Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Going Bovine Review

                When I started reading Going Bovine by Libba Bray, winner of the Michael L. Printz Award, I was super excited. The description on the inside of the book made it sound awesome:
                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.
                I know, it sounds awesome, but trust me, it wasn’t at all.
                Basically the story is about a kid who slacks off and is usually high from smoking pot in the school bathroom. Then he finds out he’s got the human version of mad cow disease which makes him go crazy. Then an “angel” named Dulcie (this is a reference to Dulcinea from Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes, which Cameron is supposedly reading in the beginning of the book) comes and tells him that if he finds some guy named Dr. X, he’ll be cured.
                So then he goes on this weird, drug-induced adventure to New Orleans then to Daytona Beach, and then to Disney World where it ends in a weird, unsatisfying climax.
                Even though it was weird, this book was really funny at times. Balder, the yard gnome, is the awesomest dude ever. But the character of Cameron aggravated me in the same way all of the other modern literary Holden Caulfield wanna-be characters aggravate me. His character was boring and got incredibly annoying. I kind of wanted to punch him the entire way through.
                The writing, however, was extremely engaging, while sometimes abrupt. But the curt deliverance was realistic and it fit the story well. Libba Bray’s writing style is very direct and dry which is both amusing and engaging.
                However, despite that the clever wordsmithing was refreshing, I think that the author’s view on life is quite tragic and the very end of the book is full of one-liners that are meant to sound profound but just end up sounding like she’s trying too hard to get her point across. Like when Cameron asks Dulcie if everything he went through was real and she replies with:

                “Who’s to say what’s real and what’s not?”

                Honestly. Like I haven’t heard that one before.
                I really hate it when authors have to come right out and say what the main ideas of the story were. I think books used to have ideas and thought provoking concepts that were portrayed through the story itself and became the very essence of the story such as A Tale of Two Cities, Hamlet, and The Catcher in the Rye. Literary genius and wordsmithing is now replaced by cliché ideas that have to be spelled out in order for the readers to understand.
                I wouldn’t recommend this book at all. Despite its overall tediousness, there was quite a lot of impropriety and vulgarity which got extremely tiresome.
                Hopefully the next book I read will be better. Any suggestions for books I should read in the future?


Lizzy said...

You should try
"The King's Shadow" by Elizabeth Alder and "Christy," by Catherine Marshall. Both books are wonderful = D I own the King's Shadow if you want to read it. I wish I owned Christy! Lol.

Zack said...

You should read "Liar" by Justine Larbalestier, "The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks" and "Psych Major Syndrome" by Alicia Thomson, if you haven't already.

Loraine said...

I like your review :D Here's mine if you don't mind:

Thanks and have a nice day!