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Going Bovine

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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 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.

480 pages, Hardcover

First published September 22, 2009

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About the author

Libba Bray

25 books15.1k followers
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. I could tell you the facts–I lived in Texas for most of my life; I live in New York City with my husband and six-year-old son now; I have freckles and a lopsided smile; I'm allergic to penicillin.

But that doesn't really give you much insight into me. That doesn't tell you that I stuck a bead up my nose while watching TV when I was four and thought I'd have to go to the ER and have it cut out. Or that I once sang a punk version of "Que Sera Sera" onstage in New York City. Or that I made everyone call me "Bert" in ninth grade for no reason that I can think of. See what I mean?

God is in the details. So with that in mind, here is my bio. Sort of.


1. I lived in Texas until I was 26 years old, then I moved to New York City with $600.00 in my shoe ('cause muggers won't take it out of your shoe, y'know . . . riiiiight . . .) and a punchbowl (my grandmother's gift) under my arm. I ended up using the punchbowl box as an end table for two years.

2. My dad was a Presbyterian minister. Yes, I am one of those dreaded P.K.s–Preacher's Kids. Be afraid. Be very afraid . . .

3. The first story I ever wrote, in Mrs. McBee's 6th grade English class, was about a girl whose family is kidnapped and held hostage by a murderous lot of bank robbers who intend to kill the whole family–including the dog–until the 12-year-old heroine foils the plot and saves the day. It included colored pencil illustrations of manly-looking, bearded criminals smoking, and, oblivious to the fact that The Beatles had already sort of laid claim to the title, I called my novel, HELP. My mom still has a copy. And when I do something she doesn't like, she threatens to find it.

4. My favorite word is "redemption." I like both its meaning and the sound. My least favorite word is "maybe." "Maybe" is almost always a "no" drawn out in cruel fashion.

5. My three worst habits are overeating, self-doubt, and the frequent use of the "f" word.

6. The three things I like best about myself are my sense of humor, my ability to listen, and my imagination.

7. I have an artificial left eye. I lost my real eye in a car accident when I was eighteen. In fact, I had to have my entire face rebuilt because I smashed it up pretty good. It took six years and thirteen surgeries. However, I did have the pleasure of freezing a plastic eyeball in an ice cube, putting it in a friend's drink, ("Eyeball in your highball?") and watching him freak completely. Okay, so maybe that's not going down on my good karma record. But it sure was fun.

8. In 7th grade, my three best friends and I dressed up as KISS and walked around our neighborhood on Halloween. Man, we were such dorks.

9. I once spent New Year's Eve in a wetsuit. I'd gone to the party in a black dress that was a little too tight (too many holiday cookies) and when I went to sit down, the dress ripped up the back completely. Can we all say, mortified? The problem was, my friends were moving out of their house–everything was packed and on a truck–and there was nothing I could put on . . . but a wetsuit that they still had tacked to the wall. I spent the rest of the party maneuvering through throngs of people feeling like a giant squid.

10. I got married in Florence, Italy. My husband and I were in love but totally broke, so we eloped and got married in Italy, where he was going on a business trip. We had to pull a guy off the street to be our witness. It was incredibly romantic.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,027 reviews
Profile Image for Barry.
37 reviews57 followers
May 31, 2009
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 quirk that is Libba shines through here just as much as it did in those books.
Profile Image for Annalisa.
547 reviews1,378 followers
April 12, 2010
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 it slowing down the plot that I didn't want to stop reading even though I didn't care about Cameron who was a total loser. He's going nowhere at school. Gets fired from his job with good reason. Hates his family and they aren't too fond of his slackerness either. His only hobby seems to be to listen to music he hates so he can mock it. He's high at least once a week. Shows no hope, no responsibility, and elicits zero sympathy from me. But Bray managed to keep me interested in his story and smiling at her wit despite the f-word coming out in every sentence. (Isn't it against some social norm to say the f-word when you're talking about Disneyland?)

Just as I was getting turned off with the too modern feel (references to WTF, 'rents, things like that) in a story that didn't seem to go anywhere, Cameron develops mad-cow disease and starts his mental decline. That's when he heads out on a mission to save himself and the world. On his travels, he takes a hypochondriac dwarf, picks up a talking garden gnome, and heads toward the happiest place on earth following clues of the seemingly random with help from a punk-rock angel. Yeah, it's that whacked.

I laughed and smiled through all his misadventures that were really the adventure in disguise. The way Bray weaved everything in his life from snow globes to cartoons into this adventure so that it was not only important but part of some grander metaphor for his life was utter genius. I am in awe of Bray's creative power. Through his whole crazy adventure, you can laugh at this story for the slapstick humor or find that deep meaningful awareness of pot talk (not that I've ever been there).

You know that feeling when you finish a book or a movie and you feel like something monumental has happened, but nothing's happened to you. All you did was watch a movie or read a book. That's how I felt when I closed this book, which is pretty amazing that Bray made me experience the book on its terms. But this book isn't for everyone. Just like you have to be in the right mood (or the right person) to appreciate Alice in Wonderland or The Wizard of Oz, you have to be there to appreciate this. For all my disdain at the swearing and my initial turn-off to the character (which ended up being necessary), for what the book accomplishes, I have to to say, "Wow. That's a palindrome." (It's in the book.)

