Going Bovine

Going Bovine

eBook - 2009
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From the author of the Gemma Doyle trilogy and The Diviners series, this groundbreaking New York Times bestseller and winner of the Michael L. Printz Award for literary excellence is "smart, funny, and layered," raves Entertainment Weekly.
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.
From acclaimed author Libba Bray comes a dark comedic journey that poses the questions: Why are we here? What is real? What makes microwave popcorn so good? Why must we die? And how do we really learn to live?
"A hilarious and hallucinatory quest."—The New York Times
"Sublimely surreal."—People
"Libba Bray's fabulous new book will, with any justice, be a cult classic. The kind of book you take with you to college, in the hopes that your roommate will turn out to have packed their own copy, too. Reading it is like discovering an alternate version of The Phantom Tollbooth, where Holden Caulfield has hit Milo over the head and stolen his car, his token, and his tollbooth. There's adventure and tragedy here, a sprinkling of romance, musical interludes, a battle-ready yard gnome who's also a Norse God, and practically a chorus line of physicists. Which reminds me: will someone, someday, take Going Bovine and turn it into a musical, preferably a rock opera? I want the sound track, the program, the T-shirt, and front row tickets."—Kelly Link, author of Get in Trouble, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize
Publisher: Random House Children's Books


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Dec 26, 2019

My first foray into "Weird Fiction." The book keeps a fast pace and I sped through it faster than I expected. Confusing at times but also funny and very inventive. It was a good choice as distraction from the holidays.

Apr 02, 2019

The funniest book ever to rip out my heart. I loved everything about this surreal road trip of a novel, from characters to pacing to the crushing blow of the end that you see coming- and the one you don't.

Dec 19, 2018

It’s impossible to describe in words how Going Bovine made me feel. It is one of the best books I have ever read, from my favourite author, Libba Bray. This novel was so thought provoking and many teens would probably find it easy to relate to, with accurate depictions of high school and teens. I found it difficult to put this book down until I finished it and thought for a very long time about what on earth I just read. I would not recommend this book to anyone who does not enjoy books which involve lots of thinking, and I found that the plot of this book is mostly based on how you choose to interpret it. I fell in love with this book and think that many people, teens or adults, would enjoy it as well. I give this book a rating of 10/10 stars. @bookaholic of the Hamilton Public Library Teen Review Board

Libba Bray is definitely my favourite author- everything she writes is witty, creative, weird, insightful, thrilling and unlike anything you’ve ever read before. This book is no exception, it is probably the strangest book I have ever read, but that’s what I love about it. Going Bovine is such a strange and creative story but it is very well-written and keeps you constantly wondering what’s going to happen next. Every part of the plot seems so unexpected so the reader never knows what to expect. I would recommend this book to any teens or adults who like to laugh, think and be surprised while they are reading. 5/5. @Bookworm123 of The Hamilton Public Library's Teen Review Board

Aug 24, 2015

Going Bovine is great story told in the form of a fantastic and energetic road trip. I really enjoyed reading this book.

Aug 21, 2015

“Going Bovine” follows a teenage boy named Cameron Smith who was recently diagnosed with Mad Cow Disease. After being admitted to the hospital, Cameron befriends Gonzo, a death-obsessed teenage boy with dwarfism, and Dulcie, a punk rock angel addicted to candy. Dulcie tells Cameron that huge fire gods are going to consume the Earth, and that it is his job to stop them and close the portal they came through. With nothing left to lose (he is dying after all), Cameron breaks out of the hospital with Gonzo in tow, and the two of them set off to save the world. Along the way they encounter a variety of odd people and even odder situations, including a Norse God posing as a yard gnome and a cult obsessed with happiness.

“Going Bovine” is an incredibly strange yet enjoyable novel. The characters are each unique and interesting – no one in this novel is a copy over of another character. Each character also has their own set of skills and faults, making them seem realistic even if they very clearly aren’t. The settings (there are many) are each ludicrous yet believable, and the plot is bizarre and definitely never-before-seen. Despite its complete oddball-ness, the plot of “Going Bovine” is enjoyable and captivating. While it does drag in some spots, the action scenes make up for the slow parts, and the overall effect of the storyline is one of awe.

