Title: Going Bovine
Author: Libba Bray
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
If you've read Libba Bray's A Great and Terrible Beauty trilogy and loved them, don't come knocking at Going Bovine's door, expecting the same thing. "Bovine" is one wild, trippy ride with a kid who's mental state is constantly in question, and makes you question every event, from beginning to end, while at the same time making you feel some very strong (generally positive) emotions towards lawn gnomes/Norse gods, video gaming little people, Inuit rock bands, and quantum physics. The general idea with this book, you see, is that Cameron Smith has been diagnosed with mad cow disease (they use some fancy Latin term for a while, but I don't remember what it was--basically it's mad cow disease). He's then assigned the mission to save the world from dark matter which has been released by the mysterious Dr. X, who, coincidentally, is the only one who can cure Cameron.
I really enjoyed this book. One, because I love Libba Bray's writing. Regardless of what mode she's writing in (19th century girl mode or 21st century boy mode), it's genuine. She is able to create really strong voice and makes her characters sound pretty authentic. I seriously believe that the adolescent boy is probably the hardest voice to pin down and it can be really butchered, but Bray does a pretty good job pulling it off. Sometimes it's a bit of a stretch, in my opinion, but for the most part I appreciate what she does. The real problem, however, is that the character she's created isn't always likable. In the beginning I'm not Cameron's biggest fan, and Bray has to work really hard to get me, as the reader, to like him. But she does, and I think that's a mark of a good story.
That said, this book, in some ways, requires a rather specific interest set. I love all things kooky quantum physics and there is quite a lot in this book. It actually makes the ending sort of confusing and leaves you hanging in the sense that you're not exactly sure what just happened. I put the book down after I finished the other night and was all, "What just happened here?" That's maybe my biggest complaint about the whole book, the confusion I felt at the end and through other parts of the book, because you really do have a difficult discerning what's real and what's not. So, that, and the profanity bothered me. I have a very high tolerance for naughty language (having an embarrassingly huge potty mouth myself, though no one would know this unless they lived with me), but at points I felt like the language was unnecessary. I understand the desire to be authentic, and Bray was in a lot of ways, and teenagers do swear...a lot in some cases, but at times I felt like it could take way from the dialogue.
Comparable Reads: I kind of went over this in the Punkzilla entry, so you can check back there for some similar reads.
Who This Book is For: I've realized in making these very generalized "recommendations" could be construed as putting groups of people into specific groups--that's not what I'm trying to do. Any sort of person, kid or adult, could get into any of the books I've posted about. When I try to frame the kind of person who might be into whatever book I've written about, I'm doing just that. This is one person who would be interested, maybe, in this book. If you feel like you identify with this person, or know someone who might, then, well, go pick this book up. You might like it! Just sayin'.
Kids who like kooky stuff, would probably dig this book. Like, that off-beat, music loving, sort of punk/wanna-be counter-culture kid (or grown-up). I think that Cameron is pretty relate-able in the sense that, at the beginning of the book he's sort of floating through life and isn't really sure about what he wants, and that sense of...not being lost, but of just not being sure, is a very familiar feeling for a lot of teens.