This book starts out like any typical YA novel our narrator is Cameron, a sixteen year old kid who is dealing with the typical family issues, going to a typical high school, and having typical sixteen year old problems and thoughts We get through about sixty pages of this, so Libba Bray can set up Cameron s personality and situation, and then BAM She flips everything on its head, and suddenly the book takes a U turn into Crazyville Cameron is diagnosed with Creutzfeldt Jakob disease, better known as mad cow disease The disease will slowly eat away at his brain until he dies There is no treatment, no cure So Cameron s in the hospital, trying to deal with the fact that he s going to die very soon, when he is visited by a punk rock, pink haired angel who tells him that he s been given a mission Cameron has to find a Dr X, who accidentally opened a wormhole and released dark energy into the world If Cameron can find Dr X in time, he ll be cured And thus begins the most awesome road trip ever, in which Cameron breaks out of the hospital, assisted by a hypochondriac dwarf named Gonzo, and tries to find Dr X while also fighting off fire giants and a dark wizard There s banter, pop culture references, lots of quotes from a made up movie that s certainly not Star Wars, drag queens, drinking, cults, music, parallel universes, sex, and a lawn gnome that s actually the Norse god Balder It s all amazing and scary and dramatic and, because this is Libba Bray we re talking about, fucking hilarious It s intense, too without giving away the ending, I ll just say that it s one of those endings where I finished the book and had to go sit somewhere quiet for a few minutes, and do nothing except think about the story There s a twist ending, but I guessed it so easily and so quickly that I almost suspect it s not supposed to be that big of a surprise I think the point isn t that we re not supposed to guess the twist I think the point is that we guess it, but still spend the entire story hoping that we re wrong sorry I can t get into any detail without spoiling the ending read it the book, and then we ll talk about it Maybe there s a heaven, like they say, a place where everything we ve ever done is noted and recorded, weighed on the big karma scales Maybe not Maybe this whole thing is just a giant experiment run by aliens who find our human hijinks amusing Or maybe we re an abandoned project started by a deity who checked out a long time ago, but we re still hard wired to believe, to try to make meaning out of the seemingly random Maybe we re all part of the same unconscious stew, dreaming the same dream, hoping the same hopes, needing the same connection, trying to find it, missing, trying again each of us playing our parts in the others plotlines, just one big ball of human yarn tangled up together Maybe this is it. As I plow through this sludge, I m reminded of a favorite quote, which I think is from Charles Ives, Awards are the badges of mediocrity I am becoming cynical and distrustful of any work, fiction or otherwise, that wins any award I don t read a metric tonne of YA, I like much of it, and this book looked interesting The cover, title, and premise of this novel intrigued me but since I insist on doing idiotic things, like reading forwards, after I return home from the library, I should have known better I found the writers mocking and limp satiric voice off putting, not nearly so in the teenage protagonist, but stillsatire needs to be leavened with wit, truth and sympathy, all of which are almost completely lacking in this book Yet, I am plowing on, at nearly the half way point, the book is just a chore to read I will put up with language, sex, violence, anything, as long as it is integral to the story, it s development or morality in this case it seems to have been the product of perhaps an attempt at shock value, or maybe pseudo realism, and ultimately comes off as cheap writing Also the book is full of modern cliches about everything the wise African American, Jazz loving, record store owner the detached, fitness obsessed, morally obtuse, overly logical father the ditsy, liberal arts Mom the shallow, weight obsessed, mocking cheer leader sister the Texan, Christian, high school hypocrites Blah, blah, blah The protagonist is unlikable, which is fine for a start, but after 100 pages I wished him to go away, especially since the novel is all first person narrative Also, as someone who was a nerdy teenager, not too long ago, he just didn t seem real I remember what it was like to be 16 and on the outside, not caring about much, but still there was something very manufactured about him, and his world It didn t ring very true the writing is very good in spite of my comment above about choices of language , the author, Libba Bray, knows how to write but the story just didn t jive very well All of the irony and Don Quixote references were slathered on far too thickly for my taste and showed an inability to create a plot of originality or value as a result the story didn t generate any longing for , for beauty, or for the character to triumph It is basically a modern anthem to a sort of Nietzsche ian despair and a plummet into narcissism, disguised as wisdom Plus it didn t help that the works major conceit is transparent, I am 99% sure I know how the book will end, and peeking at the other reviews here confirms my suspicions The bulk