Going Bovine

Going Bovine

4.1 242
by Libba Bray

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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 winged form of

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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 winged form of Dulcie, a loopy punk angel/possible hallucination with a bad sugar habit. She tells Cam there is a cure—if he’s willing to go in search of it. With the help of a death-obsessed, video-gaming dwarf and a yard gnome, Cam sets off on the mother of all road trips through a twisted America into the heart of what matters most.

Editorial Reviews

Lisa Von Drasek
…manages to turn a hopeless situation into a hilarious and hallucinatory quest, featuring an asthmatic teenage dwarf, Gonzo; a pink-haired angel in combat boots, Dulcie; and Balder, a Norse god who is cursed with the form of a garden gnome…Libba Bray not only breaks the mold of the ubiquitous dying-teenager genre—she smashes it and grinds the tiny pieces into the sidewalk. For the record, I'd go anywhere she wanted to take me.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Cameron Smith, 16, is slumming through high school, overshadowed by a sister “pre-majoring in perfection,” while working (ineptly) at the Buddha Burger. Then something happens to make him the focus of his family's attention: he contracts mad cow disease. What takes place after he is hospitalized is either that a gorgeous angel persuades him to search for a cure that will also save the world, or that he has a vivid hallucination brought on by the disease. Either way, what readers have is an absurdist comedy in which Cameron, Gonzo (a neurotic dwarf) and Balder (a Norse god cursed to appear as a yard gnome) go on a quixotic road trip during which they learn about string theory, wormholes and true love en route to Disney World. Bray's surreal humor may surprise fans of her historical fantasies about Gemma Doyle, as she trains her satirical eye on modern education, American materialism and religious cults (the smoothie-drinking members of the Church of Everlasting Satisfaction and Snack 'N' Bowl). Offer this to fans of Douglas Adams's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy seeking more inspired lunacy. Ages 14–up. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Claudia Mills
Bovine, as in Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, that is to say, mad cow disease, which sixteen-year-old Cameron is not thrilled to find out he has, given that this is an invariably "fatal virus that eats holes in your brain." Cameron used to think "it would be cool to die young. Honestly, things weren't going so well in the life department. Death seemed infinitely more glamorous and, you know, kind of hard to f—- up." But the trouble is that he has never really lived. So it's time for a road trip, accompanied by a germ-phobic dwarf, a Norse god yard gnome come to life, and a tough-talking angel: maybe together they can find the mysterious Dr. X who offers the only hope of a cure - and in the process save the world from Dr. X's dark energy that otherwise is going to destroy the universe. Oh, and maybe in the process Cameron can finally understand jazz, lose his virginity, become the object of a nationwide manhunt, bowl a lot of strikes, and eat a lot of vanilla smoothies. This is a huge book in every way: an epic, picaresque 480-page journey; a scathingly observed social satire of the ways in which we numb ourselves to avoid the pain and risk of actually engaging with our lives; a stay-up-late-to-finish-it page-turner; and a sprawling, hilarious, and deeply moving meditation on what it is, in the end, that makes life worth living. Reviewer: Claudia Mills, Ph.D.
VOYA - Laura Panter
