.

Man, this book is just weird. There’s a lot going on as layers of reality intersect, leaving the reader uncertain about what’s real. Is Cameron really on the road, following the directions of an angel only he can see, or is this all a massive hallucination from his hospital bed? If it’s a hallucination, does that make the adventure any less of a “real life” for Cameron?

Not that I care, really. Cameron is really, truly annoying. In some ways, he’s that ultimate hipster, so desperate to be ironic and cynical that he doesn’t take joy in anything. But a hipster is at least interested in cultivating an image; Cameron lacks the ambition or drive to achieve even this, so he’s just another lazy pothead. Sure, shit happens to him, and suddenly he’s trying to cope with this horrible disease. I should feel sorry for him. But all Cameron does is whine and complain.

There’s a lot of pop culture and pseudo-pop culture thrown in here. Cameron’s memories constantly return to a family vacation in Disney World, where he nearly drowned after jumping out of a boat on the It’s A Small World ride. He talks about the park throughout the story, and Dulcie gives him a bracelet modeled on the old-fashioned ticket system the theme park once used. He also obsesses over the conflict between the Coyote and the Roadrunner in those old Bugs Bunny cartoons, constantly imagining himself in a similar situation. But that seems relatively minor compared to the fictional celebrities (modeled on late 90s MTV programming, I think) and the Copenhagen Interpretation, a band that combines the weirdness of Bjork with the mad popularity of Beatlemania. It’s a send-up of our own pop culture, our obsession with youth culture and latching on to that fifteen minutes of fame, no matter the cost to our dignity, but…it just isn’t that funny, or interesting, or even scathingly biting.

And the plot just rambles on and on. It’s a road trip that never ends. En route to their ultimate destination of Disney World, Cameron and Gonzo meet up with a legendary New Orleans musician, stumble into the clutches of a cult, buy a used car, find a Norse god, pick up hitchhikers and live out the spring break beach party fantasy. In between adventures, Cameron flashes back to the hospital where he’s still in bed, getting injected with shots or overhearing people talking about his condition. Some people might like the hallucinatory quality of the narrative, but to me it just felt like reading a hot mess filled with teenagers engaging in sex, drugs, and whining angst. ( )
  makaiju | Jul 26, 2014 |
Bizarre, quirky, and at turns charming and grating. I really don't know how best to review this book. I hated parts and loved parts. Different from anything I've read recently. ( )
  klarsenmd | May 20, 2014 |
This is an original, bizarre, quirky book filled with in-your-face humour. It's the first book I've encountered where I was captivated by the acknowledgements. Although protagonist is an irritating teenager, you can't help but love him. The main character's life spins out of control on two levels. It is mythic and mystical. However, I was a little disappointed that the ending wasn't more. ( )
  Bonnie_Ferrante | Apr 14, 2014 |
I don't know if this is the worst young adult novel of a generation or the best.

First, I think this would be a fabulous book to use in high school English classes to teach literary devices such as symbolism, foreshadowing, etc. ESPECIALLY symbolism. That being said, it'll never see the light of day in public schools because of the sex, drugs, and language.

My parents never censored my reading as a kid, I think it was a good thing. But I am uneasy with the main character. I don't like him. He's, well, a teenager, I guess. Perhaps if I wasn't 30, his attitude wouldn't have bothered me as much.

Definitely worth a go. ( )
  steadfastreader | Mar 18, 2014 |
I absolutely love quirky, random books and Libba Bray has some great ones. The story of a boy diagnosed with BSE goes on a road trip with his friend Gonzo and a yard gnome named Balder in an attempt to find the man who will cure him. He is given advice and guidance by an angel that only he sees . He learns and experiences many things all the while avoiding the authorities who are on their tail. A great road trip tale. ( )
  kgthor | Feb 9, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 144 (next | show all)
Libba Bray not only breaks the mold of the ubiquitous dying-teenager genre — she smashes it and grinds the tiny pieces into the sidewalk. For the record, I’d go anywhere she wanted to take me.
 

» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Libba Brayprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Davies, ErikNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Take my advice and live for a long long time, because the maddest thing a man can do in this life is to let himself die. - Cervantes, Don Quixote
Hope is the thing with feathers. - Emily Dickinson
It's a small world after all. - Walt Disney
Dedication
For my parents with love. This one's also for Wendy. And, as always, for Barry and Josh.
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The best day of my life happened when I was five and almost died at Disney World.
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Book description
All 16-year-old Cameron wants is to get through high school—and life in general—with a minimum of effort. It’s not a lot to ask. But that’s before he’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 go in search of it. With the help of a death-obsessed, video-gaming dwarf and a yard gnome, Cam sets off on the mother of all road trips through a twisted America into the heart of what matters most.--Amazon.com
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Cameron Smith, a disaffected sixteen year-old who, after being diagnosed with Creutzfeld Jakob's (aka mad cow) disease, sets off on a road trip with a death-obsessed video gaming dwarf he meets in the hospital in an attempt to find a cure.

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