30 December 2010

Mad Cows

Going Bovine

Libba Bray

5 Stars

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. (quoted from goodreads)

 First Sentence:
 "The best day of my life happened when I was five and almost died at Disney World."

I cannot even describe how much I love this book. It's this crazy, wonderfully loopy, charming, sardonic, deep, unique mess - but it's a good mess, if that makes any sense at all. It is beautiful and touching and hilarious and one of the best books I have read in a long, long time. This is the kind of book I can tell I'm going to reread again and again, not precisely to comfort myself because I know what happens, but to once again immerse myself in the delight and tears and love of it. So, having gushed about it extensively, I should tell you why I love it so much.

1. Cameron. He has such a unique voice - very real and sarcastic. I got him from page one, I understood exactly what he was talking about. Maybe I don't have a dysfunctional family or smoke weed in high school fourth-floor bathrooms or act totally apathetic, but I still get Cam.

2. The other characters - Dulcie, Gonzo, Balder, Cameron's family, Dr. X, even the nurse who takes care of Cameron (Glory) and the hitchhikers that are picked up on the road - I feel like I know each and every one of them, no matter how relatively small their parts are. They all have depth and emotion and their own story.

3. The plot. It is just so wild and wacky without ever seeming too overboard. I mean, think about it. A teen who pretty much hates life is diagnosed with a fatal disease, but after a vision from an angel, he sets out to find a cure for said disease. He takes along with him a dwarf named Gonzo and they're supposed to find someone named Dr. X. Along the way, they discover musicians, overly happy people, a gnome who is really a Viking god, lots of physicists, and much more insanity. But you never doubt it, you just go along for the ride. It's absolute magic.

4. The meaning underneath. You know, some books push people to take in their theme and realize something important about human nature or the fate of the world. For example, The Boy Who Cried Wolf is very clear in its message - don't lie, or horrific things will happen to you. But Going Bovine is so subtle and beautiful that it doesn't push anything on you. But all the same, when you reach the end, you are crying and promising yourself that you will live as fully as possible, that you will never ever forget how precious life is.

5. The hallucinatory nature of it. There were times when I couldn't tell what was real and what wasn't, because reality and hallucinations and were mixed together to the point where it didn't matter which was which. The whole thing is so dreamy and surreal.

Needless to say, I adore this book. Go read it, and you won't be sorry!


  1. I suppose you're extremely grateful to whichever benovelent and gracious angel bestowed this literacy treasure upon you.

  2. Anonymous who commented above: I am extremely grateful to this lovely person :)

  3. I'm so glad I stumbled upon your blog and read your recommendations. I absolutely love this book. It's like what you said, it "doesn't push anything to you" but you just realize that you agree with the message anyway. And I definitely agree with "reality and hallucinations and were mixed together to the point where it didn't matter which was which". There were times when I say to myself, "he didn't left the hospital", and I know that it's true, but their adventures were so real even if they're too crazy to be.
    I really enjoyed it. Thank you for the recommendation. :)

  4. theclockworkangel: I totally agree! Going Bovine is fantastic. You're welcome, glad you stopped by the blog!