Libba Bray’s Printz winning book pulls snippets from many other books I’ve read. the most obvious comparison is Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas (of Veronica Mar’s fame). Both books start with the premise of a teen boy smoking way too much pot and doing weird things. In Going Bovine, we meet Cameron, an under the radar weirdo whose about to start making a really big splash in the pool of weird.
Maybe weird things are a trend in young adult literature right now, because I sure have been reading a lot of books that would fall under that classification. But Going Bovine takes weird to a whole new level. It out the same “out there” level as ,Fade to Blue while still staying rooted in something the reader can connect to. I was never really clear what it was about Cameron that I did connect to. I didn’t really want to like him, but I did. And I wanted to go with him on his crazy adventure! Bray pulls her readers through the weird nonsense in a way that Fade to Blue failed to do. She combines humor with excitement for one wild ride.
In English class Cameron is resentfully studying Don Quixote. Little does he know that it will only be a matter of time before he is tilting at his own windmills. Even though this book is laced with drugs, language, and a touch of sex there is something about it that is unmistakably endearing. This isn’t just an adventure you with you were part of, Bray takes you with Cameron and Gonzo every step of the way.
And in the middle of his journey, Cameron even finds himself stumbling upon Utopia, where people make themselves happy by bowling! But if we’ve learned anything from Thomas Moore, the No Place of Utopia means this is no Utopia at all. The enemy of happiness? You guessed it, free thought. The vehicle for free thought, words. The Happy Utopia is over run by shouting revolutionaries headed by a leader reciting poetry.
“That, friend, is the beautiful sound of revolution.”
”Happiness is a fascist state!”
”I just don’t think happiness is a sustainable state. You can’t have it all the time.”
And the words of Hamlet;
”To be, or not to be—that is the question”
And that is just one taste of one moment of the adventures Cameron finds with his vertically challenged friend, Gonzo.
What makes this book so good?
Superb writing and knitting together of stories. You laugh while you turn the page and can't wait to find out what is going to happen next. Bray fully engrosses her reader, so it feels like you are in on the game, the story, the adventure, the whatever it is that is going on.
Are you ready for the challenge?