Going Bovine by Libba BrayGoing Bovine by Libba Bray

Going Bovine

byLibba Bray

Paperback | September 28, 2010

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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
Libba Bray is the New York Times bestselling author of the Gemma Doyle trilogy (A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, and The Sweet Far Thing); the Michael L. Printz Award-winning Going Bovine; Beauty Queens, an L.A. Times Book Prize finalist; and The Diviners series. She is originally from Texas but makes her home in Brooklyn, Ne...
Title:Going BovineFormat:PaperbackDimensions:496 pages, 8 × 5.19 × 1 inPublished:September 28, 2010Publisher:Random House Children's BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0385733984

ISBN - 13:9780385733984

Appropriate for ages: 13 - 17


Rated 5 out of 5 by from moo such a fun, captivating read filled with so much adventure i found the ending predictable but that did not take away from the enjoyment of the novel AT ALL i had so much fun with this book
Date published: 2018-03-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Fun Adventure This novel has a quirky plot that is sure to entertain the adventurous type. I felt very immersed in the book, as if I was taking part of the journey myself. The ending was not what I had expected and can lead to disappointed for some, or closure for others.
Date published: 2017-09-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Funny It's a funny over the top adventure book
Date published: 2017-07-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Funny It's a funny over the top adventure book
Date published: 2017-07-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Dont know what the others are talking about Going Bovine happened to be something that caught my eye on a bargain table and I thought, just by the title I am going to buy this book. I do not regret it, not a bit. This book was incredible! It was funny and entertaining and it kept my interest until the very end. Seeing others' negative reviews actually surprised me quite a lot! I thought the author was very original and bold with this book! Kudos!
Date published: 2017-02-24
Rated 2 out of 5 by from worst ending I would completely recommend all of Bray's other works; all but this one. huge headache to read and understand. AND THE ENDING WAS TERRIBLE
Date published: 2016-12-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I Loved It: But Not For Everyone Surrealism and zealous drug use is not everyone's cup of tea (I get that). But this dip into something that is either a dream or a mental breakdown is one of my favourite teenage adventures. It's main character embraces the absurdity that comes his way with the confusion and apathy one would expect from someone who is facing their death. His quest is less epic and more unlikely, and Bray's clear amusement with the whole situation comes out clearly. Beauty.
Date published: 2016-11-27
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Gave it the benefit of the doubt...shouldn't have. I've read Libba Bray's A Great and Terrible Beauty series, which fascinated me, as well as the Beauty Queen nove,l which made me laugh, and when i picked this book up I thought "Wow....sounds interesting." However I should have know better... This book was not fascinating and no where near as funny as Beauty Queens. I thought I was going to see how crazy it could be for someone who's brain was degrading but instead I got more of Bray's opinions on modern day society like that in Beauty Queens but the setting didn't fit her opinion so it all just seemed wrong. Bray takes shot after shot at youth entertainment mainly making fun of the television we watch, the things our generation find important, the people who idol, the resorts we vacation at and just about everything to do with our regular lives and makes it seem like the "loner" style teen/people are the ones who really understand this world. Then throw in some fire giants, physics (which Libba skirts around really explaining and somehow makes it seem like they really know what they are talking about), an angel, and Yard Gnome believed to me the Norse god Baulder, and you have me uninterested and disappointed. The sad thing was the book had such great potential in the beginning and actually had me interested and for that I had to read the remainder of the book, only to find the ending most disappointed where Bray tries to take a stab at Religions and what happens to us after death, which is a water that I think no one should dip their feet into unless under the right circumstance and with the right well written book. Not that this book was not well written. Don't get me wrong Libba Bray knows proper grammar and writing styles, and doesn't lead her readers on as she interrupts Cameron's adventures with a little glimpse behind the curtain to what is really happening with Cameron. And yes, there is no way that I can say truthfully that what happens in the book (the adventure that Cameron has) is not really what people imagine/think of when they have Mad Cow disease. People hallucinate ...I get that. And when they hallucinate they sometimes see some messed up things... I get that too, but somehow Bray seems to even stretch that. I took me two months to read this novel. I read the first half very fast within 48 hours then the second half was just too much for me but I had to see how she was going to end it and I did. I would have preferred to use my time reading another book instead of this. All and All not horrible just stretched and to much politics and opinion in a teen novel.
