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