Sixteen-year-old Cameron Smith is a social outcast and known slacker. He has no desire to care about anything in life until he is diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease, otherwise known as mad cow disease, and discovers that he is going to die. As Cameron's health continues to worsen, he sinks into a dreamland that resembles a world on a bad drug trip. Hope arrives in this parallel universe with punk angel, Dulcie, who makes Cameron believe there is a cure for his illness. Cam's journey for that cure takes him on a cross-country road trip from Texas to Florida where he makes friends with a dwarf nicknamed Gonzo and a talking garden gnome who believes himself to be the Viking god Baldar. Together they encounter mythical jazz musicians, battle fire giants, escape a happiness cult, meet universe-hopping physicists, dodge wacked-out snow-globe police, and befriend fame-obsessed teenagers. Bray portrays Cameron so realistically that he is every teen struggling with his or her identity. At times, readers will both love and hate Cameron as his adventures are alternately comical, nail biting, and heart wrenching. Readers will be rooting for Cameron to overcome his obstacles to save himself and claim his love for Dulcie. The novel is a laugh-out-loud, tear-jerking, fantastical voyage into the meaning of what is real in life and how someone can learn to live. It is a must-purchase for any libraries wanting to reach out to all teens who need to know there are stories out there for them. Reviewer: Laura Panter
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—In this ambitious novel, Cameron, a 16-year-old slacker whose somewhat dysfunctional family has just about given up on him, as perhaps he himself has, when his diagnosis of Creutzfeldt-Jacob, "mad cow" disease, reunites them, if too late. The heart of the story, though, is a hallucinatory—or is it?—quest with many parallels to the hopeless but inspirational efforts of Don Quixote, about whom Cameron had been reading before his illness. Just like the crazy—or was he?—Spaniard, Cam is motivated to go on a journey by a sort of Dulcinea. His pink-haired, white-winged version goes by Dulcie and leads him to take up arms against the Dark Wizard and fire giants that attack him intermittently, and to find a missing Dr. X, who can both help save the world and cure him. Cameron's Sancho is a Mexican-American dwarf, game-master hypochondriac he met in the pot smokers' bathroom at school who later turns up as his hospital roommate. Bray blends in a hearty dose of satire on the road trip as Cameron leaves his Texas deathbed—or does he?—to battle evil forces with a legendary jazz horn player, to escape the evil clutches of a happiness cult, to experiment with cloistered scientists trying to solve the mysteries of the universe, and to save a yard gnome embodying a Viking god from the clutches of the materialistic, fame-obsessed MTV-culture clones who shun individual thought. It's a trip worth taking, though meandering and message-driven at times. Some teens may check out before Cameron makes it to his final destination, but many will enjoy asking themselves the questions both deep and shallow that pop up along the way.—Suzanne Gordon, PeachtreeRidge High School, Suwanee, GA
Kirkus Reviews
In a marked departure from her Victorian-era Gemma Doyle trilogy, Bray offers a novel about a road trip undertaken by surly Cameron, a 16-year-old mad cow-disease sufferer, Gonzo, his hypochondriac dwarf hospital roommate, and a sentient garden gnome who is actually the Norse god Balder. This decidedly fantastical premise mixes with armchair physics and time-travel theory as they make their way from Texas to Florida. Or possibly Cameron is just hallucinating his way through his last days in a hospital bed. Whichever view of this at times too-sprawling tale readers take, along the way there is plenty of delightfully funny dialogue ("Okay, Balder? Could you and your Norse goodness do me a solid and take a hike? I need a minute here") and enough real character development, in spite of all the purposefully zany details, to cause genuine concern for their respective fates. Fans of the author's previous works will not be disappointed, and it may appeal to science-fiction and fantasy fans with a taste for dry humor as well. (Fantasy. 14 & up)
From the Publisher
Starred Review, Booklist, August 1, 2009:
"An unforgettable, nearly indefinable fantasy adventure."

