blo Teens Read and Write: Going Bovine

Monday, March 1, 2010

Going Bovine

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Going Bovine
by Libba Bray
pub: Sept 2009
480 Pages

All sixteen-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 g
o in search of it.

th the help of Gonzo, a death-obsessed, video-gaming dwarf, and a yard gnome who just might be the Viking god Balder, Cam sets off on t
he mother of all road trips through a twisted America of smoothie-drinking happiness cults, parallel-universe-hopping physicists, mythic New Orleans jazz musicians, whacked-out television game shows, snow-globe vigilantes, and disenfranchised, fame-hungry teens into the heart of what matters most.

The story beings with Cameron living in a small Texas town and hating it. The highlight of his day is smoking weed with his acquaintances in the fourth floor bathroom.

He "lives" with his dysfunctional family(not the quirky Michel Cera k
ind of dysfunctional the, "We never see each other and don't really care whats going on with you unless it affects me somehow." kind of dysfunctional) whom are extremely out of touch and have grown far apart.

To be honest, I was ready to give up on this book in the first couple of chapters. The writing is excellent but almost too good because Cameron's life is miserable and I was so empathetic and connected to him that I was just as miserable.

He has no real friends and only talks to h
is dad to ask to borrow the car. He's a loser even among the losers with no goals in life. But when he's struck with Mad Cow disease he's whisked away on an adventure of a lifetime. How sad is it when a fatal disease becomes the highlight of your life?

Going Bovine is from a first person perspective and we are with Cameron as his brain turns to mush from mad cow disease. In the beginning almost everything makes sense and besides a few confusing bits is a great adventure. As the story progresses things start getting stranger and making less and less sense - just as I would hope it would since his brain is deteriorating.

As the disease eats away at his grey matter, Cameron's perception of the world goes more and more askew.
To help you visualize the storyline I've made this pie chart breaking it down into it's main components.

Chart also applies to movies directed by M. Night Shyamalan

Then there is the biggest question of all: Is this all really happening or is it just the disease making him crazy? Is there really a space time anomaly slowly reaching it's crescendo of destruction or is he dying in a hospital bed? I'm inclined to lean heavily toward choice number one.

In some ways, Going Bovine reminded me of Catcher in the Rye or A Clockwork Orange, and while I can appreciate the good writing in those books, can't say I loved them. Going Bovine, on the other hand, I thoroughly enjoyed.

In the last 3 or 4 chapters everything is just a blur, which isn't a bad thing. The disease is eating away at Cameron's brain and his world becomes nuts, with the reader going along for the ride.

Everything felt like it was rushing by so fast that I couldn't really understand what was going on, but in those blurring moments all of those crazy puzzle pieces of plot points that didn't make sense throughout the book fell into place. I
think all that knowledge being dropped Ba-Bam! is what made it all crazy, which made me feel like I was experiencing the madhouse right along side Cameron.

Ms. Bray is brilliant when it comes to her
characters. They are original and memorable as well as quirky, odd, hysterical and loony. But I loved them all. Going Bovine is so entertaining I was blown away with how much I enjoyed it.

The writing is clever, the pace fast and I was turning pages well into the night wondering what weird and wacky adventure was going to happen next. There were times when I had to track down Alyssa, Gregory and/or my mom so I could read aloud. Some parts were so fabulous I had to share!

Going Bovine is funny, sad, and exciting
. The ending was rich and full of hope. For anyone who likes a great adventure with crazy surprises and characters and themes that will keep you thinking about it for a long time, Going Bovine is a must read!

The Cover: Cow holding a Garden Gnome. What more could you want?

The First Line: "The best day of my life happened when I was 5 and almost died at Disney World."
I remember when I was 5 at Disneyland and all of those horrible giant versions of my favorite characters where all plotting to kill me! Very good first line, a real attention grabber.

Going Bovine and many other great books are available in our MegaBook Giveaway. Be sure to ENTER!


ninefly said...