of the narrative, the whole peripatetic voyage is too much, all the time, small doses, honey please The humor is cruel and un truthful, and the topics of attack are frankly easy in our current culture She takes on materialism oh no, not that, no one s ever done that before and mega corporations, oh, no, not that, not like the mega corporation that s publishing this tripe Please Here other targets are equally easy and in fact she has neither a consistent philosophy or moral vision for the work so far what she likes is lauded, what she dis likes is condemned, hypocrisy is the main theme and since hypocrisy is the ne plus ultra of modern sins so what She reveals throughout the book her own hypocrisyat any rateIf you want a dark window into our culture with little literary or redemptive value, you might like this book otherwise, don t waste your time or money I have rarely been moved to write such a scathing review, but the waste of talent that this book represents and the awards it garnered demanded it I m highly suspicious that it was the meaninglessness and nastiness of this work that prompted the awards how else to explain the awards with its lack of merit, originality, or vision. Can Cameron Find What He S Looking For All 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 me this book fail.I made it to page 93 and still wasn t feeling it I think it was just a touch too random and there were so many tangents from the main story line that I wasn t engaged enough Also, the quirky anecdotes and asides just didn t do anything for me Perhaps as an Aussie I just have a different sense of humour and found it too hard to relate Once I started doing the skimming thing I was trying to zoom ahead and see if I could stumble across the plot, somewhere, hidden in there I just decided to move on altogether.it is a unique book and very much loved just not for me.On a side note I am kind of proud of myself for giving up on books I m not into lately I used to hang in there gritting my teeth until the bitter end Kind of liberating, allowing myself to ditch a book that doesn t match me I really wanted to love this, but honestly this was the weirdest book I ve ever read, and I once read a book where the main character could listen to Justin Timberlake s music and literally transport herself into a realistic sex scene with him So there s that While there were a lot of things about this book that I really liked, I feel like I really missed the point unfortunately The talking gnome was the best part though tbh 10 10 would read an entire book about Baldr. Okay, here s my review It started out good although very reminiscent of a modern day Holden Caulfield.Then it went really psychedelic.Then I finished it and found something else to read.Great concept just kind of average execution. Somewhat apt analogy here Libba Bray hanging out with the stoners and miscreants in the high school bathroom, some with little on their mind than escaping the mundane world by getting high and wadding up the the institutional cheap ass paper towels, getting them wet and hurling the gluey muck at the ceiling, while Libba s there doing the same, but through her cannabis fug is intent on recreating a Dale Chihuly esque Bellagio Hotel like thing of beauty, transforming the splatfest into something gorgeousGoing Bovine, Ms Bray s 470 page attempt to tackle the mysteries of life or something , is not exactly high art , but there s lots here to admire For some including yours truly maybetoo much More than a few times I found myself rolling my eyes at its madhouse lunacy evoking the feelings I got fromReady Player One yet throughout I couldn t help but marvel at the creativity on display.Cameron our narrator is well on the way to loserhood, often hanging out in the stoners bathroom at Calhoun High in Texas to forget that he s the polar opposite of his popular twin sister and the center of opprobrium to his parents A particularly wicked smoke session ends badly, with Cameron hallucinating fire giants hell bent on infernal destruction Bad pot Turns out, no In the hospital he s diagnosed with advanced stages of Creutzfeldt Jakob aka Mad Cow Disease He s visited by a pink haired punk rock angel named Dulcie and encourages him to take a road trip with his asthmatic, probably hypochondriac dwarf hospital roommate named Gonzo and find the elusive Dr X to save his life Thus begins the Bray seemingly stoned splatfest where she wheels out the sm rgasbord of projectiles Bad ass Nordic garden gnomes, snow globes, a bowling alley church of perpetual happiness and unlimited 300 games and holy nachos , Buddha Burgers, Inuit pop stars, New Orleans jazz legends, string theory and wormhole, and alternate reality physicists, Schr dinger s Cat, Shithenge not to be confused with the non fecal stone version , corporate branding gone amok, reality TV, The Happiest Place On Earthad seemingly infinitum Oh, yeah, can t forget Bray s glue a healthy splooge of CervantesDon Quixote.Yikes It s tough to imagine all this splatted disparate arcana actually cohering into a work of art I ll be the first to admit there are plenty of missteps on display here, but I ve not been as consistently if guiltily fascinated by an author s imagination in quite a while. These are hard times The world hurts We live in fear and forget to walk with hope But hope has not forgotten you So ask it to dinner It s probably