Inspiration From The Distant Past

Inspiration From The Distant Past
Found note in an old book... warms the cockles of my bookish heart...

Monday, March 29, 2010

Going Bovine

Whoa... Duuuude... this book is a trip! And I don't just mean the cover. Cameron, a seventeen year old pot smoking apathetic underachiever, is diagnosed with mad cow disease. Seeking a cure, he embarks on a wacky journey across America guided by a punk angel only he can see and accompanied by Gonzo, a hypochondriac gamer dwarf, and a talking yard gnome who might be the Viking god Balder. Is the trip real or a hallucination?

Right about now, I am guessing that a third of you are intrigued and a third of you are repelled. For the third of you sitting on the fence, this book is reminiscent of the movie Bubble Boy (love that movie). Cameron is not sweet and endearing (at least in the beginning) like Bubble Boy but the quirky characters he meets and his perpetual seemingly random absurd adventures are very much like Bubble Boy. He even encounters a happiness cult named Church of Everlasting Satisfaction And Snack-'N'-Bowl. So if you like the movie Bubble Boy this book may be for you.

If you still aren't sure if this is your kind of tale, here are a few of the amusing chapter titles:

  • Wherein the Cruelties of High School Are Recounted, and the Stoner Dudes of the Fourth-Floor Bathroom Offer Me Subpar Weed and a Physics Lesson
  • Which Treats of the Particulars of High School Hallway Etiquette and the Fact that Staci Johnson is Evil; Also, Unfairly Hot
  • Which Treats of Our Daring Escape from St. Jude's and Our Talk with a Stinky Dude in a Tinfoil Hat
  • In Which We Make a Stop in New Orleans and Gonzo Refuses to Eat Fish, Annoying the Crap out of Me and Our Waitress
  • In Which I Learn That Two Very Small People Can Add Up to a Major Pain in the Ass and We Nearly Bite It at the Konstant Kettle

Anyone still with me? This book is about living, dying, parallel universes and the randomly connected but important little things. It is at turns dark, bizarre, wry and comedic. The quips traded between Gonzo and Balder are a hoot.

Libba Bray did an believable job writing in the voice of a seventeen year old boy. A couple of times at near the beginning, I thought: oops, that sounds like something a forty year old woman would say to be funny. But maybe only a forty year old woman (which I am) would notice.

Even though this book can be bewildering at times and has a happy/sad ending, I liked it. Cameron starts out as a boy with no zest for living; he believes everything in life is a big fake. Over the course of his very trippy trip, Cameron learns to appreciate and love family and friends and even find beauty in art and nature.

Some of the YA bloggers rate sex, language and violence levels in the books they review. I found this book tame in all those regards but so no one is inadvertently offended, this book contains a few f-bombs, drug use and mild sexuality. If you require more particulars, feel free to email me.

If you are looking for another gothic fantasy like Libba Bray's A Great and Terrible Beauty, this isn't it. If you are in the mood for a wild and crazy thought provoking ride, this one may be for you.

Have you already read Going Bovine? Did you love it or hate it? Undecided? What did you think of the ending? If you read it in the future, come back and share. And don't forget to read Libba Bray's funny four page acknowledgments. Love her sense of humor.


  1. On my TBR! Thanks for the review.

  2. I only briefly looked at this post as I also own this one but havent read it yet, thanks for the review.

  3. Jeanne, Chris & Jess--- I'd love to hear what all of you think of Bovine after you read it. I actually reread the last 2 chapters in the library parking lot before returning it. It is one of those kind of books-- I really feel the need to discuss the ending but I didn't want to spoil it for anyone.


  4. I like your review :D Here's mine if you don't mind:

    Thanks and have a nice day!


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