Minor Spoilers in my symbolism-happy analysis:

Favorite quotes:
-The best day of my life happened when I was five and almost died at Disney World.
-Scoring well on tests is the sort of happy thing that gets the school district the greenbacks they crave. Understanding and appreciating the material are secondary.
-I've never done acid, finding it hard to go willingly to a place that could be frightening, hellish, and totally beyond my control. A place much like high school.
-For the record, our friend Chet King has read exactly three books in his life, but I'm not sure that sitting through The Happy Bunny Easy Reader twice should count.
-Cross-pollination of our educational experience.
-Chet nods at me in that ages-old macho greeting: I have acknowledge your existence, peon. Do not ask for more.
-"You coming to the game, bro?" "Can't. It's against my religion... Apathy."
-Jena's ubergirl lair. No doubt any serial killer would take one look at the lavender walls covered with sensitive girl songwriter posters and dive out the window anyway.
-All hail the suburban action hero.
-Resigned, I trudge over to the register, wondering if girls can smell your total fear, like wolves or very experienced serial killers.
-I've been poked and prodded in places I'd always prided myself on keeping untouched for that one special doctor who gives me a ring and a promise someday.
-As a coping tool, denial is severely underrated.
-He's decked out in full protective gear... like a giant medical paranoia snowman or some eccentric pop star addicted to bizarre fashion choices.
-Had they eaten each other in a drug-induced, hate-fueled orgy of excess—the dark side of celebrity.
-There are several Dr. A**holes who come in here every day to scribble on my chart and poke with sharp objects so they can collect points for their Sadistic Scout Badges, but so far, no Dr. X.
-The waitress takes note of his Little Person status. It's like it stalls out for a minute and she needs to reboot, but the forced smile comes back.
-Gonzo shakes his head like I'm giving him Bubonic Plague in jewelry form.
-Gonzo's revving as hard as an engine, like he doesn't know whether to be more freaked out about getting in the van with a bunch of possible serial killers or to take his chances alone on the side of a road in Godonlyknowswhere, Mississippi.
-You're guaranteed the same experience every single time. And you're having the same experience as everybody else. It cuts down on things like dissatisfaction, envy, competitiveness, longing, regret. All that bad stuff.
-I am special; special people do not die.
-I want to help you find what I've found. Here, have a key chain.
-They say it might take twenty-four hours to fix [the smoothie machine:]. That's like a lifetime!
-I think about dying every day, because I can't stop thinking about living.
-Tara looks at him like he's just said all babies should be euthanized.
-As a kind, I imagined lots of different scenarios for my life. I would be an astronaut. Maybe a cartoonist. A famous explorer or rock star. Never once did I see myself standing under the window of a house belonging to some druggie named Carbine, waiting for his yard gnome to steal his stash so I could get a cab back to a cheap motel where my friend, a neurotic, death-obsessed dwarf, was waiting for me so we could get on the road to an undefined place and a mysterious Dr. X, who would cure me of mad cow disease and stop a band of dark energy from destroying the universe.
-The world's most bada** Viking yard gnome is on the counter by the cash register using a dinner plates as a shield and a steak knife as a sword.
-I thought I was having an existential crisis, but it was nothing.
Please don't tailgate: body in trunk.
-The air smells like it's just been born.
-Here. Now This. This is it, cowboy. The whole ride. Pay attention.
-It's got enough megawatts lighting to give a space station lightbulb envy.
-It's the whole damn unfairness of it all. Like I'm just starting to understand how amazing this whole crazy ride is going to be and now it's coming to an end.
-When it comes, her kiss is like something not so much felt as found.
Vikings. Not great with subtlety.
-I realize I'm really tired. But a good tired, like I've spent all day at the beach.
-Who but the mad would choose to keep on living? In the end, aren't we all just a little crazy?
Profile Image for Thomas.
1,520 reviews8,987 followers
December 21, 2010
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 death is inevitable. After his immediate hospitalization a drug-induced hallucination appears by his bedside and persuades him to find a cure and save the world from evil fire giants. The remainder of the book details his adventures, including punk cow angels, New Orleans greatest musicians, Slurpee machines gone wild, and a talking yard gnome. Throughout his exciting endeavor Cameron learns what truly separates simply existing and living life to the fullest.

Whether it was the fact that I was busy achieving this book's theme (living life) or that the plot seemed to drag, it took me quite a long time to finish this novel. What stood out to me the most but failed to impress me was the seemingly endless middle portion of the book where Cameron goes on the crazy adventure. Bray does a good job of communicating the fact that Cameron's brain is deteriorating - yet I never felt a connection to the character at all. Which is strange because I am an adolescent male.

The main highlight of Going Bovine was its humorous events. There were moments I found myself laughing out loud due to the sheer hilarity of occurrences taking place. There were also quite a few allusions to various individuals and objects, however, because of the book's intended age group I'm fairly certain that many teenagers will not understand the references and will be left scratching their heads in confusion.

