Libba Bray’s 2010 Printz-award winning YA novel Going Bovine is an interesting read on several levels. It’s a retelling of Don Quixote from the perspective of Cameron, a teenager with underachiever slacker angst. Cameron’s world is rocked he’s diagnosed with mad cow disease. Now his life not only sucks; it’s almost over. When Dulcie, an angel with a punk/alternative streak, tells Cameron he can save both the world and himself, he takes on the challenge.
Accompanying Cameron on his hero quest to save the world is a Gonzo, a dwarf and high school classmate, and Balder, the Norse god in yard gnome form. Dulcie makes appearances to encourage Cameron and occasionally give him life lessons.
Cameron travels from Texas to New Orleans to Florida, all the while being chased by fire ants, an evil wizard, and a security team from a snow-globe manufacturer. Will he find Dr. X in time to save the world? Or is he still in his hospital bed?
Going Bovine generally succeeds as a coming-of-age story, hero’s quest, and comic novel. The beginning is a little slow, and I never fully clicked with Cameron. I enjoyed the sarcastic metaphors and social commentary (consumerism, religious brainwashing, obsession with celebrities/doing anything it takes to get famous to name a few). Cameron eventually learns that life is messy and unfair but it’s important to live and to love. Even with the end in sight.
Not my favorite book, but I can see why this book both appeals to many people while alienating others.
Read by: Kelly
Title: Going Bovine
Author: Libba Bray
Read: January 2011
Source: Public Library