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, August 3, 2009:
"Bray's surreal humor may surprise fans."

Melanie Hundley
Mad Cow Disease? Who gets that? All Cameron wanted to do was get through high school with minimal effort; then he is diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jacob (Mad Cow Disease). This diagnosis changes Cameron's life and his relationship with his relatively dysfunctional family. Before his illness, Cameron had been reading the story of Don Quixote, and as his illness progresses, he finds himself battling Dark Wizards and Fire Giants. Cameron's battles, or hallucinations, parallel Don Quixote's in both their epic nature and their hopelessness. His Dulcinea, a punk angel with a serious sugar habit, tells him there is a cure for his illness if he will search for it. Cameron embarks on the wild journey, or hallucination, joined by his Sancho, named Gonzo, a death-obsessed master gamer. He and Gonzo battle cults and vigilantes, encounter physicists and jazz musicians, all in the hope of finding the cure and what matters most in life. Reviewer: Melanie Hundley

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Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.50(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

In Which I Introduce Myself

The best day of my life happened when I was five and almost died at Disney World.

I’m sixteen now, so you can imagine that’s left me with quite a few days of major suckage.

Like Career Day? Really? Do we need to devote an entire six hours out of the high school year to having “life counselors” tell you all the jobs you could potentially blow at? Is there a reason for dodgeball? Pep rallies? Rad soda commercials featuring Parker Day’s smug, fake-tanned face? I ask you.

But back to the best day of my life, Disney, and my near-death experience.

I know what you’re thinking: WTF? Who dies at Disney World? It’s full of spinning teacups and magical princesses and big-assed chipmunks walking around waving like it’s absolutely normal for jumbo-sized stuffed animals to come to life and pose for photo ops. Like, seriously.

I don’t remember a whole lot about it. Like I said, I was five. I do remember that it was hot. Surreal hot. The kind of hot that makes people shell out their life savings for a bottle of water without even bitching about it. Even the stuffed animals started looking less like smiling, playful woodland creatures and more like furry POWs on a forced march through Toonland. That’s how we ended up on the subterranean It’s a Small World ride and how I nearly bit it at the place where America goes for fun.

I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced the Small World ride. If so, you can skip this next part. Honestly, you won’t hurt my feelings, and I won’t tell the other people reading this what an asshole you are the minute you go into the other room.

Where was I?

Oh, right—so much we share, time aware, small world. After all.

So. Small World ride, brief sum-up: Long-ass wait in incredibly slow-moving line. Then you’re put into this floating barge and set adrift on a river that winds through a smiling underworld of animatronic kids from every country on the planet singing along in their various native tongues to the extremely catchy, upbeat song.

Did I mention it’s about a ten-minute ride?

Of the same song?

In English, Spanish, Swahili, and Japanese?

I’m not going to lie to you; I loved it. Dude, I said to myself, this is the shit. Or something like that in five-year-old speak. I want to live in this new Utopia of singing children of all nations. With luck, the Mexican kids will let me wear their que festivo sombreros. And the smiling Swedes will welcome me into their happy Nordic hoedown. Välkommen, y’all. I will ride the pink fuzzy camel in some vaguely defined Middle Eastern country (but the one with pink fuzzy camels) and shake a leg with the can-can dancers in Gay Paree.



Guten Tag.


I was with the three people who were my world—Mom, Dad, my twin sister, Jenna—and for one crazy moment, we were all laughing and smiling and sharing the same experience, and it was good. Maybe it was too good. Because I started to get scared.

I don’t know exactly how I made the connection, but right around Iceland, apparently, I got the idea that this was the after-life. Sure, I had heatstroke and had eaten enough sugar to induce coma, but really, it makes sense in a weird way. It’s dark. It’s creepy. And suddenly, everybody’s getting along a little too well, singing the same song. Or maybe it had to do with my mom. She used to teach English classics, heavy on the mythology, at the university B.C. (Before Children) and liked to pepper her bedtime stories with occasional bits about Valhalla or Ovid or the River Styx leading to the underworld and other cheery sweet-dreams matter. We’re a fun crew. You should see us on holidays.

Whatever it was, I was convinced that this ride was where you went to die. I would be separated from my family forever and end up in some part of the underworld where smiling kid robots in boater hats sang nonstop in Portuguese. I had to keep that from happening. And then—O Happy Day! Salvation! Right behind the Eskimo igloo (this was before they were the more politically correct but slightly naughty-sounding Inuits), I saw this little door.

“Mommy, where does that door go to?” I asked.

“I don’t know, honey.”

We were headed for certain death on the River Styx. But somehow I knew that if I could just get to that little door, everything would be okay. I could stop the ride and save us all. That was pretty much it for me. My five-year-old freak-out meter totally tripped. I slipped free of the seat and splashed into the fishy-smelling water, away from the doe-eyed, pinafored girl puppet singing, “En värld full av skratt, en värld av tårar” (Swedish, I’m told, for “It’s a world of laughter, a world of tears”).

The thing is, I didn’t know how to swim yet. But apparently, I was pretty good at sinking. You know that warning about how kids can drown in very little water? Quite true if the kid panics and forgets to close his mouth. You can imagine my surprise when the water hit my lungs and I did not immediately start singing, “There’s so much that we share.”

