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Going Bovine

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  35,631 ratings  ·  3,929 reviews
Can Cameron find what he’s looking for?

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.
Hardcover, 480 pages
Published September 22nd 2009 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
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Stephanie I think it would have been too long between when that happened and when he got sick. I thought he got it from the Buddha Burger place, it fits in with…moreI think it would have been too long between when that happened and when he got sick. I thought he got it from the Buddha Burger place, it fits in with the satire of the fast food restaurant, happy cows happy to be recycled... (less)
Alissa Nope. There are elements of Sci-Fi and Quantum Physics sprinkled in, but this is a fiction story.

Think modern remix of Don Quixote blended with Eterna…more
Nope. There are elements of Sci-Fi and Quantum Physics sprinkled in, but this is a fiction story.

Think modern remix of Don Quixote blended with Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind swirled with an added element of WTF.(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.65  · 
Rating details
 ·  35,631 ratings  ·  3,929 reviews

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Apr 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: client-s-books
I'm biased, of course. Libba's not just my client, she's my wife. But this is one of the funniest books I've ever read, and will break your heart at the same time.

She wrote the first draft of this book in one month, for a workshop organized by Cynthia Leitich Smith. It just poured out of her, and I knew it was something special when she'd talk about it with this little gleam in her eye.

Fans of the Gemma books may not initially think this is for them, but I think the romance, the humor, the quir
Apr 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: beware of an overuse of the f word, blah
Recommended to Annalisa by: YA book club
Bray takes on the great Don Quixote and delivers more than a modern satire. She gives us a wild ride worthy of Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz that is not only fun and hilarious but moving and exceptionally written. This novel is a monumental undertaking and somehow Bray accomplishes it.

In the beginning, I found Cameron wholly unrelatable, but Bray is so witty and has such a way with sarcastic metaphors and sneaking in description so you see and smell and hear and feel the book without
Nov 20, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
Sixteen year old Cameron Smith confidently states that the best day of his entire life was when he was a toddler and his family visited Disney Land. During that day he almost got himself killed in a freak drowning accident. Already it is evident of Cameron's mindset, or the teenage group he fits into: the lazy, jaded, underachievers that dwell within the restrooms of high school smoking pot. Things can't seem to get any worse until Cameron learns he has contracted Mad Cow Disease and that his de ...more
me + this book = fail.

I made it to page 93 and still wasn't feeling it. I think it was just a touch too random and there were so many tangents from the main story-line that I wasn't engaged enough.

Also, the quirky anecdotes and asides just didn't do anything for me. Perhaps as an Aussie I just have a different sense of humour and found it too hard to relate?

Once I started doing the skimming thing (I was trying to zoom ahead and see if I could stumble across the plot, somewhere, hidden in there.
May 28, 2010 rated it did not like it
As I plow through this sludge, I'm reminded of a favorite quote, which I think is from Charles Ives, "Awards are the badges of mediocrity." I am becoming cynical and distrustful of any work, fiction or otherwise, that wins any award.

I don't read a metric tonne of YA, I like much of it, and this book looked interesting. The cover, title, and premise of this novel intrigued me; but since I insist on doing idiotic things, like reading forwards, after I return home from the library, I should have k
Kat Kennedy
Okay, here's my review:

It started out good although very reminiscent of a modern-day Holden Caulfield.

Then it went really psychedelic.

Then I finished it and found something else to read.

Great concept - just kind of average execution.
Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)
I really wanted to love this, but honestly this was the weirdest book I've ever read, and I once read a book where the main character could listen to Justin Timberlake's music and literally transport herself into a realistic sex scene with him. So there's that. While there were a lot of things about this book that I really liked, I feel like I really missed the point unfortunately. The talking gnome was the best part though tbh. 10/10 would read an entire book about Baldr. ...more
Jun 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Somewhat apt analogy here: Libba Bray hanging out with the stoners and miscreants in the high school bathroom, some with little more on their mind than escaping the mundane world by getting high and wadding up the the institutional cheap-ass paper towels, getting them wet and hurling the gluey muck at the ceiling, while Libba's there doing the same, but through her cannabis fug is intent on recreating a Dale Chihuly-esque Bellagio Hotel-like thing of beauty, transforming the splatfest into somet ...more
Chesca (thecrownedpages)
“These are hard times. The world hurts. We live in fear and forget to walk with hope. But hope has not forgotten you. So ask it to dinner. It's probably hungry and would appreciate the invitation.”

One word to describe this book: CRUEL

It’s also one of the most honest books I’ve ever read.


