Book Review: Going Bovine by Libba Bray

Going Bovine by Libba Bray
2010 Michael L. Printz Award Winner

“Cameron,” she asked, pulling me onto her lap for a vigorous towel-drying. “Why did you jump into the water, honey? Did the ride scare you?”
I didn’t know how to answer her, so I just nodded. All the adrenaline I’d felt earlier seemed to pool in my limbs, weighing me down.
“Oh, honey, you know it’s not real, don’t you? It’s just a ride.”
“Just a ride,” I repeated, and felt it sink in deep.
Th thing is, before they pulled me out, everything had seemed made of magic. Like I really believed in this crazy dream. But the minute I came to on the hard, glittery, spray-painted, fake snow and saw that marionette boy pulling the same plastic fish out of the hole again and again, I realized it was all a big fake. The realest thing I’d ever experienced was that moment under the water when I almost died.
And in a way, I’ve been dying ever since.
Read an excerpt

Sixteen-year-old Cameron has just been diagnosed with Mad Cow Disease, giving him only a couple of hallucination-filled weeks to live. With his last couple weeks, he goes on a search for Doctor X–the man with the cure–with the aid of a stoner dwarf, a pink-haired angel, and a garden gnome who thinks he’s a Norse god.

On a normal day, I would not pick this book up off the shelf to read it. It just doesn’t sound like my type. But it’s the Printz winner, so I felt obligated to read it and get in on the discussion.

I’m still not quite sure what I think. I think I’ve decided to like it. Though I also read Cherylynne’s review and can totally agree with what she said about it. So I still just don’t know.

The book is long. Way long. I might be more sure in the “I like it” department if it were shorter. But 480 pages of stuff that is one big, weird hallucination can be a lot.

The language did bother me (f-bombs everywhere), as did the sexual content.

But I laughed. I loved the chapter headings–they cracked me up. And the Norse god/garden gnome was funny. There was one scene with him that I laughed out loud and had to tell my husband about it. There were actually a lot of one-liners that made me giggle.

And, really, I think what made me like it is that Bray was just good at writing hallucination. The random little details that were constant throughout did seem like a hallucination-type thing. I mean, I wouldn’t know, right…I’ve never hallucinated. I just thought the writing was super.

All in all, I’m not sure what I can say about this book. As you can see, I’ve not been very articulate in this post. I think it’s one that you have to try on for yourself to decide whether it’s good or not. And read more than the little excerpt online. Read, say, three or four chapters. (I read the first few pages and thought it was dumb, but had to go a little further to really appreciate it.)

It’s interesting. . . .that’s all I can really say.

*news about going bovine*

Libba Bray’s website is pretty cool, I must admit. And after reading this book, I’m not surprised that Catcher in the Rye is one of her favorite books. She’s also on LiveJournal and Twitter and Facebook.


About Karen Krueger

I write for teens when I'm not chasing after two cute kids. I love to sing and eat cereal (though not at the same time), and I most certainly am not a vampire because I'm addicted to sunshine.
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One Response to Book Review: Going Bovine by Libba Bray

  1. Cherylynne says:

    I know exactly how you feel. It actually took me a long time and a number of re-readings of particular parts to decide how I felt about it. It’s a WEIRD book. I assume that it’s the unusualness (is that a word? If so, is that how you spell it?) that made it so appealing to the Printz committee. I can definitely see how it might stand out among thousands of books. I just decided, ultimately, that the way it stood out for me was not in a good way. Of course, at the time I was still mad that “The Chosen One” didn’t win…so maybe I was a little biased?

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