The last thing I remember before I started to lose consciousness was my mom screaming to stop the ride while crushing Jenna to her chest in case she got the urge to jump too. Above me, lights and sound blended into a wavy distortion, everything muted like a carnival heard from a mile away. And then I had the weirdest thought: They’re stopping the ride. I got them to stop the ride.

I don’t remember a whole lot after that, just fuzzy memories filled in by other people’s memories. The story goes that my dad dove in and pulled me out, dropping me right beside the igloo, and administered CPR. Official Disney cast members scampered out along the narrow edge of EskimoSoontoBeInuit-land, yammering into their walkie-talkies that the situation was under control. Slack-jawed tourists snapped pictures. An official Disney ambulance came and whisked me away to an ER, where I was pronounced pukey but okay. We went back to the park for free—I guess they were afraid we’d sue—and I got to go on the rides as much as I wanted without waiting in line at all because everybody was just so glad I was alive. It was the best vacation we ever took. Of course, I think it was also the last vacation we ever took.

It was Mom who tried to get the answers out of me later, once Jenna had fallen asleep and Dad was nursing his nerves with a vodka tonic, courtesy of the hotel’s minibar. I was sitting in the bathtub with the nonskid flower appliqués on the bottom. It had taken two shampoos to get the flotsam and jetsam of a small world out of my hair.

“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.

The 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.

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Starred Review, Booklist, August 1, 2009:
"An unforgettable, nearly indefinable fantasy adventure."

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, August 3, 2009:
"Bray's surreal humor may surprise fans."