Another good aspect of Going Bovine was its central theme or the idea that Bray is trying to communicate throughout the story: living life to the fullest and not letting yourself simply exist. The theme was stuck into almost every situation Cameron found himself in, so even the most uneducated teen could understand what the book is about. Sadly, Cameron's little fantasy that was taking place inside his mind didn't enthrall me at all - by the middle of the book I was rapidly flipping the pages not because I couldn't wait to see what was happening, but because I wanted to get it over with. A little note to the side is that the last few pages were actually extraordinary, it was one of the few moments I found myself emotionally connecting to the story and characters. Overall I would only recommend this to people that don't have a to-read list containing a large amount of books because Going Bovine will take you a while to finish and by the end you may be wondering why you bothered to read it in the first place (although it wasn't that horrible).

Want to read more of my reviews? Follow me here.
3 reviews4 followers
July 7, 2010
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 known better. I found the writers mocking and limp satiric voice off-putting, not nearly so in the teenage protagonist, but still...satire needs to be leavened with wit, truth and sympathy, all of which are almost completely lacking in this book.

Yet, I am plowing on, at nearly the half way point, the book is just a chore to read. I will put up with language, sex, violence, anything, as long as it is integral to the story, it's development or morality - in this case it seems to have been the product of (perhaps an attempt at) shock value, or maybe pseudo-realism, and ultimately comes off as cheap writing. Also the book is full of modern cliches about everything - the wise African American, Jazz loving, record store owner; the detached, fitness obsessed, morally obtuse, overly logical father; the ditsy, liberal arts Mom; the shallow, weight obsessed, mocking cheer-leader sister; the Texan, Christian, high school hypocrites. Blah, blah, blah.

The protagonist is unlikable, which is fine for a start, but after 100 pages I wished him to go away, especially since the novel is all first person narrative. Also, as someone who was a nerdy teenager, not too long ago, he just didn't seem real - I remember what it was like to be 16 and on the outside, not caring about much, but still there was something very manufactured about him, and his world. It didn't ring very true - the writing is very good (in spite of my comment above about choices of language), the author, Libba Bray, knows how to write; but the story just didn't jive very well. All of the irony and Don Quixote references were slathered on far too thickly for my taste and showed an inability to create a plot of originality or value - as a result the story didn't generate any longing for more, for beauty, or for the character to triumph. It is basically a modern anthem to a sort of Nietzsche-ian despair and a plummet into narcissism, disguised as wisdom. Plus it didn't help that the works major conceit is transparent, I am 99% sure I know how the book will end, and peeking at the other reviews here confirms my suspicions. The bulk of the narrative, the whole peripatetic voyage is too much, all the time, small doses, honey please. The humor is cruel and un-truthful, and the topics of attack are frankly easy in our current culture. She takes on materialism - oh no, not that, no one's ever done that before; and mega-corporations, oh, no, not that, not like the mega-corporation that's publishing this tripe. Please. Here other targets are equally easy - and in fact she has neither a consistent philosophy or moral vision for the work so far - what she likes is lauded, what she dis-likes is condemned, hypocrisy is the main theme - and since hypocrisy is the ne plus ultra of modern sins - so what? She reveals throughout the book her own hypocrisy...at any rate...

If you want a dark window into our culture - with little literary or redemptive value, you might like this book - otherwise, don't waste your time or money. I have rarely been moved to write such a scathing review, but the waste of talent that this book represents and the awards it garnered demanded it. I'm highly suspicious that it was the meaninglessness and nastiness of this work that prompted the awards - how else to explain the awards with its lack of merit, originality, or vision.
Profile Image for Montzalee Wittmann.
4,604 reviews2,309 followers
February 10, 2023
Going Bovine
By Libba Bray
After reading The Diviners, I wanted more from this author and this was available from the library in audio. I am so glad I found it! What a gem of a book! It has wit, action, a cross country adventure with a skinny terminal ill boy, a teenage death obsessed dwarf, and a talking garden gnome. I shouldn't leave out the punk rock looking winged messenger that helps Cameron on his journey to find Dr X.
See, Cameron has Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease, which is like Mad Cow only the human version. As an ICU nurse I have only seen one case in all my years in nursing. The doctors at the time told us this is rare and most doctors and nurses will never deal with a case like this.
Well, Cam's punk rock angel came to his hospital and convinced him to go on an adventure to save himself and the world. The whole book is clever, touching, humorous, magical, and sad, yet hopeful.
This is definitely one of my favorite books.
Profile Image for Kat Kennedy.
475 reviews16.3k followers
August 17, 2010
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.
Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,479 reviews19.4k followers
April 11, 2017
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.
Profile Image for Snotchocheez.
595 reviews335 followers
June 28, 2016
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 something gorgeous.

Going Bovine, Ms. Bray's 470+ page attempt to tackle the mysteries of life (or something), is not exactly "high art", but there's lots here to admire. For some (including yours truly) maybe too much. More than a few times I found myself rolling my eyes at its madhouse lunacy (evoking the feelings I got from Ready Player One) yet throughout I couldn't help but marvel at the creativity on display.

Cameron (our narrator) is well on the way to loserhood, often hanging out in the stoners bathroom at Calhoun High (in Texas) to forget that he's the polar opposite of his popular twin sister and the center of opprobrium to his parents. A particularly wicked smoke session ends badly, with Cameron hallucinating "fire giants" hell-bent on infernal destruction. Bad pot? Turns out, no. In the hospital he's diagnosed with advanced stages of Creutzfeldt-Jakob (aka Mad Cow Disease). He's visited by a pink-haired punk-rock angel named Dulcie and encourages him to take a road trip with his asthmatic, probably hypochondriac dwarf hospital roommate named Gonzo and find the elusive "Dr. X" to save his life.

