Going Bovine

Bray, Libba

Book - 2009
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
Going Bovine
In an attempt to find a cure after being diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob's (aka mad cow) disease, Cameron Smith, a disaffected sixteen-year-old boy, sets off on a road trip with a death-obsessed video gaming dwarf he meets in the hospital.

Publisher: New York : Delacorte Press, c2009
Edition: 1st Trade pbk. ed
ISBN: 0385733984
Branch Call Number: FIC B
Characteristics: xii, 480 p. ; 21 cm.


From Library Staff

The title is a big clue...sixteen year old Cameron Smith - already a disaffected teenager - is further impacted by his diagnosis of Creutzfeldt-Jakob's (aka mad cow) disease. What follows is either Cameron's descent into madness - or the coolest Don Quixonte inspired road trip ever.

A Norse God, a punk rock angel and an angry Hispanic dwarf accompany Cameron on a cross-country quest to find a cure for a fatal illness and maybe save the universe.

From the critics

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Aug 02, 2014
  • Readalot_123 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

I thought this was going to be an easy going road trip book, something to easily spend my free time reading, but boy was I underestimating it.

Going bovine was one of the best books I've ever read. It has everything a great book needs; contemplation of existence, a mission to save the world, good music and a handful of memorable characters.

I recommend this to anyone, maybe over 14 because it does include violent scenes and sexual content.

Dec 04, 2013
  • fried0076 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.


Sep 18, 2013
  • dprodrig rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Really weird and not really my usual style of book, even though it is pretty ingenious to write from the perspective of the deteriorating brain. If you are a Terry Pratchett type of person, this will be right up your alley.

Aug 07, 2013
  • artemishi rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

It's not a surprise that I loved this book, given what a fan of Libba Bray's writing I am. But I was a bit surprised at the emotional impact this tale packed. It's hard to describe- part coming-of-age, part social satire, part straight fiction, but all humor and cheek. I won't deny it- I cried during this book. I also put it down and thought about the big-picture questions a few times. I also stayed up way too late, many nights in a row, in order to read "just one more chapter".
This is definitely a new favorite.

Jul 02, 2013
  • thomd rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

At its heart, Libba Bray's book Going Bovine is a road trip novel. From missed busses and a purchased junk car to drunken college kids to convenience store hijinks to a major theme park, this story touches all the bases. And yet, the backstory of terminal diseases, wormholes, destiny and the fate of the universe give it more than the average road trip.

Cameron Smith is diagnosed with Bovine Spongeform Encephalitis, also known as Mad Cow disease. Unfortunately, this doesn't happen until chapter 16. While some backstory is important, I believe this novel took way too much time in the lead up - it felt very slow. Some brief flashbacks occurred in the story, and would have been a better way to build Cameron's character. Leading to that change-over are an increase in appearances of the Punk Angel Dulcie, and an unfortunate decrease in Don Quixote references. This latter is unfortunate - I found this a nice tie in between the characters (even if it was layed on a bit thick in the early chapters). After this, the pacing of the escape from the hospital and the road trip were just about right. Individual elements were well described, and the whole thing seemed remotely believable. Bizarre occurrences and strange dreams lead a Life on Mars feel to this story. The end felt a little rushed and muddled - I see the points that were being made, and with proper ambiguity, but it didn't hang together well. Better editing, fewer flashbacks - not sure. The character of Dulcie, so crucial to Cameron in the middle stages, basically vanishes. A few pop culture items are created for this book, such as Rad XL soda, and the band The Copenhagen Interpretation (a reference to the scientific theory of parallel worlds). For other pop culture bits, the author has chosen to substitute a false set instead of referencing the existing - instead of quoting Star Wars, the characters quote Star Fighters. Libba Bray said the book was "about poking a little fun at modern life and pop culture" - perhaps this was the reason for the made up memes. Is it Science Fiction? There is wormhole travel (through space and time) and supernatural events. Missing are science technology, aliens and other sci-fi props. Definitely more adventure than sci-fi or fantasy. In summary, I found this book to be a decent road trip, but really slow to get going and somewhat misdirected at the end. I would like to read another book by Libba Bray to get a better sense of her authorship, but I am afraid that "Going Bovine" measures in at just under four stars. (Jun 19-29)

Jun 25, 2013

darn! I hadn't finished this book when I read the comments but I think I know what happens in the end now.

Aug 01, 2012

I read this book a few months ago thinking this will be a good time filler but ended up loving it and the plot!

Aug 01, 2012
  • ARTard rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

I never know what to expect with Libba Bray's books and this one was no exception. I wont spoil it but I will say that I was bummed out by the ending after I got over being completely mind-blown by it. It was definitely an interesting read and I can't say it isn't worth it. But I do hope I don't end up with Mad Cow Disease. Ever.

Jul 27, 2012
  • chrisgotstacks rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Its amazing i liked how its very diffrent then other books

Jul 22, 2012
  • tocch101 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Interesting ideas, but a little disappointing. It seems very real, and doesn't give the happy ending you want, but it felt like you got a half baked story either way.

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Jul 10, 2012
  • black_otter_13 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

black_otter_13 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Mar 30, 2011
  • firedark60 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

firedark60 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

Mar 07, 2011
  • allamericanexpatriate rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

allamericanexpatriate thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over


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Mar 07, 2011
  • allamericanexpatriate rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Coarse Language: This title contains Coarse Language.


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Mar 05, 2012
  • JewelMcLatchy rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

"Who the heck is Don Quicks-oat?"


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