Date published: 2011-10-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Pretty Good! Cameron, your below average kid, was planning to just cruise through life under the radar. Why waste so much effort when we're all going to end up six feet under in the end? It isn't until one day when he finds out that he's diagnosed with a deadly disease that his whole view on the world is forced to change... And so begins his journey with a punk angel/hallucination, a dwarf, and a yard gnome. Also, physics. The good: THIS BOOK IS INSANE! I have honestly never read a book like this before in my life. It's a book about being alive, about experiencing all that you can with everything that you are. It's about opening your mind to new ideas, about thinking outside the box, about imagining beyond the normal realms of physics. It's also about friendship, love, and hope. The writing itself is very upbeat, though it knows how to be dark when it wants to be. It's whimsical, though it balances itself out by the use of real physics theories. The plot is great, and gives you a lot to think about. The bad: THIS BOOK IS INSANE! The first 76 pages were dull and uninspiring. For a book that promised adventure, it sure took its sweet time. But when the action does start, the book literally pushes your face to the ground in its hurry to show you the cool parts of the book. I don't mean that the book had a rushed pace - I mean that it throws about a million physics theories at you and pretty much goes, "You don't have to understand it... Just run with it!" I understood most of the theories since I took theoretical physics, but everyone else is going to be lost, and that's a big shame. You don't NEED to understand the physics to enjoy the book, but you'll have to pretty much turn off your brain when you get to the physics parts, because the book will not explain much to you - and unfortunately, the physics takes up a lot of the book. Physicists will get the full impact of this book. For everyone else, turn off your brain and enjoy the ride.
Date published: 2011-06-21
Rated 2 out of 5 by from well then.... This book was okay. I liked the beginning few chapters but the book its self was not that good. I liked the humor used when talking about the strange person's music, but other than that.... I didn't like it. It is completely random, the ending is horrible, and I don't get the plot. This isn't even close to her other books. I would not recommend this book to a friend.
Date published: 2010-11-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Awesomely originally random! Cameron just wants to get through high school being invisible, smoking weed and listening to his Great Trembelo records. Everything turns around when he gets diagnosed with CJ (mad cow disease) and gets sent on a mission by the angel Dulcie to save the universe along with his dwarf sidekick. This has got to be the most RANDOM book I have ever read. The road trip had the most random events occur that you would never expect! Some of the things mentioned in this book were: Disneyworld, parallel universes, fire giants, mardi gras, YA TV! ( a tv station like MTV), Physics, magic screws, viking gods/gnomes. I have to say that I did really like this book. It was so different from anything Ive ever read. It had funny dialogues and the road trip journey really had me so into book. Out of the characters I really loved Balder, he just won my heart over. I also liked how Cameron's character grows throughout the book. The ending definitely had me thinking A LOT! Overall a very very interesting read. If the plot isn't enough to get you to read the book, I suggest you still pick it up because I guarantee you will never read anything like this..ever!
Date published: 2010-08-13
Rated 3 out of 5 by from One Wild Road Trip Reason for Reading: I enjoyed Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle books so was up for reading whatever she wrote next. Summary: The book starts of with Cameron, your typical slacker 16-year-old living in a family that has drifted into typical modern, busy, note-leaving suburbanites, while he and his popular younger sister are at that stage where they hate each other at home and she pretends he don't exist outside of the house. Since Cameron often does strange things it isn't easily noticeable when he first starts showing strange behaviour, yelling out at hallucinations and twitching. Not until he has a major seizure at school and is taken to the hospital do the doctor's start their weeks long testing and it is diagnosed that Cameron has Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (often referred to as the human form of mad cow disease). It is at this point that Cameron is visited by a punk angel, and sent on a road trip with his hospital room mate, a hypochondriac teen dwarf. Thus starts