Book Review: Going Bovine (YA) by Libba Bray
Cameron Smith, the protagonist of Libba Bray’s hilarious YA novel Going Bovine, initially comes across as a teenage slacker. Not much interested in school or his part-time job, not really close to his parents or his sister. Mostly it seems, he just wants to smoke pot and listen to vinyl records from Eubie’s Hot Wax– a small independent store in the dusty Texas town where he lives. For the first seventy or eighty pages, Going Bovine feels like just another story of teen angst. Then it develops that Cameron is suffering from a variant of Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease, specifically bovine spongiform encephalopathy, which is to say Mad Cow Disease.
This may sound like a rather odd premise for a comedy, but Bray’s writing is laugh out loud funny almost from the very first page. And when a pink-winged angel named Dulcie shows up in Cameron’s hospital room and convinces him to embark on a quest to save himself (and the world), Cameron sets off on a wild road trip that will take him to New Orleans and Mardi Gras, to spring break on Daytona Beach and finally to Walt Disney World in Florida. Traveling along with his hospital room-mate, Gonzo, Cameron seeks out the powerful and mysterious Dr. X while meeting a world renown jazz musician, encountering the ever-smiling members of CESSNAB (the Church Of Everlasting Satisfaction, Snack Bar and Bowling Alley), a group of scientists who are working on time travel and various riddles of physics and a garden gnome named Balder, whom it develops is actually a Viking god caught up in the wrong place and time.
If you could use a laugh (or two or three or a thousand), do yourself a huge favor and pick up a copy of Going Bovine ASAP. Bray is a wonderful writer and you will almost certainly enjoy Going Bovine which is Very Highly Recommended.