I’m feeling everything all at once. I am bleeding light!

Libba Bray, how could you! Why would you make such a masterpiece that’s both life-changing and horrifying? But
This book starts out like any typical YA novel - our narrator is Cameron, a sixteen-year-old kid who is dealing with the typical family issues, going to a typical high school, and having typical sixteen-year-old problems and thoughts. We get through about sixty pages of this, so Libba Bray can set up Cameron's personality and situation, and then BAM. She flips everything on its head, and suddenly the book takes a U-turn into Crazyville.

Cameron is diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, better
Morgan F
There will be spoilers at the end of this review. Don't worry; I'll give you plenty of notice. I just hate clickin that little spoilers box, because if the rest of the world is like me, no one will read this review because of the energy it takes to open the page.

Cameron is just your average teen guy. He's lazy, aimless, and the highlight of his day is smoking pot in the school rest room. But then the unexpected happens: he get's mad cow disease, which is fatal in every single case. The only cha
Lauren Stoolfire
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
I had no idea what to expect with Going Bovine by Libba Bray, but I knew I was in good hands no matter what with Libba Bray. While it's totally worth picking up, but it's completely weird and unexpected in the best of ways. If you enjoyed the style and tone of Bray's Beauty Queens, I have a feeling you'll like this as well. ...more
Elle (ellexamines)
2 “it's not you, it's me” stars. Going Bovine is a comedy jam-packed with philosophy; unfortunately, the comedy aspect is a total fail in my book. There's no reason to hate this book; in fact, I absolutely understand how it could appeal to many. But only if the humor works for you.

Unfortunately, the humor style and I don't click. Whether you like this book is entirely dependent on whether you like the humor. I personally found the jokes more cringeworthy than funny. Yes, there are interesting m
Apr 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010, ya, 5-star
Wow! What a wild ride! Beautiful and sad.
Cameron is leading a boring teenage life; doesn't really fit in and doesn't really seem to care. He's mostly just going through the motions of life without really thinking about what matters to him or what his future holds.
Then, after having halucinations, he's diagnosed with Mad Cow Disease and that's when things get interesting. The pieces of his memories, random thoughts from his life are scrambled with physics and philosophy, reality and alternate un
Oct 08, 2009 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 04, 2015 rated it liked it
Ummm I don't fully know what to say about this book. It has such an interesting concept, but I don't know if lived up to its full potential. Cameron is such a quirky and fun MC... And really Going Bovine is just that as well, quirky and fun. Something just didn't click with me though. ...more
This book was funny, sad, and thought-provoking. I have to say this is probably one of the best teen books I've read in a while. And I agree with what Bray's husband said in his review; "this is one of the funniest books I've ever read, and will break your heart at the same time. "

The beginning starts off with Cameron in High School. He's an outcast and is pretty apathetic about life. Then he starts to have hallucinations and loses control of his body at times. His parents think he's doing drugs
Jan 28, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommended to ~Tina~ by: oliviasbooks
Going Bovine is one of those really cool books that you didn't know existed till it's in your hands and your madly flipping the pages to find out what's going on. Now this is a book that has so much meaning, so much heart, so much soul, but with a twisted witty humor to entertain every page of this masterpiece.

This book was a really trip and a half! I didn't know where Cameron's hallucinations start and where his reality ended. The lines are very fuzzy, but the adventure getting there was amazin
Jackie "the Librarian"
This book is too long, I don't like the cover, and yes, it's weird, and has swearing, and not everyone will like it. It won the Printz Award for best teen book of the year, which is debatable, as these things always are. I don't know who's going to read it, besides youth services librarians and the occasional nerdy teen bookworm. But, it's a great book. It was sarcastic, and creative, and unique - how many other books can you think of where someone has mad cow disease? Exactly!

Cameron is a slack
Oct 03, 2010 rated it it was ok
Well....I enjoyed the first chapter.

In all, the book was quite slow paced (480 freaking pages of it) and entirely predictable. The tone drove me absolutely insane. It sounded as if Bray was trying too hard to make her character witty and sarcastic. So instead of using the "Less is more" technique, Bray succeeded in creating a character that thinks they are incredibly funny and witty, when in reality, was extremely irritating.

I will admit that the concept of the book was original. But, sadly, poo
Jan 13, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: young-adult
There were things I liked about this book. The first 100 pages are pre-mad cow where the reader gets a taste of Cameron, his family, and school. Things that "happen" post-mad cow hark back to pre-mad cow. Which was cool. Because everythings connected. It was fun to see how different parts of Cameron's life popped up on his adventures.