their surreal, hallucinogenic, out of this world journey across the States which has them visiting a happiness cult, picking up a yard gnome who think he is a Viking god, meeting a dead New Orleans jazz player, playing weird TV game shows, being chased down by the snow globe corporation and meeting up with a group of scientists who are on the verge of parallel world travel. This is the tip of the iceberg. Comments: What can I say? The book is very well written and one wild ride from start to finish. There is plenty of humour, the events are so out there that everything is surreal. Written in the first person of Cameron, the reader knows from the outset that we have an unreliable narrator. Cameron will tell us the hallucinations he is having then he tells us the 'real' strange things he sees. What is reality? The book's whole purpose seems to be to examine death. The process of knowing you are to die soon, how you handle that knowledge. When do you start living? Is it ever too late to start living? What is living anyway? What happens at the end? There are no spiritual connections made and for me that made the examination process fall flat and ultimately meaningless. However you may reach a different conclusion. Even though the book's message didn't hit home with me, I enjoyed the road trip (mostly) for what it was, a lot of eccentric characters and crazy events. There does come a time in the story though when everything suddenly became clear and from that point on I felt the book was longer than it needed to be. The charade kept being played and the hints kept being dropped to the point of frustration for this reader. I would have liked to have seen more of the family's reactions, feelings and coping during this time that Cameron was away. Finally, the language in the book is very vulgar and I found that hugely off-putting though I do realize it was realistic of the characters. Ultimately, I did have some problems with the story and some other issues with some of the content that I would rather have done without but it certainly is an entertaining story. I enjoyed the characters of Gonzo, the Mexican dwarf, and Balder, the Viking garden gnome the best. I couldn't put the book down and read it quickly over the weekend. This book isn't going to appeal to everyone, and it is not anything like the author's Gemma Doyle books, but if the strange, phantasmagoric and surreal appeal to you then this may be right up your alley.
Date published: 2010-03-10
Rated 2 out of 5 by from ...What? This book was trying too hard. Trying too hard to be funny, too hard to be relatable, too hard to make sense. Okay, scratch the last one: this book made no sense at all. And that's a shame, because it had promise. When Libba Bray wasn't trying too hard, there were passages of utter brilliance. Coincidentally, most of these passages contained no dialogue and contained no mention of the characters. Hmmm. Some may argue that the nonsensical way in which events unroll contribute to the book's charm. And yeah, I can see that. But the author tok it too far. It's like she wanted to write the most random book (honestly, THE MOST RANDOM BOOK) possible and figured that she could get away with it by making the main character have mad-cow disease and for most of the book to be a hallucination. The randomness is no accident, as contradictory as that seems. If you read it (I'm not suggesting that you do) you will see that this is absolutely true. Though very few of the strings of the story are tied up by the end, the only question you'll be asking yourself is, "What did I just read?'
Date published: 2009-12-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I LOVE THIS BOOK! This book was funny, romantic, daring, and surprising! I laughed at many times, and I was shocked too. I really enjoyed the Gemma Doyle series by the same author, so I had to read this book and I'm glad I did! I think you should get this book, but it does have curse words, and kissing and some sex. But other then that, you should really read this book!
Date published: 2009-11-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from From Hilarious to Heatwarming I absolutely loved Going Bovine! It was hilarious, heartwarming and one hell of a journey. Bray's trademark style has transformed itself into the life of Cameron, who is diagnosed with mad cow disease and finds hope for a cure from Dulcie, an angel with a bad sugar habit so he sets off with Gonzo, his dwarf friend across the country to find the cure. From smoothie drinking happiness cults to hitch-hiker thiefs, nothing is ordinary anymore!
Date published: 2009-10-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A road trip worth taking Bray concocts a world where parallel universes are not only plausible, but exist or maybe not…it all depends on what you choose through door number one. Where Angels can wear dock martins and eat candy and Lawn Gnomes can be Gods. From the ridiculous to the mundane, she pushes us to read and question and determine if what we are reading is reality, or, is it just something in Cameron’s mad cow diseased mind…and you never really quite know. This is definitely one of my top picks for teens this fall.
Date published: 2009-09-22

