Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Going Bovine

Going Bovine by Libba Bray. (Grades 9+)
Full disclosure: ARC provided by Random House.

Publisher description:

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.

So. Full confession. I made it to page 156 and gave up. Okay, to be completely honest I made it to page 98 and put it down for almost a week and then decided to go back and try to finish it because it's gotten great reviews.

There will be teens and adults who will Love It. I think Liz is right that it'll get starred reviews and be on best-of lists, but it just Wasn't My Thing.

I loved Cameron's voice instantly and the book's written with a lot of dark humor, which is something I can really get behind. I mean, here's the first line of the book:

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

Aren't you intrigued? Cameron goes on:

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 know if you've 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.


So, it started off good. I was loving Cameron's snark and attitude. But then it just took forever to get where it was going. I kept waiting for Cameron to get sick so the story could start. And it just took a really long time. I ran out of patience. So by the time he actually gets sick and goes off on this mystical journey, Cameron's voice didn't feel so fresh and I just wasn't that interested in his story. I was not nearly interested enough to read 480 pages of it.

I mean, I am not really into magical realism. And the whole "was the journey real or was it all in Cameron's mind?" aspect doesn't do anything for me either.

Now, go and read the reviews on Reading Rants! and Tea Cozy and Em's Bookshelf because they liked the book a lot. And I know a lot of people have been looking forward to it.

Going Bovine comes out on September 22, so go and read it and make up your own mind about it.

16 comments:

yukari said...

Oh, No....I was about to start reading Going Bovine! I got ARC at BEA and kept it for my vacation.

I will close my eyes now, but will come back to read your blog as soon as I 'm done.

LaurieA-B said...

Thanks for writing honestly about a book you didn't like--that's always interesting to read, especially amid a chorus of praise (for any book).

Melissa said...

I like your last sentence... maybe I will and maybe I won't. I'm not that much into magic realism, either. :)

librarian pirate said...

I keep defending Going Bovine because I love love LOVE Libba Bray and love magical realism and all that stuff, but I've been finding it hard going as well. I keep getting distracted by other books, other things to do ...

That said, yesterday I got to p 234 and things are starting to look up. I'll tell you what I think when I'm done!

GreenBeanTeenQueen said...

I have an ARC of this one, but haven't started it because of this. I'm afraid that even though it's gotten great reviews, I won't enjoy it. I wasn't a huge fan of A Great and Terrible Beauty. I'll give this one a try, but now I'll feel better if I can't get through it.

Susan said...

thanks for such an honest review, especially since I know so many have the opposite opinion.

Laughing Stars said...

I love this honest review -- you highlighted both the good and the bad. I *do* love that first line. :-)

marjorie said...

i too really appreciate negative reviews -- i too have seen all the raves, but it didn't sound like my kind of book either. (guess what? i am not a Pynchon fan either! people get so mad when you say that!)

austentatious said...

You bet me: I got to page 94 and had to quit. I did not find Cameron really intriguing at all and I think if the book was shorter I probably would have been more inclined to finish it. (I will say I cheated and read the last chapter, which was 2 pages or so and felt that was all I really needed to know.)
I am disappointed because I love the Gemma Doyle trilogy so much! That being said, I'm not one of those readers who expect authors to write the same thing. I knew it was going to be different and I looked forward to the differentness and you know, it's very possible that once you get past a certain page number, it will rock, but it's a fight to get to that spot in the book. Sigh. Libba Bray, I'm looking forward to what's next.

sharonluvscats said...

Ugh I made it to the garden gnome and I just couldn't take it anymore. This book was just so dull and not funny at all. The whole magical realism thing was just too weird for me. I feel like I needed to use lsd to understand this book! blah

Kelly said...

It's great to see another perspective, thank you for writing an honest review!

btw, a funny book about a sick kid done really well is Jack Tumor! I'm only halfway thru it, but I'm looooving it. :)

Cat Fancy said...

This review is great!!! I find it so hard to talk or write about a book I didn't like without coming across as mean or mad, but you did a fantastic job! (probably because I am mad for having wasted my time reading a book I didn't enjoy.) :)

Yukari said...

As I mentioned before, I tried to read the book before I read your review. But....I sort of gave up and came back to your review to...cheat.

OMG! It's exactly page 156 where I gave up. There's nothing special (or especially boring) about page 156, but I just fell asleep.

Tori Jensen said...

Shoot, I really wanted to LOVE this book. Alas, I too gave up. I only made it to page 118 or maybe it was 119. The beginning was really funny and Cameron's voice seemed right, but it started getting wayyyy too far fetched for me and my eyes glazed over and, well, I don't read fast enough to read a book I don't really like. So sorry Libba :(

AJ said...

I am also a Youth Services Librarian. I absolutely loved her Gemma Doyle trilogy. I didn't read the reviews of "Going Bovine" until after I started reading the book.

I will admit, the book is quite unusual. It is not my usual forte. I also wanted to throw the book at someone. I did finish it. I thought it was very good, yet depressing. I found myself trying to catch all of the references in it.

This book is not for the faint hearted. lol.

Kelly said...

I finally got around to reading this one, and it wasn't my thing either. I didn't really like Cameron through the first half, and I wasn't a huge fan of the "is it true or is it not?" aspect either.

I do love Libba Bray, though, so I'll read anything she writes!