Thus begins the Bray seemingly-stoned-splatfest where she wheels out the smörgasbord of projectiles: Bad-ass Nordic garden gnomes, snow globes, a bowling alley church of perpetual happiness (and unlimited 300 games and holy nachos), Buddha Burgers, Inuit pop stars, New Orleans jazz legends, string theory (and wormhole, and alternate reality) physicists, Schrödinger's Cat, Shithenge (not to be confused with the non-fecal stone version), corporate branding gone amok, reality TV, The Happiest Place On Earth...ad (seemingly) infinitum. Oh, yeah, can't forget Bray's glue: a healthy splooge of Cervantes' Don Quixote.

Yikes! It's tough to imagine all this splatted disparate arcana actually cohering into a work of art. I'll be the first to admit there are plenty of missteps on display here, but I've not been as consistently (if guiltily) fascinated by an author's imagination in quite a while.
Profile Image for Chesca (thecrownedpages).
309 reviews161 followers
February 6, 2017
“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, oh well, most life-changing things scare you first and keep you awake at night thinking.

“The best day of my life happened when I was five and almost died at Disney World. I'm sixteen now, so you can imagine that's left me with quite a few days of major suckage.”

Going Bovine tells the story of Cameron Smith and how his life was slowly drained out of him by mad cow disease. It’s an adventure that will keep you looking for the meaning of life, serving you answers with the aid of a gnome, a dwarf, and a pink-haired, sweet-toothed angel.

I didn’t expect all the things that this book contained. It was so random, literally, but the author was able to stitch up those weird things together to create so much depth, leaving a big, black hole in my chest.

I was hesitant at first to read this book because I usually don’t like stories that focus on characters that would most probably die due to their disease. I still gave it a try because Libba Bray wrote it and I love her The Diviners series so much. The things that Cameron went through were so unpredictable. It just showed how creative the author is and that she’s excellent in it.

The author’s writing for this book is flawless, even though a huge amount of cussing was thrown into it to inject a certain amount of casualness. It was, in itself, filled with personality.

“Who but the mad would choose to keep on living? In the end, aren't we all just a little crazy?”

This was such a hilarious read although it tackles serious issues in life that we usually don’t discuss. What would you do if you were told that you could still be saved from dying in the hands of such an incurable disease? Would you give it your all and take the risk of finding a solution to that problem? What makes life worth living? What defines happiness? Is there even a time for love if you’re dying? What awaits us at the end of the road? There were just so many questions that clawed at my soul throughout the story, that by the end of it I was bursting with enlightenment (and tears).

Cameron lived a normal and ordinary life before he got sick. He had issues like most teenagers. His sister went with the popular kids who didn’t like the weird ones like him, and so they didn’t get along. His parents’ relationship was slowly being torn apart by the affair that his father was most-probably having with his secretary, and his mother’s weakness in opinions and decisions.

I could relate to Cameron in some ways and that made me feel sad. He was driven by his will, by his hope, even though the path he was taking didn’t absolutely guarantee what he was seeking. Maybe, in some ways, at some points in life, we’ve all been like him: fueled by want and desire to reach a goal.

Meeting Dulcie somehow changed Cameron’s life. It was an opportunity of tainting the night sky with bursts of fireworks. She was adorable, a bit confusing sometimes due to her indirect instructions and statements as a messenger and guide. Dulcie was a very interesting character, but among all of them, she was the one I least understood as a person due to her being mysterious.

Gonzo, the dwarf, was quite entertaining. He had OCD, which was basically induced by his mom. He had to make sure that anything he ate or used was sanitized well enough based on his mom’s standards.
Balder, the yard gnome who claimed to be a god cursed, was also very amusing. The way he talked was very formal, and he spoke of his identity and where he came from firmly and surely, neglecting people’s doubts about him.

“She never utters a sound even when she's crying, and that makes me a little sad. Doesn't seem right. When you cry, people should hear you. The world should stop.”

Every scenario in the trip that went well was something, I supposed, equaled to pain in Cameron’s reality. He was falling further to the bottom the closer he reached the end of the road. It was terrifying, but real. It was both hopeful and hopeless.

In the end, it was all about appreciating the life each person was given. It was about looking back at every turn made and not regretting any of them. Going Bovine is an honest story confronting the lies we tell ourselves. It’s eye-opening and heart-shattering.

This read is highly recommended and everyone should read it!
Profile Image for Madeline.
781 reviews47.2k followers
December 7, 2010
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 known as mad cow disease. The disease will slowly eat away at his brain until he dies. There is no treatment, no cure. So Cameron's in the hospital, trying to deal with the fact that he's going to die very soon, when he is visited by a punk-rock, pink-haired angel who tells him that he's been given a mission. Cameron has to find a Dr. X, who accidentally opened a wormhole and released dark energy into the world. If Cameron can find Dr. X in time, he'll be cured.

