Friday, May 21, 2010

"Don't Hurt Your Happiness" on This Ride!

Recommended for grades 10 to 12, especially boys

2010 Michael L. Printz Award Winner

Epic fantasy or all just a hallucination? That’s what I started to wonder while reading Going Bovine by Libba Bray (Random House). The novel centers on Cameron, a self-absorbed 16-year-old who doesn’t try (aka slacker). One third of the way into the book Cameron finds out he has “mad cow” disease and soon afterwards is admitted to the hospital. The next thing you know, with the suggestion from a punk angel, Dulcie, he has run away from the hospital with a classmate, Gonzo, on a search for Dr. X, who can help save Cameron and the world.

This is where the novel goes haywire, but in a strangely good way. Dr. X has brought “dark matter” back with him when he traveled through the space time continuum and now this “dark matter,” in the form of the Dark Wizard and Fire Giants, wants to destroy the world (of course!). Cameron and Gonzo go on a road trip guided by Dulcie who suggests they use “signs” (many in the form of ads and tabloids) to find their way. The novel is a coming of age story that asks the question “why are we here?” and at the same time almost cheering “L’Chaim” (To Life!).

Bray does a really good job of writing the psyche of a 16 year old “not it” high school boy. I cheered for Cameron, laughed with him, was upset with him, and connected (or found amusing) to all the little one liner philosophies expressed throughout the book. This novel is a tribute to individuality, music, gnomes, Don Quixote, fanatics (the Disney and Star Wars kind), life, and the many roadblocks along the way. Book does have bad language, drug and alcohol use, and some non-explicit sexual content.

Check out the funny Libba Bray talking about Going Bovine!

(from RandomBooks Between the Covers)

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