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Going Bovine
Going Bovine
Author: Libba Bray
Can Cameron find what he’s looking for? — 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 wi...  more »
ISBN-13: 9780385733984
ISBN-10: 0385733984
Publication Date: 10/12/2010
Pages: 512
Reading Level: Young Adult
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.

3.7 stars, based on 18 ratings
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio CD
Members Wishing: 2
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reviewed Going Bovine on + 2503 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I loved the Gemma Doyle trilogy by Bray and was excited to hear that she was writing a new book. This book is completely different from the Gemma Doyle story; it is more of a wacky and darkly humorous coming of age tale of a boy named Cameron. I liked the book, it was very entertaining although I found the last quarter of the book to be somewhat ambiguous and difficult to follow.

Cameron is kind of a loser. He doesn't care much about anything. Then he is diagnosed with mad cow's disease and finds out that he is going to die. That is until a punk angel named Dulcie shows up in his hospital room and tells him that he is actually infected by dark matter. Dulcie tells him that if he can find Dr. X (the mad scientist that traveled through different realities and brought dark matter back to earth) then Dr. X can cure Cameron and Cameron can save the world from absolute destruction. So Cameron along with Gonzo, the midget, and Balder, the yard gnome, take off on a quest to save the world (and Cameron) from absolute destruction.

The plot of this book is quick moving, if a bit meandering, and takes you on a number of wandering and unexpected paths. The story is chock-full of delightfully bizarre characters and interesting personalities. Much of this book reminded me of Daniel Pinkwater's "The Neddiad"; it has similar bizarre characters, teaches a coming-of-age lesson, follows a strange path, and has the whole save the world from absolute destruction theme to it. This book is darkly humorous and deals with a number of issues that many teens face.

Much of the story is about Cameron learning how to live and take an interest in life. Although as the story continues things get vague. Cameron has periodic flashbacks or episodes where he is being treated in the hospital; although the reader is lead to think these are dreams. As the story progresses it is difficult to tell if his adventure are reality or him being in the hospital is reality. The end confused the heck out of me and I had no idea whether Cameron was alive or dead and which reality he had ended up in. So, those who like a clear-cut story should look else where. I do understand that to some extent this story was about alternate realities, so some confusion generally comes a long with that.

While I don't mind some vagueness in my books and content that makes the reader wonder and think; I do think that the end portion of the book could have been a bit clearer about what was happening. The end is almost dreamlike and left me feeling unsatisfied as a reader. Also there is a lot of drug use, sex, and swearing in this book; so I would recommend it for the older young adult set rather than the younger set.

In summary this was an entertaining read. With wonderfully bizarre characters, a surprisingly engaging plot, it was great fun. The only part I didn't enjoy was the ambiguity of the ending. I will definitely keep reading Bray's future works. I think the drastic change of genre for this book was a great decision on her part and really shows the breadth of her writing talent.
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reviewed Going Bovine on + 7145 more book reviews
Reviewed by Sarah Bean the Green Bean Teen Queen for

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.