Read from the Book

CHAPTER ONEIn Which I Introduce MyselfThe best day of my life happened when I was five and almost died at Disney World.I’m sixteen now, so you can imagine that’s left me with quite a few days of major suckage.Like Career Day? Really? Do we need to devote an entire six hours out of the high school year to having “life counselors” tell you all the jobs you could potentially blow at? Is there a reason for dodgeball? Pep rallies? Rad soda commercials featuring Parker Day’s smug, fake-tanned face? I ask you.But back to the best day of my life, Disney, and my near-death experience.I know what you’re thinking: WTF? Who dies at Disney World? It’s full of spinning teacups and magical princesses and big-assed chipmunks walking around waving like it’s absolutely normal for jumbo-sized stuffed animals to come to life and pose for photo ops. Like, seriously.I don’t remember a whole lot about it. Like I said, I was five. I do remember that it was hot. Surreal hot. The kind of hot that makes people shell out their life savings for a bottle of water without even bitching about it. Even the stuffed animals started looking less like smiling, playful woodland creatures and more like furry POWs on a forced march through Toonland. That’s how we ended up on the subterranean It’s a Small World ride and how I nearly bit it at the place where America goes for fun.I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced the Small World ride. If so, you can skip this next part. Honestly, you won’t hurt my feelings, and I won’t tell the other people reading this what an asshole you are the minute you go into the other room.Where was I?Oh, right—so much we share, time aware, small world. After all.So. Small World ride, brief sum-up: Long-ass wait in incredibly slow-moving line. Then you’re put into this floating barge and set adrift on a river that winds through a smiling underworld of animatronic kids from every country on the planet singing along in their various native tongues to the extremely catchy, upbeat song.Did I mention it’s about a ten-minute ride?Of the same song?In English, Spanish, Swahili, and Japanese?I’m not going to lie to you; I loved it. Dude, I said to myself, this is the shit. Or something like that in five-year-old speak. I want to live in this new Utopia of singing children of all nations. With luck, the Mexican kids will let me wear their que festivo sombreros. And the smiling Swedes will welcome me into their happy Nordic hoedown. Välkommen, y’all. I will ride the pink fuzzy camel in some vaguely defined Middle Eastern country (but the one with pink fuzzy camels) and shake a leg with the can-can dancers in Gay Paree.Bonjour.Bienvenido.Guten Tag.Jambo.I was with the three people who were my world—Mom, Dad, my twin sister, Jenna—and for one crazy moment, we were all laughing and smiling and sharing the same experience, and it was good. Maybe it was too good. Because I started to get scared.I don’t know exactly how I made the connection, but right around Iceland, apparently, I got the idea that this was the after?life. Sure, I had heatstroke and had eaten enough sugar to induce coma, but really, it makes sense in a weird way. It’s dark. It’s creepy. And suddenly, everybody’s getting along a little too well, singing the same song. Or maybe it had to do with my mom. She used to teach English classics, heavy on the mythology, at the university B.C. (Before Children) and liked to pepper her bedtime stories with occasional bits about Valhalla or Ovid or the River Styx leading to the underworld and other cheery sweet-dreams matter. We’re a fun crew. You should see us on holidays.Whatever it was, I was convinced that this ride was where you went to die. I would be separated from my family forever and end up in some part of the underworld where smiling kid robots in boater hats sang nonstop in Portuguese. I had to keep that from happening. And then—O Happy Day! Salvation! Right behind the Eskimo igloo (this was before they were the more politically correct but slightly naughty-sounding Inuits), I saw this little door.“Mommy, where does that door go to?” I asked.