I didn't know what to make of this book since it seems to sit between super!crack and tragicomedy
your review really brought the important points to focus though, and now I'm less reserved in trying this out, thanks! =)

Audrey (holes In My brain) said...

first, loved the pie chart.
and ive been wanting to read this but just haven't got myself to do so. i dunno, why does percy jackson seem more exciting all of a sudden? oh well, i enjoyed libba bray's gemma doyle trilogy and this book won the pritnz so it really is a must-read =o

Shy said...

I've been dying to read this book for quite sometime now and the review makes me crave even more. I like having male as the main character so without any doubt, I'd love this book. The combination of humour and tragic, while somewhat rare, must have been an attractant to this book. Looking forward to read it myself one day =)

brizmus said...

oohman, I love that first line! And mad cow disease - what a crazy thing to decide to write about! Maybe it will help people to stop eating cows.
Great review! I think I'm going to love this!

Aleksandra said...

Thanks for the great review :)
This goes on my must-read list!

babygirlG said...

I'm midway through the book right now and I'm loving every minute of it. It's not the kind of book I would usually read but it's got such a great voice and an excellent cast of characters that I just had to keep going.

EVA SB said...

I think this book is my must read of 2010.

I love quirky storylines filled with strong characters.

Thanks for bringing this one to my attention

Shweta said...

Quirkier the better ! I think I am already half in love with this book because of all the awesome reviews. Now I am just waiting to read it.

Rebecca said...

Awesome stuff. I'm reading Going Bovine at the moment and it's a bit quirky, very cool though.

Trollololol said...

I love the pie chart! Im now going to look up movies directed by M. Night Shyamalan. :)
Great review, I really want to read this.

Blodeuedd said...

Lol, this book sound so weird and that is sure one interesting opening line

Tasha said...

Sounds like a great book! I've read some of Libba Bray's other stuff so will definitely be adding it to my TBR list.

Love the pie chart as well! :D

Anonymous said...

Great review! This book sounds so crazy that I'd probably love it, and the cover is slightly amazing.

Anonymous said...

The cover is a little weird, but if it's that good then maybe I'll give it a try.

Hesperus (Haya) said...

I love your comment about the last few chapters. Heh. Nice review but not something I'd read.

Dwayne said...

Adventure stories and those that deal with death are cool. But both combined... I'm not so sure. And the cover...


Anonymous said...

I didnt like this book...BUT I loved the chart and it made me like Bovine just a bit more....:)

Bunny B said...

Haha! Good review! I might pick it up considering your cute pie chart :P

Lisa said...

I've wanted to read this book for ages, and your review is the best by far! Thanks for the insight!

Tina said...

I wasn't really sure about reading this book, but now I think it could be great. Thanks for the review!

Raspberry said...

I must confess I'm still looking for the motivation to read this one... :)

Adriana said...

It also took me a while to get into the book, but once I did I was loving it and enjoying Cameron's weird adventure.

Lola said...

Wow...awesome review! I have been on the fence about this one, but your review makes me want to check it out! Thanks! :)

Lola said...

Wow...awesome review! I have been on the fence about this one, but your review makes me want to check it out! Thanks! :)

Unknown said...

Wow! Awesome review! I have been wanting to read this, and I definitely will now! Your pie chart had me laughing!

The Insouciant Sophisticate said...

Ok I feel super dumb because I've seen this cover a lot and I really want to read it but I never noticed that the cow was carrying a gnome! Good review!

Liz @ Cleverly Inked said...

LMAO Great charts, Fatastic review.

Sapphire said...

Thanks for the review. I saw this book the other day that I was in the book store, but didn't buy it

Sapphire said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Karen said...

I read this as an ARC last summer and I absolutely loved it. It's a weird and wacky road trip novel with an emotional punch!

Tynga said...

I read great reviews of this book, but it just doesn't speak to me, so not planning on reading it.
Thanks for the review =D

Tales of Whimsy said...

What a fun review. I want to read this more than ever now :)

aqtbenz said...

I loved Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle Trilogy, but this book doesn't really capture my interest. I've heard mixed reviews, so I'll probably skip it.
Thanks for the review!

InfinitePlaylist said...

Oh I so want to read this book! I loved Libba's Gemma Doyle trilogy and I read the first pages of this one on Amazon, it was hilarious

Bookish in a Box said...