And thus begins the most awesome road trip ever, in which Cameron breaks out of the hospital, assisted by a hypochondriac dwarf named Gonzo, and tries to find Dr. X while also fighting off fire giants and a dark wizard. There's banter, pop-culture references, lots of quotes from a made-up movie that's certainly not Star Wars, drag queens, drinking, cults, music, parallel universes, sex, and a lawn gnome that's actually the Norse god Balder. It's all amazing and scary and dramatic and, because this is Libba Bray we're talking about, fucking hilarious. It's intense, too - without giving away the ending, I'll just say that it's one of those endings where I finished the book and had to go sit somewhere quiet for a few minutes, and do nothing except think about the story. There's a twist ending, but I guessed it so easily and so quickly that I almost suspect it's not supposed to be that big of a surprise. I think the point isn't that we're not supposed to guess the twist; I think the point is that we guess it, but still spend the entire story hoping that we're wrong. (sorry I can't get into any more detail without spoiling the ending - read it the book, and then we'll talk about it.)

"Maybe there's a heaven, like they say, a place where everything we've ever done is noted and recorded, weighed on the big karma scales. Maybe not. Maybe this whole thing is just a giant experiment run by aliens who find our human hijinks amusing. Or maybe we're an abandoned project started by a deity who checked out a long time ago, but we're still hard-wired to believe, to try to make meaning out of the seemingly random. Maybe we're all part of the same unconscious stew, dreaming the same dream, hoping the same hopes, needing the same connection, trying to find it, missing, trying again - each of us playing our parts in the others' plotlines, just one big ball of human yarn tangled up together. Maybe this is it."
Profile Image for Morgan F.
512 reviews470 followers
December 2, 2010
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 chance that Cameron has to save his life is to undertake a mission to save the world. His companions include a punk-rock pink-haired angel, a video game obsessed dwarf with an overprotective mother, and, my personal favorite, a Nordic god in the form of a lawn gnome. It's gonna be a hell of a ride.

I loved this book. It was funny and fantastic. Cameron was typically frustrating teenage guy who needed an attitude check. I have to give it up for Libba Bray. If she's as random in real life as she was in this book, she must be a blast to be around. I found it hard to believe that this is the same author as A Great and Terrible Beauty as the two books are in no way similar.

The journey was just spectacular and I loved it all the way. I think the length of the book was perfect. Not too long as to be endless, but long enough to bring closure. Jolly good.

But, of course, the real reason I loved this book was Balder. I love that little guy. He is so frickin BA. Seriously. Every time he showed up on a page, I gave an inner happy squeal.

But, given my four-star rating, this book wasn't completely perfect, and in order to explain the reason(s) why, I'll have to reveal parts of the ending. So, unless you want to spoil the book for yourself, look away.

As a consolation, here is a picture of Balder after a long night of partying.
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That's my boy.

Okay, now. Seriously. Look away.

Reasons why I didn't give this book five stars.
1. The predictability of the ending. Was Bray going for the obvious, or do I just watch too much TV? I knew the ending almost completely. I even got some of the quotes right. I was telling people about the "its-all-a-dream-thing" before I even opened the book.
2. Cam and Dulcie. I'm sorry. That just seemed all a bit rushed. All of the sudden it was all about Dulcie. I just wasn't feeling it.
3. SHE FUCKIN KILLS BALDER QWI43VCa32434Q35WZqz45WES,B45W45XBV!!!!!!!!! What is this!!! How she can do that!! I am VERY UPSET!!!!! DFUDFNNCUJDS#*%vgnb*^%rBBV55B!!!!
Its bad enough he wasn't introduced until the second half of the novel but then she go and kills him? NOT COOL. Viking funeral be damned.

And I totally called it about Gonzo, btw.
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,095 reviews17.7k followers
May 27, 2017
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 moral themes, but they're buried under humor that made me cringe far more than laugh. Great concept, poor execution.

I was surprised by my reaction to this because I really loved Beauty Queens. I don't know why that worked and this didn't. I suppose it's partially that while Beauty Queens is set up as an exaggerated fantasy world, Going Bovine is set in our world. It changes your expectations. This one is so weird it's not funny. I have so many questions about what's happening in Libba Bray's brain.

Before you pick this up, I would recommend reading the first few chapters. If you laugh, buy it. If you don't laugh, don't buy it, because you will not like the rest of the story. If anything, I thought the first few chapters were somewhat funnier than the rest.
Profile Image for Lauren Stoolfire.
3,723 reviews261 followers
March 5, 2019
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.
Profile Image for kari.
849 reviews
April 19, 2010
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 universes as he goes on a journey of self discovery. He learns about love, sex, friendship and what it means to really live.
Cameron's wonderfully sarcastic voice is funny and honest. This book made me laugh and cry, occasionally at the same time.

This is one not to miss. Superior storytelling.
Profile Image for Rad.
680 reviews24 followers
October 8, 2009
I really thought that I would love this book. It sounded like it was going to be funny, and sweet, and warm, and all kinds of great. But I think this is a rare case of just Too Much Shit. I could only get to page 120-something before I started skimming to the end, which was, well, not to my liking. It seems like the ending kind of negates all the crazy stuff that happens in the book. All of it! What's the point, then, of having all the crazy in there?