“I don’t know, honey.”We were headed for certain death on the River Styx. But somehow I knew that if I could just get to that little door, everything would be okay. I could stop the ride and save us all. That was pretty much it for me. My five-year-old freak-out meter totally tripped. I slipped free of the seat and splashed into the fishy-smelling water, away from the doe-eyed, pinafored girl puppet singing, “En värld full av skratt, en värld av tårar” (Swedish, I’m told, for “It’s a world of laughter, a world of tears”).The thing is, I didn’t know how to swim yet. But apparently, I was pretty good at sinking. You know that warning about how kids can drown in very little water? Quite true if the kid panics and forgets to close his mouth. You can imagine my surprise when the water hit my lungs and I did not immediately start singing, “There’s so much that we share.”The last thing I remember before I started to lose consciousness was my mom screaming to stop the ride while crushing Jenna to her chest in case she got the urge to jump too. Above me, lights and sound blended into a wavy distortion, everything muted like a carnival heard from a mile away. And then I had the weirdest thought: They’re stopping the ride. I got them to stop the ride.I don’t remember a whole lot after that, just fuzzy memo?ries filled in by other people’s memories. The story goes that my dad dove in and pulled me out, dropping me right beside the igloo, and administered CPR. Official Disney cast members scampered out along the narrow edge of EskimoSoontoBeInuit-land, yammering into their walkie-talkies that the situation was under control. Slack-jawed tourists snapped pictures. An official Disney ambulance came and whisked me away to an ER, where I was pronounced pukey but okay. We went back to the park for free—I guess they were afraid we’d sue—and I got to go on the rides as much as I wanted without waiting in line at all because everybody was just so glad I was alive. It was the best vacation we ever took. Of course, I think it was also the last vacation we ever took.It was Mom who tried to get the answers out of me later, once Jenna had fallen asleep and Dad was nursing his nerves with a vodka tonic, courtesy of the hotel’s minibar. I was sitting in the bathtub with the nonskid flower appliqués on the bottom. It had taken two shampoos to get the flotsam and jetsam of a small world out of my hair.“Cameron,” she asked, pulling me onto her lap for a vigorous towel-drying. “Why did you jump into the water, honey? Did the ride scare you?”I didn’t know how to answer her, so I just nodded. All the adrenaline I’d felt earlier seemed to pool in my limbs, weighing me down.“Oh, honey, you know it’s not real, don’t you? It’s just a ride.”“Just a ride,” I repeated, and felt it sink in deep.The thing is, before they pulled me out, everything had seemed made of magic. Like I really believed in this crazy dream. But the minute I came to on the hard, glittery, spray-painted, fake snow and saw that marionette boy pulling the same plastic fish out of the hole again and again, I realized it was all a big fake. The realest thing I’d ever experienced was that moment under the water when I almost died.And in a way, I’ve been dying ever since.From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

"Libba Bray not only breaks the mold of the ubiquitous dying-teenager genre—she smashes it and grinds the tiny pieces into the sidewalk. For the record, I'd go anywhere she wanted to take me."—The New York Times"Offer this to fans of Douglas Adams's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy seeking more inspired lunacy."—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review "An unforgettable, nearly indefinable fantasy . . . wholly unique, ambitious, tender, thought-provoking, and often fall-off-the-chair funny."—Booklist, Starred Review"Readers will have a great time."—The Horn Book"It's a trip worth taking."—SLJ"Here's one book about dying that has a wicked sense of humor."—The Denver Post"A laugh-out-loud tear-jerking fantastical voyage into the meaning of what is real in life."—VOYA"A very messed-up book, but in a good way. . . .Hilarious, random, surreal and thought-provoking."—Guys Lit WireOne of Entertainment Weekly's 8 Great Road-Trip Books*Winner of the Michael L. Printz Award A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the YearAn Indie Next PickA Booklist Books for Youth Editors' ChoiceAn ALA Best Book for Young AdultsA Chicago Public Library Best of the Best bookA New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age