I love the pie chart!

Great review! You discussed Cameron's possible descent into madness better than any other review I've read.

Misty said...

I'm so undecided as to whether or not to read this book. On the one hand it REALLY intrigues me and sounds so unusual and fascinating. On the other, I'm not a fan of Bray's writing, and unless it's drastically different from the Libba Bray books, I don't want to waste my time on it. Ugh. I dunno.
Great review, though.

pitu said...

sounds like an interesting book (By the way loved the chart)

MannaB said...

For some reason everytime I see this book I think: I don't want to read this. But I had never read the summary....Now that I did I decided I do want to read this book.

Jessica B said...

I recently finished this one. I LOVED your pie chart! It definitely described Going Bovine well. And great review!

Kristi said...

I have this book checked out from the library and haven't read it yet - it is due back in a couple of days and I was just going to return it - now that I have read your review - I really want to read it and I probably won't be able to renew it!

titania86 said...

Great review! Love the chart! And it's so true. :) I really, really liked this book except for the end. I think Baldur is the greatest character.

twipippi said...

I think the cover is weird and it doesn't sound like a book I will read, but good review.

samantha.1020 said...

I've been wanting to read this one since I heard that it won the Printz award. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it!

Kathy Martin said...

Thanks for your review! You helped me decide that, while this book sounds intriguing, it also sounds like too much work for pleasure reading. I was not a fan of Clockwork Orange either.

Patricia said...

This is a fantastic book, I will be reviewing it soon, too. I really enjoyed it, great review!

Ryan said...

I so have to read this one someday.

Elbereth said...

Thanks for the review! Sounds depressing but interesting to suffer through. I think I'll give it a try.

Meghan said...

Haha, I love your pie chart. It's pretty perfect.

Jo said...

Great review! Though I don't think this is really my cup of tea. It sounds a little too crazy for my liking. Thanks for the review anyway, and I'm glad you liked it!

Anonymous said...

Ohh, this sounds like a good one! Great review!

Anonymous said...

I've heard such great things about this book! great review!

Unknown said...

Ah! I need to get a copy of Going Bovine! :D

Michelle Stockard Miller said...

I was wondering what this was about. I was thinking is it about a person who turns into a cow or something else? Now I know! Great review! I definitely want to read this now.

melissa @ 1lbr said...

This is one that I just couldn't get into at all. Totally a wild and unique premise, just NOT for me.

throuthehaze said...

Based on the cover I wouldn't have read this but it actually sounds interesting. I might check it out sometime.

Mariana S said...

It sounds really good, and the cover is very interesting. Great Review :)

YA Book Queen said...

Awesome review Jake! I'm glad you enjoyed GB, it's one of my faves :)

Fantastic pie chart too, it actually does seem to represent the storyline!

elaing8 said...

I've seen this book around a lot.Sounds pretty good.
great review.

Amy said...

HAHA I LOVE YOUR CHART! It made me burst out laughing :) Going Bovine is on my tbr list! There are some pretty awesome stuff on and in it haha I can't wait!

vonze said...

LOL, love the pie chart you made! I've seen this book everywhere, but never really knew what it was about. Thanks for the review!

Ambar said...

jo jooo really sound extreme! I loved the review so congrats!, when I saw the cover a few days ago XD I just smile cause is funny to me but reading a little of story I guess is a deep story so, thanks for the post!

Eleni said...

Great review, I have this one in my TBR pile :)

Sharli said...

It does sound a little too depressing for my taste. I'd seen this book around but until now I didn't know what it was about. The mad cow disease really surprised me.
I see how this probably is a great book but it doesn't seem for me... We'll see though :P

Great review!

Unknown said...

I bought this book and gave it to my friend for Christmas because of the cover. She collect gnomes :) She said it was good but different. I've got to buy myself a copy and read it!

mariska said...

i feel weird, and i'm not sure want to read it. seems a sad book ?

Rheanna said...

I really like Brays other books specificallt the Gemma Doyle Series. Yet I can't bring myself to want to read Going Bovine. I had a draw to her other books but this one I see no spark. Your review interests me a lil more into it but I can't say I'm on the bandwagon just yet!

donnas said...

