6 Word Review: Going Bovine = Cameron in Wonderland

Going Bovine by Libba Bray; published by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, 2009; 480 pages.

Mad cow disease is deadly, especially in humans.  You get swiss-cheese-for-brains.  Hallucinations.  Uncontrollable muscle twitches.  Death.  Cameron finds out the hard way: through personal experience.  As the book opens, Cameron is a typical, kinda outsider 16 year old.  He’s disconnected from family, has no friends to speak of, smokes some weed to fade away and listens to music only to make fun of it.  (In fact, his happiest day was at age 5, at Disney World, where he almost died.)  Then his life takes a wild turn for the worse, and yet it unfolds like it’s for the best.  He lives a lifetime of adventure in two weeks.  Seemingly random trivia from his life takes on a synergy that drives his destiny, his quest “to live.”  His adventure reads like Alice in Wonderland meets Don Quixote and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

I saw some of the buzz about this book before reading it.  In fact, some reviews kept me from reading it sooner, and I suspect it might keep teens away too.  Calling this book “the first modern book for young adults” is scary and calls to mind stream-0f-consciousness writing with deep meaning.  Seriously, those kinds of reviews crack me up: who are they meant for?  Obviously, not for the intended audience!  What an injustice to a phenomenal story.  This quirky book is about carpe diem, seizing every opportunity, because you never know when you might go bovine.  Since it’s the 2010 Michael Printz award winner, I had to read it.  Ooh, thank goodness it won the award so I would pick it up and travel with Cameron.  I hate to say too much here, to give too much away, because the journey is wacky and wonderful.  (I don’t think mentioning who he’s traveling with is fair either; kinda gives too much away.)  It’s been a very long time since I read a book that made me laugh out loud, nod my head in agreement, and moved me to tears (sadness, hope, resignation?) by the end.  I should’ve known it would become a favorite after reading the acknowledgments (at the beginning rather than the end of the book).  I laughed, I nodded my head in agreement, but I didn’t cry when I read them; I just told everyone I know that this is the best written acknowledgment in any book ever.  Ever.  In the history of books.  Seriously.

I can see this becoming a cult classic, in spite of winning awards and being labeled “modern literature.”  If I’d been able to read this as a young adult, I think my 20s would have been profoundly different.  But then again, maybe not.  Who knows?

4P     5+Q     Grade Level: 9 and up

Cover art: Black background.  Cow carrying a yard gnome under it’s “arm.”  Wacky title in red and white.  Intriguing.  But it’s reputation and word-0f-mouth will keep this book off the shelves for a long time to come.

From Reading List: Michael L. Printz Award winner, 2010


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    Word Within a Word! #7 In this teaser you have two tasks. First, you need to fill in the correct blank letter of each word. Second, when you have done this, each letter then needs to be transferred to the numbered blanks in order to discover the keyword. 1. _ AINT 2. TIME _ 3. B _ AST 4. MI _ ER 5. ST _ LL 6. BRI _ E 7. PLAN _ 8. _ IFTY 9. RE _ AP 10. DIAR _ […]
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