Sunday, November 29, 2015

Going Bovine, by Libba Bray

Cameron Smith is a high school slacker who suddenly begins to suffer from hallucinations.  Over time, he learns that he’s come down with Creutzfeldt-Jakob variant BSE, more commonly known as the deadly “mad cow disease”.  Fearing that he may be dying, Cameron escapes from the hospital with help from his dwarf friend Gonzo, an honest-to-goodness angel named Dulcie, and a Norse god named Balder who’s been cursed with the appearance of a lawn gnome.  These unlikely friends set off on one last wild Spring Break adventure that’s almost too insane to be real!

Even though this book has a couple of mature themes, I’d feel comfortable recommending it to most high schoolers.  The tough issues that Cameron faces are dealt with in a very respectful manner, and Ms. Bray’s writing presents a raw, unvarnished picture of a less-than-perfect kid.  With all the drama involved, this book might have become a real downer if it wasn’t so absolutely hilarious!  The situations that Cameron and his crew encounter are completely over-the-top, and there were some points when I felt like I was dreaming this story instead of simply reading it! 

One of my favorite parts about “Going Bovine” was that it made me wonder if Cameron was actually dying, or if the whole story was simply a sickness-induced hallucination.  Either way, it made for a fun experience since everyone has considered the possibility of their own death at some point.  And if you’re ever stuck for ideas on a writing project, you couldn’t ask for a better prompt than imagining what you might do if you only had a few weeks left to live.  If Ms. Bray could create this amazing story from that one simple idea, just imagine the story you could write!  

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