Overall, the author of this review recommends “Going Bovine”. While it is a very, very strange novel (it is unlike author Libba Bray’s other books), it is still entertaining and endearing. This book has a variety of deeper meanings and symbols, and could possibly be used as a ‘book talk’ or essay book. The author of this review believes “Going Bovine” to be suitable for ages fifteen and up.

Aug 02, 2014

I thought this was going to be an easy going road trip book, something to easily spend my free time reading, but boy was I underestimating it.

Going bovine was one of the best books I've ever read. It has everything a great book needs; contemplation of existence, a mission to save the world, good music and a handful of memorable characters.

I recommend this to anyone, maybe over 14 because it does include violent scenes and sexual content.

fried0076 Dec 04, 2013


Sep 18, 2013

Really weird and not really my usual style of book, even though it is pretty ingenious to write from the perspective of the deteriorating brain. If you are a Terry Pratchett type of person, this will be right up your alley.

Aug 07, 2013

It's not a surprise that I loved this book, given what a fan of Libba Bray's writing I am. But I was a bit surprised at the emotional impact this tale packed. It's hard to describe- part coming-of-age, part social satire, part straight fiction, but all humor and cheek. I won't deny it- I cried during this book. I also put it down and thought about the big-picture questions a few times. I also stayed up way too late, many nights in a row, in order to read "just one more chapter".
This is definitely a new favorite.

Jul 02, 2013

At its heart, Libba Bray's book Going Bovine is a road trip novel. From missed busses and a purchased junk car to drunken college kids to convenience store hijinks to a major theme park, this story touches all the bases. And yet, the backstory of terminal diseases, wormholes, destiny and the fate of the universe give it more than the average road trip.

Cameron Smith is diagnosed with Bovine Spongeform Encephalitis, also known as Mad Cow disease. Unfortunately, this doesn't happen until chapter 16. While some backstory is important, I believe this novel took way too much time in the lead up - it felt very slow. Some brief flashbacks occurred in the story, and would have been a better way to build Cameron's character. Leading to that change-over are an increase in appearances of the Punk Angel Dulcie, and an unfortunate decrease in Don Quixote references. This latter is unfortunate - I found this a nice tie in between the characters (even if it was layed on a bit thick in the early chapters). After this, the pacing of the escape from the hospital and the road trip were just about right. Individual elements were well described, and the whole thing seemed remotely believable. Bizarre occurrences and strange dreams lead a Life on Mars feel to this story. The end felt a little rushed and muddled - I see the points that were being made, and with proper ambiguity, but it didn't hang together well. Better editing, fewer flashbacks - not sure. The character of Dulcie, so crucial to Cameron in the middle stages, basically vanishes. A few pop culture items are created for this book, such as Rad XL soda, and the band The Copenhagen Interpretation (a reference to the scientific theory of parallel worlds). For other pop culture bits, the author has chosen to substitute a false set instead of referencing the existing - instead of quoting Star Wars, the characters quote Star Fighters. Libba Bray said the book was "about poking a little fun at modern life and pop culture" - perhaps this was the reason for the made up memes. Is it Science Fiction? There is wormhole travel (through space and time) and supernatural events. Missing are science technology, aliens and other sci-fi props. Definitely more adventure than sci-fi or fantasy. In summary, I found this book to be a decent road trip, but really slow to get going and somewhat misdirected at the end. I would like to read another book by Libba Bray to get a better sense of her authorship, but I am afraid that "Going Bovine" measures in at just under four stars. (Jun 19-29)

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black_otter_13 Jul 10, 2012

black_otter_13 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Mar 30, 2011

firedark60 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

allamericanexpatriate Mar 07, 2011

allamericanexpatriate thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over


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Jun 29, 2016

Modern epic following a teenage boy on his quest to figure out the point of living. Witty and emotional, this book is full to the brim with wacky characters and even more wild adventures.
Follow Cameron on his search for the cure.


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allamericanexpatriate Mar 07, 2011

Coarse Language: This title contains Coarse Language.


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JewelMcLatchy Mar 05, 2012

"Who the heck is Don Quicks-oat?"

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