Customer Reviews

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Going Bovine 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 242 reviews.
neji_pwnz More than 1 year ago
Wow, the book got a prize! I'm not surprised; it is possibly the most random, hilarious story I have ever read. If you're looking for something pretty much completely random and pointless that you will never quit laughing at/about or quoting, then look no further than "Going Bovine": you will not be disappointed! I think that it's best for geeky types: there are a number of references to the science of parallel dimensions, supercolliders, and my hero, Stephen Hawking. :D Not hard to grasp, though. Just really, really funny.
gcsoa More than 1 year ago
As a person who is constantly reading, it's a little easy to slip into that stream, the mainstream of books that are all sort of the same. And I'm not just talking about vampire romances, but more like those recommended feel-good books of the summer and the year's best fantasy novels. It was in the middle of my search for something different, something truly good, that I found Going Bovine. The first thing that got me was, yes, the cow with the gnome tucked under one hoof on the cover. I mean, seriously. That is pretty cool. Also, the author, Libba Bray, according to the 'about the author' on the back tab has a life dream of getting better at the drums on Rockband. I felt we immediately bonded even before page 1. Honestly, I wasn't really sure what to expect when I started, just that this kid got Mad Cow Disease and apparently drove across the nation. When I began reading it surprised me how deep the thoughts were running through this teenager's mind, and I instantly was hooked on the language and what this narrator had to tell me. It is set in the perfect small Texas town, with this perfect, quirky 16-year-old Cameron to guide us through the problems of his high-school life. He himself, is a cheesy-music loving, pot-smoking, sarcastic loser with the popular, pretty sister he has to deal with in his same grade. But everything changes when he begins to go through spasms in the middle of class and experiences sudden hallucinations of human-destroying fire giants. The doctors tell his family Cameron has been diagnosed with the human form of Mad Cow Disease, the disease that makes cows go... well, mad. And unfortunately, it does the same to humans. It gets worse and worse with many more mirages in his mind- feathers left for him with messages on them, strange websites telling of a cosmic tear in the universe... Cameron eventually blacks out after a particularly bad episode and is taken to the hospital. This is where the book gets very interesting. It is written in first-person, no doubt the best way to personally escort us into Cameron's mind, but Cameron has lost grasp on what is truly real. Though he's in the hospital for the whole time, within his mind, he is traveling cross-country, searching for a cure with a dwarf named Gonzo and a talking invincible yard gnome with the wisdom of Dulcie to guide the way, a winged punk angel with quite a thing for sugary foods. Cameron learns what's truly important, why living is living, and why death is a part of it along the way of this semi-epic, hilarious tale of space-knights, famous jazz-horns and of course, Disney World. This book had me involved the whole time, following the maybe-real journey into Cameron's mind, and loving it all the while. Definitely one of my favorite books of all time, and that's saying a lot. I recommend this to readers, non-readers, people who like cows, or are part of a happiness-cult that supports perfect bowling. (Yes, that last one is a part from the book.) Going Bovine, a truly excellent novel worth checking out and reading at least six times. So go follow Cameron in this book, and let's hope you become insane along the way.
Lindsey_Miller More than 1 year ago
First off, I know one ought not to judge a book by the cover, but how could I not be interested in a book called Going Bovine with a standing cow holding a garden gnome? Also, I would say that the story is not entirely what I expected it to be, but considering the description, a story like this could be just about anything. Seriously though, punk rock angel with pink wings, blobby fire demon things that destroy stuff, and a bad guy that takes the form of a knight with a space helmet. How can you not be surprised every few pages? All that said, it was far more like an epic story such as The Odyssey or The Aeneid than I would have thought it to be. Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if Bray didn't attempt to mirror something of epic legend through each of the scenarios throughout book. It does start out a bit slow, but once you get past the first 150 pages or so, it really picks up. Cameron is also not necessarily the character you would root for because of his lethargic outlook on life, but since he narrates it, you grow to love his sardonic inner dialogue. I actually laughed out loud a few times. I recommend this book to lovers of eccentric fantasies with a heavy helping of satire. -Lindsey Miller, www.lindseyslibrary.com
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I laughed out loud reading the acknowledgements so I knew I was in for a good ride. Libba Bray has her finger on the pulse of the American teenager, in fact, I was continually amazed how she was able to get inside the head of the modern teenage male. The book is clever, witty, edgy, emotional and so imaginative! The characters are very current, comical and accurate but refrain from being simple stereotypes. The story is a wild fantasy and topic not often explored in teen lit. Libba Bray has found a way to allow us all to experience what is important at 17 by putting her main character in a life & death situation. I still find myself thinking about the ending. The book had been compared to my favorite book CATCHER IN THE RYE so I picked it up to preview it before giving it to my 13yr old daughter. After reading it, I think she needs to wait t o read it until she is closer to 16. Not just because of language and sexual content, but because I don't think the book will be anything but "sensational" until she can actually relate to the characters emotionally. I recommend this book for teens in high school and especially their parents so they can get inside their teen's head and remember how we saw the world when we were young.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I saw this book in my schools library numerous times but never read it, until one day I decided to give it a try. Reading Going Bovine was one of the best choices i have ever made. Through out the entire story I was laughing uncontrolably and then sobbing like there was no tommorow. Going Bovine makes you realize how fragile and short life really is and that you need to do those things you have always wanted to do, that you need to take that chance because you never know what could happen. This is now my favourite book and I reccomend it to everyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book it was written thoughtfully and says things some autors are hesitant to say (like the matter of male/female attraction)