I don't know. Too much, too soon, and for me, it got old real quick.

AND THE TERM 'RENTS IS USED. That is my least favorite slang word of all time.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Angela.
675 reviews1,395 followers
January 25, 2016
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.
Profile Image for ~Tina~.
1,092 reviews159 followers
February 17, 2010
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 amazing!

The characters are sarcastically-crazy-fun and extremely colorful! The writing is truly Exceptional, and the plot is so bizarre you don't want it to ever end!
Going Bovine is hilarious, sweet, sad, unique and simply brilliant!

Anything I say isn't going to do this book justice, so I'm just going to say that if you want to experience a book that is out of the world, then Going Bovine is a absolute must read!

Profile Image for Shannon.
3,096 reviews2,382 followers
November 22, 2009
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 and acting out but after numerous test they find out he has Mad Cow disease, which is fatal.

Cameron is visited by a strange girl named Dulcie and is told he has to go on a quest to save the world. He leaves the hospital and takes another patient and high school student, Gonzo, with him. They then embark on a crazy road trip in order to save the world.

It's hard to really divulge any more of the plot without revealing many of the surprising twists and turns that the story takes. I think some people might find it odd that it's pretty easy to understand what's really going on early in the story. I don't think the secret was supposed to be kept from the reader, otherwise it would have been hidden better. Honestly, it just made the story all the more poignant knowing what was actually going on.

I really enjoyed this book, especially Balder! I'm curious now to see how Bray's other books compare, even though they're in a completely different genre. I'm definitely going to have to keep an eye out for any books she writes in the future as well.
Profile Image for Melissa.
Author 10 books4,397 followers
May 8, 2018
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 not totally sure what the hell was going on, but in a way where I could tell the author, at least, had everything under control. I hope Bray writes another insane standalone soon.
Profile Image for Jackie "the Librarian".
882 reviews270 followers
April 5, 2010
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 slacker kid in high school with a sarcastic sense of humor. His parents are having problems, his sister thinks he's a loser, life isn't great, but that's high school, right?

Then, he starts having hallucinations of fire giants, and passing out in class. He's got mad cow disease, who knows from where, and there's no cure.

Unless... he can find Dr. X and save the universe from being sucked into a black hole! Dulcie, a punker angel, sends him on a quest, along with Gonzo, a hypochondriac dwarf.

Now, you realize pretty early on that this quest is all in Cam's mind. And he's a teenage boy, so the stuff he comes up with is half superhero battles, half random stuff from his life. And sex. Of course there's sex, he's a teenage boy.

He fights off a dark wizard in a jazz playing contest, he gets sucked into a cult for awhile that touts frozen vanilla yogurt, bowling, and not thinking about anything stressful as the key to happiness (hmm, I should try that), and he joins a group of drunken frat boys on their way to Florida to be on an MTV like show. And he comes across a lawn gnome named Balder who's a cursed Viking warrior the size of a Cabbage Patch Doll. Who's indestructible and irreverent, and who needs to get to the shore to break his curse. Ha, okay...

And Cam has sex. And makes love, and yes, there's a difference. And he lives life to the fullest, and loves to the fullest. Except, it's all in his head. Or, IS it?

The point of it all is, even when we are dying, and we are ALL dying, we should be living, too. Living in as much time as we've got, and loving while we do it.

To live is to love, and to love is to live.
It's an overpacked book, it's got a liberal bias, and the language and sex make it not for younger teens, or easily offended adults.
Like I said, great book.
Profile Image for book_nymph_bex.
271 reviews20 followers
January 14, 2010
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 WEEKS! I wanted to give up so many times, but I made myself finish. First because I thought it would get better. It's had a lot of star reviews and been on a lot of Top Ten 2009 Lists. I never caught on to the wonderfulness of it. It was boring. About half way through the driving force for finishing was just so that it was finished. I'd already invested in 300 pages, I couldn't give up! I kept thinking, "Harry Potter was great for proving that kids will read long books, but just because you can write 500 page novels doesn't mean you should!!!"

I think part of the reason I didn't like it was because I went in with an expectation that wasn't met and that colored the way I read the book. I thought Cameron would be an unreliable narrator in the sense that he would go on an adventure and because he had mad-cow disease the reader wouldn't know what was real and what was fake. But from the get-go it's pretty apparent that everything post-mad cow takes place in his head while he's in a coma in the hospital. And I thought that was sad. I wanted him to have a real adventure.

Overall, it wouldn't make my Top 100 List of 2009
Profile Image for Melissa.
12 reviews37 followers
June 28, 2011
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, poorly executed. After about halfway through or so I just wanted it to be over. Bray just kept finding new ways to keep dragging the book on and on and on forever.

