Bray, Libba. Going Bovine. New York: Delacorte Press, 2009.
Going Bovine is part mystery, part suspense and part coming of age. It's the story of Cameron and Gonzo and Balder who take a road trip to find Dr. X. This is the only person that can cure Cameron from the disease that made him punch Chet. The story crosses into parallel universes and parallel realities.
From the opening acknowledgement page, I was laughing. Bray is very observant and describes people and situations with great humor. I liked how she gets around copyright issues by creating similar names for things (e.g., YA! TV, MyNet page, Konstant Kettle, Juicy Cute Bears). To give an example of her humor, she writes, "He smiles, and he caterpillar mustache--the envy of state troopers everywhere, I'm sure" (Bray 41). Another example that relates to my profession is the SPEW tests that the students must take. Yes, state mandated tests are often spew!
As I read, the story became more serious and I wasn't sure how it would end. I was surprised at the ending and a bit disappointed. I was on the road trip with Cameron to find out it ends...at Disney World. I think the timing of reading this book was interesting since I visited Disney World this summer. Perhaps all things are connected.
One thing I wish Bray would not have included was the drug use at the beginning of the novel. I guess she's trying to reach an audience and relate to them, but I think the "loner kid" aspect could not involve drugs and still be accurate.
In addition to the product "dis" placement, Bray creates the CESSNAB organization. This part of the book made me laugh! Bray's insight into humanity is, in my opinion, so true. People need to cling to hope, and they can't make decisions. What they wished for may not be what they want.
The most endearing character is Balder. His noble voice and loyalty will make me look at yard gnomes in an entirely different way.
I'm glad I read Going Bovine as I was able to escape for a time and travel with Cameron on his archetypal hero's journey and quest. I think Bray waited until the end to give the moral message (if that's what we can call it) so we'd appreciate it more. "[Life] is a great ride" (Bray 479).