Liz's Reviews > Going Bovine

Going Bovine by Libba Bray
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's review
Oct 03, 2009

it was ok
bookshelves: 2010, ya, never-again

Spoilers and massive rant with slight concessions ahoy. It was... entertaining, I'll give it that.

But these comparisons to Douglas Adams are just not right. For example, in its satire, this book is so obvious and not funny. The happiness cults and Iphigenia are rife with plot holes (due to their random nature), such as how they got their cult up and running in the first place... which I suppose would be okay, but they aren't FUNNY! Definitely not in the league of Douglas Adams' B-class spaceship and its eternally bathing captain.

Another complaint: Two girls have sex with Cameron for no reason! Dulcie, who is the one real constant in this thing, has sex with Cameron in the end. Staci Johnston: who the hell knows why? Actually, ditto for Dulcie. Cameron just cheated on her with Staci, and now she's gagging for it too! And let's face it, he isn't exactly the sort of guy girls will be lining up to shag. He's likeable, sure, but not... it. You know? I admit that this whole thing was a dream, and guys dream about sex, but first and foremost this is a story, and Libba Bray is a writer, dammit! She should give a satisfying read! As it is, this reads disturbingly like a girl writing the sort of fantasy a guy would write.

While that makes it realistic, it's also disturbing because Libba Bray is a girl.

The end, for me, was where this all fell apart. I was expecting everything to loop in on itself and be not what it seems and give me this wonderfully mad 'Oh you did not just do that.' moment. And it kinda... well, didn't. It was totally straightforward.

The Copenhagen Interpretation subplot, while funny (love that band. I wish they were real now) was very predictable.

Chet was an obnoxious portrayal of Christianity. Like, he never even got his comeuppance. And there are all these little digs at religion through most of the first half, which was why I took it back to the library at first. I eventually had to get it out again and keep reading because the back copy of the cover intrigued me.

Maybe I'll learn from this.

The save the universe stuff right at the end had no grab factor. No Crowning Moments of Awesome. Partly because we know it's a dream, thus robbing it of all suspense, and partly because there just weren't any.

Okay slightly bigger spoilers. Love?! This is what Gonzo finds for himself? Love? Excuse me, but lame! Why not something inside himself, inner reserves of strength, something that has nothing to do with depending on another person to fulfil yourself! Instead it's a case of Suddenly Sexuality!

The overall message of the book was what really ticked me off. "We make our own reality." Read between the lines here, people! Libba Bray is telling us that it's okay to live inside our own heads, we don't need the outside world! Go curl up and become anti-social! She's saying that we should really 'live' while we've got the time, but she's also telling us that we can do this in our heads.

I appreciate that she's trying to sell this 'who cares', 'life's what you make it', 'fufill your dreams' theme/mood/inspiration but honestly? Going Bovine just wasn't awesome enough to pull it off.

Added to which, Libba Bray goes, 'stuff all organised religion, I have my own thing'. Well, could you show us what that thing is? I'm not buying this, man. If you want to take away our perception of the afterlife, you better have something damn good to replace it with. Instead of which, we get the typical 'river death boat' scene and a light and an angel (duh, Dulcie) and vague hints and concrete 'I don't knows' and 'let's find out's. What part of this is original?

Finally, Dulcie. Dulcie, Dulcie, Dulcie. She was... truly a character who needs her own book instead of being stuck as the auxilary love interest and mysterious wizard by turns, all the while being typecast as the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. She was almost forgettable, but something about her just...wasn't.

And we never get to find out anything about her. Anything!

For me, the entertainment value of this book, while it had many good ideas and some great moments and a wonderful writing style, just couldn't eclipse the major problems I had with the book. And ultimately, despite its quirkiness, it was amazingly forgettable.

I feel so bad for not liking this book, but I really didn't. I also feel so lame for typing out a petulant rant this long on a book I don't even care about. Oh well. You've gotta love the net for being able to get stuff out of your system.

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