hungry and would appreciate the invitationOne word to describe this book CRUELIt s also one of the most honest books I ve ever read.ASK ME HOW I M FEELING RIGHT NOW.I m feeling everything all at once I am bleeding light Libba Bray, how could you Why would you make such a masterpiece that s both life changing and horrifying But, oh well, most life changing things scare you first and keep you awake at night thinkingThe 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 Going Bovinetells the story of Cameron Smith and how his life was slowly drained out of him by mad cow disease It s an adventure that will keep you looking for the meaning of life, serving you answers with the aid of a gnome, a dwarf, and a pink haired, sweet toothed angel.I didn t expect all the things that this book contained It was so random, literally, but the author was able to stitch up those weird things together to create so much depth, leaving a big, black hole in my chest.I was hesitant at first to read this book because I usually don t like stories that focus on characters that would most probably die due to their disease I still gave it a try because Libba Bray wrote it and I love her The Diviners series so much The things that Cameron went through were so unpredictable It just showed how creative the author is and that she s excellent in it.The author s writing for this book is flawless, even though a huge amount of cussing was thrown into it to inject a certain amount of casualness It was, in itself, filled with personalityWho but the mad would choose to keep on living In the end, aren t we all just a little crazyThis was such a hilarious read although it tackles serious issues in life that we usually don t discuss What would you do if you were told that you could still be saved from dying in the hands of such an incurable disease Would you give it your all and take the risk of finding a solution to that problem What makes life worth living What defines happiness Is there even a time for love if you re dying What awaits us at the end of the road There were just so many questions that clawed at my soul throughout the story, that by the end of it I was bursting with enlightenment and tears.Cameron lived a normal and ordinary life before he got sick He had issues like most teenagers His sister went with the popular kids who didn t like the weird ones like him, and so they didn t get along His parents relationship was slowly being torn apart by the affair that his father was most probably having with his secretary, and his mother s weakness in opinions and decisions.I could relate to Cameron in some ways and that made me feel sad He was driven by his will, by his hope, even though the path he was taking didn t absolutely guarantee what he was seeking Maybe, in some ways, at some points in life, we ve all been like him fueled by want and desire to reach a goal.Meeting Dulcie somehow changed Cameron s life It was an opportunity of tainting the night sky with bursts of fireworks She was adorable, a bit confusing sometimes due to her indirect instructions and statements as a messenger and guide Dulcie was a very interesting character, but among all of them, she was the one I least understood as a person due to her being mysterious.Gonzo, the dwarf, was quite entertaining He had OCD, which was basically induced by his mom He had to make sure that anything he ate or used was sanitized well enough based on his mom s standards.Balder, the yard gnome who claimed to be a god cursed, was also very amusing The way he talked was very formal, and he spoke of his identity and where he came from firmly and surely, neglecting people s doubts about himShe never utters a sound even when she s crying, and that makes me a little sad Doesn t seem right When you cry, people should hear you The world should stopEvery scenario in the trip that went well was something, I supposed, equaled to pain in Cameron s reality He was falling further to the bottom the closer he reached the end of the road It was terrifying, but real It was both hopeful and hopeless.In the end, it was all about appreciating the life each person was given It was about looking back at every turn made and not regretting any of them Going Bovine is an honest story confronting the lies we tell ourselves It s eye opening and heart shattering.This read is highly recommended and everyone should read it Bray takes on the great Don Quixote and delivers than a modern satire She gives us a wild ride worthy of Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz that is not only fun and hilarious but moving and exceptionally written This novel is a monumental undertaking and somehow Bray accomplishes it.In the beginning, I found Cameron wholly unrelatable, but Bray is so witty and has such a way with sarcastic metaphors and sneaking in description so you see and smell and hear and feel the book without it slowing down the plot that I didn t want to stop reading even though I didn t care about Cameron who was a total loser He s going nowhere at school Gets fired from his job with good reason Hates his family and they aren t too fond of his slackerness either His only hobby seems to be to listen to music he hates so he can mock it He s high at least once a week Shows no hope, no responsibility, and elicits zero sympathy from me But Bray managed to keep me interested in his story and smiling at her wit despite the