Reviewed by Sarah Bean the Green Bean Teen Queen for TeensReadToo.com
All Cameron wants to do is graduate high school - and maybe get a date with popular girl, Stacy. When 16-year-old Cameron is diagnosed with Mad Cow Disease, his life takes a crazy turn. A punk rock angel named Dulcie shows up and tells Cameron there's a cure with a mysterious Dr. X - he just has to go and find it. With the help of a dwarf named Gonzo (who has some mother issues) and a yard gnome who just might be a Norse god, Cameron is off on the trip of a lifetime.
So, I actually picked this up several times and was excited to read it, but the premise just sounded strange - and not like my typical read, so I kept putting it off. Then the Printz committee awarded this one with the Printz medal and I knew I had to read it. I actually listened to it on audiobook, which I think worked well with this book.
It's a trippy book - and it's pretty hefty, coming in at almost 500 pages (or twelve audio discs in my case). It's also a book that won't work if you like everything to work out nicely and not be wondering was this a trip or was this real? It's definitely the craziest road trip book I've ever come across!
I have to praise Ms. Bray's writing and I can see why this won the Printz. The writing captivated me. I really believe she writes boy characters better than any other female author. Cameron read just like my teens at the library - he felt real and his voice was spot on. Just for that, this book deserves your attention.
Even though my knowledge of DON QUIXOTE doesn't go much past the Wishbon TV show version (sad, I know), from what I do know of the story, Ms. Bray gives us a modern twist with GOING BOVINE, and it's a perfect nod to the classic. I would love to see this one paired with DON QUIXOTE for a lit circle or book club - it'd make for great discussion.
I didn't find it as laugh-out-loud hilarious as some other reviewers have, but I did find it to have lots of humor and lots of heart, which sometimes is a hard mix to pull off - but again, Ms. Bray does it seamlessly. Cameron's observations about life, love, family, and friendship are all things that teens will relate to, and I think many readers will be nodding along to Cameron's words. There's also some romance and adventure, which is always good.
I think the Printz committee was brave and original for picking this one and I'm impressed with their choice. I'm eager to hear feedback from my teens about this title. I've had one girl read it already and she called it "interesting and different." I don't think it will appeal to all readers, but those that it works for will find a gem of a book.