Going Bovine

(2009)
Going Bovine book cover

When Cameron is diagnosed with Mad Cow disease his life changes drastically. No longer is he the social pariah shunned by his twin sister, nor is he an embarrassment to his parents. The school he hates puts on a pep rally especially for him that he gets to watch on his living room television, just before he passes out and is taken to the hospital. 

I’ve skipped over a few points, like how Cameron’s been terrorized by giant beings made of fire and stalked by a punk-rock angel. Dulcie, the angel, catches up with him in the hospital and explains that he is needed to fight the fire giants by locating one Dr. X, who also happens to be the only person who can cure him. 

But he can't go alone. He must convince his hospital roommate and fellow student Gonzo to go with him. Gonzo is a hypochondriac be-afro'd dwarf who inevitably joins Cameron on his travels to New Orleans and on into Florida. Along the way, they meet a jazz trumpet legend, a group of scientists trying to break into parallel universes, a happiness cult, a garden gnome statue who claims to be the Norse god Baldur who's been trapped in statue form by Loki, and others. All the while, they are pursued by the authorities, the fire giants, and a snow globe manufacturer’s division of bounty hunters. 

Libba Bray writes a hilarious story and does so with some serious talent. It's fantastic to see some of the repeated images in the adventure, understand their connection to Cameron, and know what's really happening to him. I truly appreciate her decision not to trick the reader or take an easy way out—you’ll have to read the book to understand what I mean here, as I’m verging on giving too much away as it is.

I think most teens and many adults would enjoy this story--I certainly know teens who will laugh at the random caroming of the plot and sometimes bizarre humor of this story. Drug and alcohol use, plus some profanity, may lead gentler readers to abandon the story, but others are likely to find it as much fun to read as I did.

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