f word coming out in every sentence Isn t it against some social norm to say the f word when you re talking about Disneyland Just as I was getting turned off with the too modern feel references to WTF, rents, things like that in a story that didn t seem to go anywhere, Cameron develops mad cow disease and starts his mental decline That s when he heads out on a mission to save himself and the world On his travels, he takes a hypochondriac dwarf, picks up a talking garden gnome, and heads toward the happiest place on earth following clues of the seemingly random with help from a punk rock angel Yeah, it s that whacked.I laughed and smiled through all his misadventures that were really the adventure in disguise The way Bray weaved everything in his life from snow globes to cartoons into this adventure so that it was not only important but part of some grander metaphor for his life was utter genius I am in awe of Bray s creative power Through his whole crazy adventure, you can laugh at this story for the slapstick humor or find that deep meaningful awareness of pot talk not that I ve ever been there You know that feeling when you finish a book or a movie and you feel like something monumental has happened, but nothing s happened to you All you did was watch a movie or read a book That s how I felt when I closed this book, which is pretty amazing that Bray made me experience the book on its terms But this book isn t for everyone Just like you have to be in the right mood or the right person to appreciate Alice in Wonderland or The Wizard of Oz, you have to be there to appreciate this For all my disdain at the swearing and my initial turn off to the character which ended up being necessary , for what the book accomplishes, I have to to say, Wow That s a palindrome It s in the book Minor Spoilers in my symbolism happy analysis view spoiler Let s start with some of that social satire Bray criticizes the brainwashing of religious cults, consumerism, and a society of instant gratification in one swoop with CESSNAB I kept thinking this must be a mingled acronym for something else, but can t find anything in those letters I think this was my favorite detour The criticism was pretty self explanatory, especially library girl s speech about censorship.Bray also takes on our obsession with celebrities and extreme reality TV with the YA Party House in a section that reeks of spring break on MTV She shows what people will do for a little screen time of under the pressure of a cheering crowd I loved her bits about the travel gnomes and Vikings, not that Vikings are commentary about society but it was sure amusing and Balder s quest proves foreshadowing of Cameron s quest.I found parallels to the government s fear and oversight after 9 11 with the United Snow Globe Wholesalers, especially their FBI wardrobe and speech about terrorists And Bray manages to criticize tacky knick knack souvenirs in the process Plus, she takes on tabloid news and how much news gives rise to panic instead of information I loved the employee stuff too, how impersonal corporate America has become A lot of social satire packed into every storyline.There s commentary on celebrity fundraisers that nobody knows what for with the Big Benefit Concert for Peace but Against Non Peace and People Generally Being Not Nice I loved the Copenhagen International sections What is the real meaning of The Seven Ways to Say Snow or any of those seemingly deep lyrics to big bands that everyone loves and sings along to without getting I loved how the band tied into the quantum physics with Dr X had a theory that certain musical frequencies could open up portals in the fabric of time and space Something about the vibrations He believed that music was in fact its own dimension Music also gives another underlying theme, which ironically comes from the music he loves to mock To live is to love, to love is to live Some of my favorite moments had to do with humor about physics Quantum physics has a problem of major gravity and The Theory of Everything Plus a Little Bit More Stephen Hawking humor I love how Bray uses bathroom pot talk to unveil an underlying theme in the book with Shroeder s cat without looking in the box, one cannot know if the cat is dead or alive and therefore both possibilities exist And even how she used the Road Runner cartoon to show the concept of alternative universes, that behind every door is a different possibility and who s to say which one is real There s a whole lot of symbolism in the book dressed up in that meaningless adventure My favorite one is the Disney World e ticket keeping him alive The book starts with this line The best day of my life happened when I was five and almost died at Disney World Isn t that one of the best lines ever It is that memory, all of his memories, and his capability to think that keep him alive and give him existence Besides, how could a book of social satire in America not be pivoted around the happiest place on earth that is real to children but not real There s a whole lot with Dr X too did anyone catch that Dr Specialist s name was Dr Xavier When I read that he was searching for Dr X, I couldn t help thinking about Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where they re looking for the X and low and behold they re standing on it That the X that marks the spot Cameron s mission is with him the entire time He just