It's also really well written, witty, and funny. Sad because Mad Cow is fatal

What I didn't like? It was boring. I slogged through this book for six weeks. SIX WEEK
Apr 13, 2010 rated it it was ok
I really loved the writing in "Going Bovine"; Libba Bray can write very well. I very much enjoyed the snarky dialogue but could have lived without the angst-y teenage BS. Cameron is not a lovable kid; he's miserable and transmits his misery page after page. His parents and sister are so unbelievably self-absorbed that I just could not connect with them or Cameron after wading through more than half of the book. I realy hate not finishing a book but I had to let this one go. However, since I real ...more
Jun 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I often put books down at a certain point because I basically know where they're going and, while I might be enjoying the story and even the writing, there's so much out there to read that I can't interest myself in seeing the perfectly nice, predictable book through to the end.

But Libba Bray's books are rewarding on a page-by-page basis. Sentence by sentence, even. As with her unimprovable Beauty Queens, I had no idea where this book was going ever, not for a minute. And I LOVED IT. I'm still n
Sep 19, 2011 rated it really liked it

ROAD TRIP! Who doesn’t love a good road trip? (rhetorical) Who doesn’t love to read about a road trip? Huh? C’mon… On the Road, Travels with Charley, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance? Anything?

Well, I do enjoy reading about them. More so when they involve hypochondriac dwarves, punk rock angels, fire giants, stellar trumpeters, time traveling vegan gurus, frenzied smoothie loving cultists who bowl, slutty cheerleaders, hermatic Inuit jam bands, wizards of reckoning, Viking yard gnomes
Dec 17, 2009 rated it liked it
You'd think a book involving Disney World, talking garden gnomes, dwarfs, punk-rock/combat boot wearing Angels and a teenager with Mad-Cow disease would be a riot, right?!?!?! You thought correctly my friend, it was quite the wild ride (to say the least). Honestly I have no idea where to even go with this review.......

Possible Spoilers

3.5 stars

Cameron is just your normal, albeit slightly dorky teenage guy. No one really pays him attention, he is just coasting by; he's got his life set on cruise
Nov 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
My favorite book of all time. Imagine Brian Lee O'Malley surrendering his masterpiece Scott Pilgrim series to Bob Dylan, Scott Adams and Jack Kerouac. The constraints are Scott Pilgrim is now a stoner who has mad cow disease, Ramona is a punk rock angel who flies in and out of Scott's life, and Wallace is a hypochondriac dwarf human. They all take a road trip through the dirty South and face many a task. New Orleans blues legends, smile cults, eskimo rock bands, evil snowglobes and the occaision ...more
Mar 31, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lars Guthrie
Dec 03, 2010 rated it liked it
Fun and funny enough to have kept me going to the end, but geez, Bray, in line with her name, paints with a broad brush. She gets by on brashness, and tosses out anything that is even close to subtle. Forget about nuance with 'Going Bovine.'

The premise—sixteen-year-old slacker from severely dysfunctional family gets mad cow disease and goes on hallucinatory quest to find Dr. X and save the universe with hypochondriac midget, talking gnome lawn ornament, and riot-grrrl angel as sidekicks—should h
Sep 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Going Bovine, by Libba Bray, is truly different from what I've ever read before. What a great book! Probably one of the most bizarre, yet sad books I've read in a long time.

I’ve been a fan of Bray for a couple years and truly enjoyed reading the Gemma Doyle Trilogy. Well, she does not disappoint with her novel Going Bovine. However, when I was reading this book, it didn’t feel like it was written by Bray, which in my opinion is the markings of a talented author who has an exceptional ability to
Jay G
Oct 19, 2019 rated it did not like it
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After a scary diagnosis, 16-year old Cameron takes part in a road-trip adventure to find the cure to his disease with the help of an angel named Dulcie, a dwarf named Gonzo and a talking garden gnome named Balder, who might be a Viking hero.

I was initially excited to pick this up because it was written by Libba Bray, author to one of my favourite series, The Diviners. Unfortunately, I r
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What is it about writing an author bio that gives me that deer-in-headlights feeling? It's not exactly like I'm going to say "I was born in Alabama…" and somebody's going to jump up and snarl, "Oh yeah? Prove it!" At least I hope not.

I think what gets me feeling itchy is all that emphasis on the facts of a life, while all the juicy, relevant, human oddity stuff gets left on the cutting room floor.

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