Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Going Bovine


Going Bovine Libba Bray

I wasn't expecting to like this one. I wasn't a huge fan of A Great and Terrible Beauty, which is the other Bray I've read. Some people I know loved Going Bovine, and some didn't. Most of the criticisms were things where I thought "ok, that's also stuff that bugs me in a book." So, I figured this one wasn't for me. And then it won the Printz, so I felt obligated to read it.

And! Yay! I was pleasantly surprised. I enjoyed it!

For those who don't know, Cam is an apathetic teen who gets mad cow disease. He embarks on a road trip with his friend Gonzo and a yard gnome who's really a Norse God. Along the way he's helped by a punk rock angel. Cam is not the most likable of characters, but that doesn't mean he's not believable as a character. He's selfish before he finds out he's dying, and when he gets sick, he doesn't see it as an experience to turn his life around. Instead, he gets pissed off. Which, while not likable and not what we tend to see in books, is frankly, the same thing I would do.

I didn't like Cam in the beginning, but I loved his voice, so I didn't mind that I didn't like him. I really liked Cam by the end.

I most loved the happiness cult and what the snow globe company does to protect people. (Yeah, that's vague, but I don't want to spoil it.)

This draws a lot of inspiration from Don Quixote, which I haven't read (but I have read a few plot summaries, and seen the Animaniacs version). Bray's not shy about the Don Quixote connections (Cam's reading it for school) and c'mon! The angel is named Dulcie!

My one complaint is that much of the tension comes from wondering if Cam's adventures real or a hallucination brought on by his brain's disintegration. The truth is too obvious too early. I wanted her to stretch that out further. While I knew what was what, I didn't want my feelings to be confirmed that early...

The other was the end, which I'll talk about here, because MAJOR SPOILAGE.

But overall? A really great book that's really enjoyable on the surface, but underneath lurks an homage to great literature and lots of other little things that make it secretly amazing.

Book Provided by... my local library

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3 comments:

Meg said...

I've been curious about this one for a while but tended to not pick it up because, as you mention, I wasn't a huge fan of Bray's A Great And Terrible Beauty. I fully expected to love that novel and I just... didn't. Still, this sounds interesting -- and I like the Quixote parallels! Might look into it! :)

Melissa said...

I wasn't a fan of Great and Terrible Beauty, but this one hit me just right at exactly the right time: I thought it was hilarious, touching, and plain weird and couldn't put it down.

Tiny Little Librarian said...

This is on my TBR list for the Book Awards Challenge, but I've been putting it off a bit because I wasn't in love with Great and Terrible Beauty and the subject seems so weird. But I'm relieved to hear it's worth it!