had to find it within himself.Then there s the Wizard of Reckoning You can go into the whole there s nothing to fear but fear itself and how the only people we have to reckon with in the end is ourselves I found it interesting that he was dressed as a combination of a knight and a space age astronaut, a redressing of Don Quixote as a modern telling I did find it disrespectful to talk down the great Don Quixote with some of her slang and the f word The only class Bray takes the time to go into detail about is the discussion of that book Is Don Quixote mad or is the world that embraces these ideals mad More foreshadowing of an underlying theme of the book Everything in the beginning seems random, but it all ties together in Cameron s mission because there is no seemingly random Things like Phantasos on the Mardi Gras parade We are weary travelers trying to find our way home on a road that never ends Am I part of your dream Or are you but a part of mine The Wishing Tree that grants the essence of a wish The Star Fighter movies that every kid memorizes because he wants to be the hero of a great adventure The snow globes where the only way to have a perfect, unaltered life is not to live but be trapped in a glass cage The Road Runner cartoons with the coyote always chasing something he cannot reach and the episode with the doors of endless possibilities Balder on a quest to find something that isn t there Gonzo so afraid to get sick and die that he doesn t experience anything The old lady across the hall who wants beauty when she dies And Dulcie who represents the message she can t tell Cameron because he has to find out for himself and when he does that meaning she as the message is his reward.I am in most awe that Bray breaks a cardinal rule of YA fiction, especially first person YA, and it works Just in case you clicked on the spoiler tag but still haven t read the book, I won t say what it is, but if you ve read it, you should know what about talking about with the ending It works because you don t like pre mad cow Cameron, but on this journey he discovers himself and becomes a likable person so you re rooting for that Cameron I like the Cameron that meets Dulcie and decides to live instead of sneer at life I loved how the ending brought his world around full circle back to Disney World and gave life to that existential moment of his youth when he realized life is all a charade The symbolism amazed me hide spoiler Sixteen year old Cameron Smith confidently states that the best day of his entire life was when he was a toddler and his family visited Disney Land During that day he almost got himself killed in a freak drowning accident Already it is evident of Cameron s mindset, or the teenage group he fits into the lazy, jaded, underachievers that dwell within the restrooms of high school smoking pot Things can t seem to get any worse until Cameron learns he has contracted Mad Cow Disease and that his death is inevitable After his immediate hospitalization a drug induced hallucination appears by his bedside and persuades him to find a cure and save the world from evil fire giants The remainder of the book details his adventures, including punk cow angels, New Orleans greatest musicians, Slurpee machines gone wild, and a talking yard gnome Throughout his exciting endeavor Cameron learns what truly separates simply existing and living life to the fullest.Whether it was the fact that I was busy achieving this book s theme living life or that the plot seemed to drag, it took me quite a long time to finish this novel What stood out to me the most but failed to impress me was the seemingly endless middle portion of the book where Cameron goes on the crazy adventure Bray does a good job of communicating the fact that Cameron s brain is deteriorating yet I never felt a connection to the character at all Which is strange because I am an adolescent male.The main highlight of Going Bovine was its humorous events There were moments I found myself laughing out loud due to the sheer hilarity of occurrences taking place There were also quite a few allusions to various individuals and objects, however, because of the book s intended age group I m fairly certain that many teenagers will not understand the references and will be left scratching their heads in confusion.Another good aspect of Going Bovine was its central theme or the idea that Bray is trying to communicate throughout the story living life to the fullest and not letting yourself simply exist The theme was stuck into almost every situation Cameron found himself in, so even the most uneducated teen could understand what the book is about Sadly, Cameron s little fantasy that was taking place inside his mind didn t enthrall me at all by the middle of the book I was rapidly flipping the pages not because I couldn t wait to see what was happening, but because I wanted to get it over with A little note to the side is that the last few pages were actually extraordinary, it was one of the few moments I found myself emotionally connecting to the story and characters Overall I would only recommend this to people that don t have a to read list containing a large amount of books because Going Bovine will take you a while to finish and by the end you may be wondering why you bothered to read it in the first place although it wasn t that horrible.Want to read of my reviews Follow me here.