Hardcover, 480 pages
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Can Cameron find what he’s looking for?
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 picked up Going Bovine because I wanted to see why it won the Printz Award. Now I’m not really knowledgeable about the said award-giving body or its criteria. In fact, this book is the first Printz awardee that I’ve read but even so, I’ve always thought that covers with the golden Printz sticker looked fancy and honestly, I have high regards for books that wear it. So, after reading the book, did I think that Going Bovine is deserving of any such award?
Let me tell you first hand that I don’t know jack about writing novels so I’m gonna leave that to those who do
sorrynotsorry, but if I were to describe Going Bovine in one word, it would be trippy. Like bruh, reaaaal trippy.
Cameron gets diagnosed with Mad Cow Disease/Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in which the bacteria eat away the brain until it turns into mush (sponge) and this right here is where Cam’s journey began.
”Go on insane road trips dictated by personal ads in tabloids. Search for fugitive, time-traveling doctors. Evade the cops. Steal money from low-rent druggies. Fight beings from parallel worlds.”
Also, meet a punk rock angel, a garden gnome who’s actually a son of Odin, be a wanted man, be on a TV game show, get chased by a snowglobe manufacturing company, see your favourite band get sucked in by a vortex…
Everything just seemed like a random clusterfreak of events that I had an awful lot of hard time trying to keep my mouth closed because the book called for my jaw to drop. Every. Single. Time. Seriously, you can’t convince me that Bray wasn’t high on something when she wrote this book if not, then I give her a round of slow claps because this IS good.
Granted, I already knew Going Bovine was gonna be good as soon as I read the first paragraph and even though I still can’t wrap my head around Cam’s journey, I still enjoyed it – because believe me, however fun Cam’s trip is, the most important part here is the end where everything is going to make sense. I really hope that anyone who’s reading this review and is planning to read the book does not get turned off by the lack of sense and the clear bias Cam gets in every trouble he gets himself and his buddies into because trust me, you’ll find all the justice in the ending but I’m also telling you now that it’s going to be bittersweet. :(
As for the characters, I don’t think Cam is one of the most likeable male characters in the world of YA but he is very relatable. Heck I’m a girl and I can understand his character very well. He’s a very realistic portrayal of a teenage boy: horny and annoying. But don’t worry because he undergoes some tremendous character growth that by the time the story ended, I was proud of him. Proud, but sad. The other characters really didn’t make an impact on me and all the time I felt like they were contrived, though I realize after reading the book that this is not really the author’s fault because we see people based on who we are and not who they are if that even makes sense to those who haven't read this yet, but even so, I didn’t enjoy these characters much.
My favourite part though: the ending. I can’t say that it’s never been done before but I know that it’s not usually what happens in the same situation and I was very surprised when all the nonsense suddenly clicked into place. Thinking back, all the signs were there during Cam’s adventure but his situation forced me to see things at a different angle and Bray’s execution of that is so wonderfully done that I’m actually glad I wasn’t paying too much attention.