Now, I am giving this book 2.5 (I rounded it down) stars instead of the oh so dreaded 1 star because I enjoyed the first chapter, it had a few funny lines and Bray did bring up some philosophical points that enabled me to see where she wanted to take the book. I had potential to be something great, but when writing a book like this one must tread carefully so as to not pass the line between charming quirky and annoying quirky.
Profile Image for Kim.
286 reviews791 followers
October 5, 2011

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 and snow globe salesmen. Oh and a protagonist with Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (that’s mad-cow disease for us non neurosurgeons)

Cameron Smith’s best memory is almost dying at Disney World when he was five. At sixteen he’s a typical self centered, under motivated teenage boy skimming cliff notes of Don Quixote and seeing holes open in the sky and "leaves of fire grow and change, like something’s inside waiting to be born. The one closest to me evolves as quickly as one of those time lapse photography experiments in science: the small, hunched over form unfolds, spreads out, takes on mass, intention. It stands, huge, burning man with eyes black as the hole opening above us. …there’s three, four, now five of them; they burn so brightly, flames licking off their bodies like blue-orange sweat. They sweep their arms out this way and that, and where they pass, the land curls up in blackness. This makes them laugh, which is a horrible sound—like the screams of people burning to death.”


But, it’s all good. We soon learn that it’s not really an invasion… not that sort anyway… just these infectious prion proteins that are attacking Cameron’s brain. Boom. Instant death sentence.

What’s a boy to do? How about stage a break out with his classmate and hospital roomie Gonzo, the aforementioned hypochondriac dwarf. Why? Because a pink haired, combat boot-wearing angel named Dulcie told him so. He is given a mission. He has to save the world from the fire giants and find the scientist who can save him. Easy peasy.

Cameron and Gonzo meet many eccentric folk in their travels. They visit Mardi Gras and jam with a jazz legend, they hang out at CESSNAB where they learn to increase their happiness by bowling perfect games and drinking smoothies.. They free a Norse God who has been cursed into the form of a yard gnome and taken by frats to pose with at national landmarks. They discover that time travel is possible, but involves the music of an Inuit jam band that went MIC (missing in concert) twenty years ago. They visit spring break-Florida style- where Cam loses his virginity to his high school crush. and Gonzo finds a boyfriend .

I really haven’t done this journey justice. It’s crazed and incredible. Life affirming and heartbreaking. Cameron has purpose, he falls in love, he saves the world and he confronts his own mortality. Who could ask for more of this life?

“Mom and Dad each take one of my hands. Jenna sits beside me. Everything slows. The room gets darker, and I feel like I’m being pulled toward something I can’t see. Things streak past me. Stars. Gases. Satellites. Whole planets wobble and careen away. Universes, too. It makes me feel vast and impossibly small at the same time. Connected.”

"[W]e now enjoy...not only the delight of his own absolutely veracious tale but also all those other stories and narrative digressions which, to some extent, are no less delightful and skillfully told, and every bit as true, as his own history." Cervantes ain’t no fool. I won’t soon be forgetting Cameron or his quest.

Profile Image for Stephanie.
352 reviews9 followers
June 13, 2011
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 really liked the dialogue and the writing style, I will look for other books by Bray. Her "Beauty Queens" looks like it might be very fun!
Profile Image for Kristy.
592 reviews88 followers
February 2, 2011
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 control. That all turns around real quick like when he is diagnosed with Mad Cow Disease... he becomes popular over-night and people start to really "care" about the kid who has hallucinations and is going to croak at any minute. He is placed into the hospital for testing and to just rest... there (in his dreams) he meets Dulcie, the pink-haired, fishnet wearing Angel. He thinks he has gone Nuts. But she convinces him that Dr. X has the cure to his disease and the only way to stop the world from ending is to find him to seal up the portal to an alternate universe.... You still with me??
Yeah, this is where I rolled my eyes and sighed, thinking "I know where this is going........."
But, she convinces him to go on this quest and that he must take Gonzo (from his school), for this quest would offer Gonzo something un-nameable at its end. We hop on the bus and then finally in the car with these guys on their adventure meeting all sorts of memorable characters along the way. My favorite being Balder, the talking garden gnome. Are you interested yet???

#1 reason to read this book: the characters. There are some very humorous people you meet along the way.

It was funny and an exciting ride. I really enjoyed this one, but at the same time I just wanted to be finished with it. It was too lengthy to me, I think the story could have been told with a little less words. Then again I thought that about "A Great and Terrible Beauty". Maybe Libba Bray is just one of those authors. I don't hate it, but I'm not jumping up and down, giddy about any of her books either.....
I know a lot of you liked this and I can honestly say that I did to. I would recommend this one. I would love to see this in movie form.... hint, hint, wink, wink.

Sidenote: Thanks Tina for picking this one. It's one I had planned on reading for sometime, but something about the cover kept turning me off. Had you not have "forced"(not really) me to read it, I might never have.... and that would have been a shame. I don't regret reading it, not one little bit. Street Corner Bookers, the To-Be-Read Challenge is such a fabulous idea... if I wasn't sold from the start, I surely am now. I'm excited to do this again! Love to the SCB's!!!!

Additional sidenote: I think I'm going to start using the 'word' shithenge!!! It makes me laugh everytime ;)
Profile Image for Cyrus.
1 review
November 28, 2011
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 occaisional viking gnome.

Take all that and multiply it by an infinite amount of quality; quality that could outshine the cosmos and the small world in which we so live.