Very good review. I am still on the fence with this one though.

Dana N. said...

I've heard a lot about this book, and it makes me so curious! I wanna read it now. :P I loved the pie chart! It was awesome. :)

Aina Yasmin said...

The book sounds good but the cover is weird.

Sandra Stiles said...

I've heard both good and bad things about the book. I have it and want to start it next week after I finish two I have for a blog tour. Thanks for a fresh look at it. I look forwarad to reading it.

brandileigh2003 said...

I have this on TBR pile

The Sweet Bonjour said...

Great review ;) x

Anonymous said...

I love the argument and I love the cover^^ I love cows^^

Am i weird? dont you?

Note: I comment since i enter inthe mega Book giveaway sorry! i didnt made the note in each comment. I hope it counts xD


Bani said...

Haha, the cover is so crazy. I've liked this author's other stuff so this is high on my to-read list. This book sounds like it has everything I'm looking for- memorable and unique characters, fast pace, and running the gamut of emotions from funny to sad. Thanks for the review!

Jenny N. said...

I've heard that this book is hilarious and really need to read it one day. I remeber watching the book trailer and laughing so much.

Sara said...

This book sounds...weird! haha. Not sure I could read about all that crazy stuff without going crazy myself! ;)

CeeCee said...

I'm reserved on Going Bovine purely because it sounds like nothing I've ever read before, you make it sound really worth while.
The cover is unusual but again makes me think it is very different.
I do like the first line.


Cats on the Shelf said...

I just don't know what to think about this book. It looks pretty weird. (30)

pepsivanilla said...

LOVE the pie chart! I'm unsure about this book, but it's Libba Bray, so I still really want to read it!

Jessica Love said...

This looks so good! I can't wait to read it.

Sherry said...

haha Love the pie chart! So creative! I still have to read this, i'll get to it eventually! :)

Jennay and Luke the Pup said...

I want this book!!! I love the first definitely is an attention grabber. Especially for a Dland fanatic. And btw...the characters at dland & dworld have a thing for chasing me & my friends. I have to say Captain Hook and Governor Ratcliffe are quite creepy.

Ina said...

o-kay, the cover wouldn't get my attention, but your review makes me reconsider my opinion...

Zombie Girrrl said...

OMZ, I love your pie chart! Though it concerns me a little as Mr Shyamalan is directing Avatar: The Last Air Bender. I loved that show, so I really hope he doesn't screw it up.
Sorry to hear you didn't like Catcher, I love that book.
I think this might be my favorite book cover. It's so off the wall!
Great review! I can't wait to read this!

misskallie2000 said...

This does sound like a funny yet sad book. Your review was great.

misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

Jacob Rice said...

lol that pie chart is really funny, and true! Some of his movies I liked, and others...woo were they some stinkers.

bookaholic said...

I heard that Going Bovine by Libba Bray is a beautiful book...but it is sad too.Your review coincides with what I have heard about the book!The pie-chart that you have made looks nice,bright and colorful!!!

Gaby G said...

OMG! The first line xD haahhaha!

Well...I've read a lot of reviews about this book and I want to read it. Some say, like you, that the first chapters weren't the best, but I still want to try it. This disease is awful, but hey! the chart you made was soo funny ;)

L said...

I just started reading the book (Only a few chapters in) and I agree with you that the characters are awesome and the writing is amazing. I can't wait to finish it!

A Life Bound By Books said...

You guys always have such great reviews! Another book I have here on a shelf to read.

I really enjoyed your thoughts on the characters and story. Thanks again for the info and pie chart on this book. :o)

Brodie said...

Such a great review! I SO cannot wait to read this. I have it coming in the mail and if anything, this review has me seriously itching in anticipation that it comes in the morning!

Miriam said...

I have been wanting this book for a long, long time. The cover, the writing, everything just makes me want to read it! Your review has only strengthened my resolve to read this, and get into the craziness that is this adventure. I love the pie chart by the way XD

Anonymous said...

Here Jake, this is my comment. I loved your pie chart. The visuals sure just SUCKED ME IN. Just like you hoped it would.

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