PenningrothRac More than 1 year ago
Cameron Smith was born below average, and his all-too-perfect twin sister Jenna got all the luck. Seriously. When Cameron is diagnosed with Mad Cow disease, his whole life grinds to a halt. No more smoking weed in the fourth floor men's bathroom, no more working long hours at the Buddha Burger, and no more dealing with a despondent father. After being moved to the hospital, an angel appears to him. The angel asks a very real question- do you want to die in here having done nothing with your life? Cameron is scared, so he decides that he wants to live a real life in the few weeks he has left. Now that he is ready to go, he decides to bring his new friend from school. His new friend is a death-obsessed video gaming dwarf nicknamed Gonzo. As Cameron and Gonzo go on their journey to save the world from dark energy, as the angel Dulcie told them, they meet strange people and do strange things. This story is full of randomness and laughter. The funny parts still hold meaning, and the deeper theme of living life is always shown. My favorite things about the book was the total randomness and cleverness shown in the book. With evil Wizards, fire giants, Norse gods, party houses, and a punk-rock angel, this story never failed to keep you guessing. The ending was particularly fantastic, but you'll have to read it to find that out now won't you? I recommend this book for anyone who can follow a crazy story and has the maturity to handle a more adult-like book. I give this book five stars because of the fantastic randomness of this book. Read it, and you won't regret it. Plus, you get lots of "why does your book have a cow carrying a lawn gnome on the front"s which are always interesting... So read the book and it will be one of the greatest stories you will ever read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow. Just wow. This book... read it. Pay no attention whatsoever to the bad comments on this book, for they are the most ill deserved reveiws in history. This book is definitely one of the greatest books I've ever read, and that's really saying something considering the sheer amount I read. I read the first half of this book while on a cruise, and had to leave the book aboard as it belonged to the ship's library. Needless to say I had to track this book down the minute I hit solid land. The charachters, the plot, the absolute maniac absurdity of this book, just.......WOW? I definitely reccomend this book to anyone who can read, and a few that can't. AND THE PLOT TWIST OMG
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a person who never reads. Ever. I had to pick up this book for summer reading and i was literally glued to it. For a girl who rarely reads, i think ive finally enjoyed reading because of this book. I feel like i was transported through time to a different world and i could clearly see every character and every scene. This has never happened to me. Although i may have to reread the last chapter for clarification, i am so glad i read this book. Hats off to thr author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Absolutely stunning.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The best, most random, heartful, odd, energetic, funny, emotional (in it's own ways), and creative teen read EVER WRITTEN! I recomend for ages 13 and up. This novel was just. Plain. Awesome.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the best book i have ever read . I wish that more books were like it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Libba Bray absolutely flabbergasts me. I had read all of the Gemma Doyle books and could hardly believe someone who wrote something like that could write something so hilarious. I laughed and I cried and found it amazing how she could mention something in the beginning of the book, only to have it be a key point much later in the novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Though i agree that there is so much swearing and definately something anyone under 15 or maybe 14 shouldnt read, it was really funny and amazing. the ending was really sad and i sort of wish it was happier, but i think it just makes it so much more memorable. :) loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Laughed from beginning to end
Goddess_Beth More than 1 year ago
It's not a surprise that I loved this book, given what a fan of Libba Bray's writing I am. But I was a bit surprised at the emotional impact this tale packed. It's hard to describe: part coming-of-age, part social satire, part straight fiction, but all humor and cheek. The premise is that the main character, a teenage guy who is sarcastic and a bit of a loner, has a rare brain disease. His journey is amazing, but Bray always gives us hints: is he on an actual quest? Or is this the brain damage altering his perception of reality? Or is he even still alive, and dreaming this? I won't deny it- I cried during this book. I also put it down and thought about the big-picture questions a few times. I also stayed up way too late, many nights in a row, in order to read "just one more chapter". The character voices are so unique and individual, and I absolutely love the attitudes they have. They're not spot-on to my memory of the teenager experience, but these characters are people I would want to hang out with right now. And of course, there's plenty of humor and satire. This is definitely a new favorite. I highly recommend it for everyone, across the board.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really interesting,funny, unique, and original