A refreshing depature for Bray, who commonly writes on matters most femme Victorian. It is a novel that will stay with you forever, guarenteed. The plot that surrounds Cameron Smith, Dulcie and Gonzo is one that many people would require years, if not decades to perfect because of it's intricacy and sheer ecclecticism. Rarely does a story come along that is so refreshing, so beautiful. If you ever need to take a story with you to college just to read over and over again, take this along with a bit of Twain, Ballard, Bradbury and Satrapi. You will never be alone.
Profile Image for Addie Bowlin.
129 reviews145 followers
March 31, 2010
I had to create an entirely new shelf for this one, called ABANDONED.

I tried. I TRIED. I only made it to page 282 before I closed the book without a bookmark, and I am not the kind of person to give up on a book. I will muscle my way through even the most laboriously written or detailed novel because I hate to leave books unfinished, but this one I couldn't stand to keep reading any longer. I would actually squirm at the idea of picking it back up, and because I very rarely like to read more than one book at a time, I lost almost an entire month of reading time trying to get through Going Bovine.

It wasn't the writing. It wasn't the humor. It wasn't the main character or the teenage vernacular or video game references or philosophy/physics theorizing, because that shit is my life, yo. I was even really digging it at the beginning, with the Disneyland almost-drowning and the disconnection between Cameron and his twin sister, Jenna. His social stature, frequent trips to that indie record store, bickering with the beautiful kids... this book had all the right ingredients for me, but the way they were mixed produced something very unsavory and worse: something predictable.

It's not hard to guess that the entire thing is all in his head, and it didn't take me long. Hello! Hallucinations are almost the very first symptom Bray explains to the reader about mad cow disease. I avoided spoilers and I knew immediately, and it pissed me the fuck off. What a fucking gyp! I absolutely despise the It Was All A Dream ending because I feel it is such an enormous, unimaginative cop out. Unless there is a really fucking important reason or epic character growth and lessons learned, I feel the author is a huge pussy.

Every word out of fucking Gonzo's mama's boy mouth was annoying. We get it, okay? You're a hypochondriac and you want to go home. And after the introduction of Balder the Norse God yard gnome and the destruction of the Konstant Kettle by fire giants, I was out. Stick a fork in me.

Granted, I may be judging harshly because of my current life stress levels, but so intense was my letdown that I feel entitled to a little anger and language.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Lars Guthrie.
546 reviews169 followers
December 4, 2010
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 have warned me about what to expect.

The tilting-at-windmills quality of someone on his deathbed accepting an impossible mission should clue the reader into Bray’s nod to Cervantes, but in case the reader doesn't get it, the author lets you know that she does, more than a few times. She also leaves you in no doubt about how she feels about the crass, shallow, humorless, merciless, materialistic culture of consumerism in which she is marketing 'Going Bovine.'

Bray is so consumed with setting ‘em up and knocking ‘em down that her protagonist, Cameron, who might be kind of sweet if he just poked his head out of the cloud of pot smoke that continually surrounds him, hardly seems to matter. He’s just a vehicle who can enter places like CESSNAB (Church of Everlasting Satisfaction and Snack-’N’-Bowl), so that Bray can rip into the sleazy superficiality of it all. Balder, the Nordic yard decoration, has more personality, and integrity.

It’s Vonnegut on steroids, and Bray leaps into the fray with such gusto that she pulled me along for the ride, even as I tried to dig in my heels and slow things down enough to jump off. Sheer outrageousness is worth something. Libba Bray milks every last drop. She’s determined to be the most unwimpy YA writer on the block. I’d have to say she’s pretty successful.

Recommended for seventh graders on up, if you feel comfortable with substance abuse, iterations of the F-word, a graphic description of crummy copulation, and a coy recounting of celestial sex.
Profile Image for Arlene.
1,164 reviews639 followers
October 11, 2009
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 pen a novel in a different voice.

Cameron Smith is a sixteen year old guy who simply wants to get through life with minimum effort coupled with zero expectations. All that changes when he’s given the news that he’s dying from Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease, a human form of mad cow. From that moment, he knows he wants to live more than anything. He ends up meeting a winged, loopy punk angel with a bad sugar habit, a death-obsessed, video-gaming dwarf and a yard gnome and they go on an adventure to both find a cure for Cam and save the world.

This is truly an exceptional book, as the main character was carefully developed and the storyline kept me wondering the whole time if I was reading about Cam’s hallucinations or the book took a turn into the fantasy realm. It’s funny, sarcastic, sad and emotionally driven. When I was getting to the end, I didn't want to finish because I had a feeling it would end sadly. This one will stay on my mind for some time as it pushed the boundaries of both fantasy and fiction. I truly enjoyed this book.
Profile Image for Spider the Doof Warrior.
433 reviews238 followers
November 17, 2014
I love this book. It's so enjoyable. The only thing that bugs me is if this was all in Cameron's head as a dying dream, then it would mean Gonzo did not get to experience all the stuff he did. Like meeting a nice dude. I think he deserved that.

I also wonder why people don't say all the mushy lovey dovey stuff people need to hear while they're alive. Such as, kid, you're not getting the best grades in the world, but I love you and you're my entire world. Cameron was a bit selfish, but he was a teenager and sometimes they can be like that when they're teens.

The book did have good messages about living. Really living. I feel like I do in my introverted quiet way. I get flappy happy over Dir en grey and I've gone to some awesome concerts and such. Music is so AWESOME! The best thing ever. Magical. It can bind people together!

So yeah, read this enjoyable book.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
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