titania86 More than 1 year ago
Cameron Smith was an apathetic, wallflower kind of kid in high school. He was a slacker, who was uninterested in college and smoked pot in the bathroom during school. He also has a perfect, perky sister that makes him look even worse by comparison. That is, until his uncontrollable movements and hallucinations are diagnosed as Creutzfeldt-Jakob diseases, AKA mad cow disease. This disease is a prion (mutated protein) that pretty much pokes holes in the brain. It's incurable and fatal. He is spurred by a cute punk rock angel named Dulcie to go on a quest to save the world (and find a cure to his disease) along with a hypochondriac dwarf named Gonzo and a Norse god turned lawn gnome named Balder. Along the way, Cameron battles evil with a legendary jazz musician in New Orleans, narrowly escapes from a crazy happiness cult, helps a group of scientists with an experiment, and goes to Disney World. Libba Bray has created a crazy and unique retelling of Don Quixote. I actually didn't realize it was based on a specific novel until I read other reviews of it. I saw it as more of a modern version of the hero journey in mythology as illustrated by Joseph Campbell. Although the book is almost 500 pages long, I was completely sucked in and wanted to read it in one sitting. All of the characters were striking, original, and complete. Cameron was initially not a very likable character. He was rude to his friends and family and was just generally selfish. From the initial diagnosis to the end of the novel, he undergoes a transformation with every person he meets and every crazy situation he encounters. He slowly turns into a true hero. He gains appreciation for music and develops close relationships with the people around him. The things he revered in his old life are revealed to be shallow and meaningless in the new one. The journey was largely an internal one for Cameron. It can even be debated if the journey actually happened at all or if it was just the product of a deteriorating mind. This isn't a typical teen novel. It's one of the most unique books I have ever read in the young adult genre. I really respect the author that writes teen characters that curse and have sex because real teenagers (and people in general) curse and have sex. It's a part of life and pretending it doesn't exist or that's not how real people act does more harm than good in the lives of teenagers. I really enjoyed this novel. It was funny, tragic, and disturbing at times. I had so much fun the wild ride with Cameron and his friends. My only complaint was that the ending took a little bit away from my enjoyment of the novel. I felt it could have been more ambiguous in the end and a little less off the wall. Other than that it was awesome. I would recommend this book to pretty much anybody.
TheShort1 More than 1 year ago
I've read a lot of funny & weird books (Hiaasen, Christopher Moore,etc.), but this was different....only word that seems to fit. As it starts we are introduced to Cameron, a rebellious teenage boy, who is no stranger to getting into trouble. However, Cameron starts doing things he didn't mean to do, like dropping things. He thinks nothing of it and neither does anyone who knows him, because he is usually such and ornery kid. Soon, he has an episode which may be an hallucination or some kind of a seizure, which sends him to the hospital for tests. It is discoverd that he has mad cow disease (big bummer and fatal). What follows is the story of his stay in the hospital and his quest to find a cure and save the world....maybe. Whether it's an hallucination or real, it's a funny, poingnant, sweet, philosophical epic. He is joined on his quest by a gaming dwarf, a garden gnome, and an angel.
NikkiT More than 1 year ago
While it may not have been exactly the best book ever, I truly dug the tone it presented. It was exactly how I felt at the time and I couldn't have asked for a better book to read. I definitely recommend it. Read it; trust me you'll like it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i loved this book! i read all 480 pages in two days! it was a bit confusing at times but it eventually explains everything! there is a lot of language used in this book...but that's fine with me i guess...i kind of just ignored it. and the ending is really shocking! kinda...my point is i reccomend it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorite books. I loved reading it. I recommend this book to everyone.
Edentatus More than 1 year ago
The story of a teenage boy dealing with a fatal disease is a funny and insightful examination of what it means to be alive. I laughed through most of the book and cried over the last few pages. I plan to read it again this winter.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While reading this book there were many things that interested me, and there were many things that I thought tied the story together. The author of the book has done a great job at doing making an amusing novel that any young adult would like of they were to actually take the time and read through the book. The book contains a lot of adventure, and well in a sense it does mix emotion with wit. In the novel you are greeted by a main character named Cameron who would basically be the perfect definition of an almost average teenage boy, up until  one night where his whole life begins to change. The story basically follows the life of cameron after he experiences a tragedy that shocks his whole world. Cameron embarks on an adventure with his new found friends, which consist of a dwarf named Gonzo, a mysterious angel named Dulcie, and a talking garden gnome referred to as Balder. The four adventures then go on into trying to save the world. Though along the way Cameron experiences what it is to live, and changes as a person throughout the story. The story contains many things that would raise doubts as to whether it should be allowed to be read, but in all the story only shows truth as to what many young adults might be going through in their lives, and the author Libba Bray does an amazing job at catching the reader off guard as they slowly begin to realize what is going on throughout the story as a whole. Though the book may seem lengthy it is a very delightful book who should all be at least read it, because the book will have you Going Bovine as you eagerly await for what might happen next.