I’ve had Going Bovine by Libba Bray on my shelf since it came out. I read it recently along with my informal book group.
About the Book:
Cameron is a high school student and social outcast whose life is about to get very strange. Beyond that, Going Bovine rather defies summary. Instead, here are some things you can expect to find between its covers: a talking garden gnome, Disney’s It’s a Small World ride, a sugar-addicted punk-rock angel of questionable reality, an asthmatic dwarf, snow globe vigilantes, a Norse god, fire monsters, mad cow disease, and a Wizard of Reckoning, among other things. Like I said…hard to summarize.
I wanted very much to like my first exposure to Libba Bray, an author whose praise I have nearly always heard highly sung. I think, however, that Going Bovine was the wrong place to start. As some of you may recall from my reaction to Lewis Carroll’s Alice stories, I don’t do random well. Admittedly, Cameron’s story did have a bit more of an overarching plot than Alice’s did, but as you can probably tell from the list above, the level of randomness was still extraordinarily high.
Cameron is a bitter, sarcastic, funny narrator. He’s not afraid to swear or to speak his mind, and the more you get to know him, the less you blame him. I certainly found no flaw with him; rather, it was the story he was given that was a little hard for me to enjoy. And that, I think, was only because of my personal literary preferences.
At its heart, Cameron’s story is actually very serious, and I think I was a little uncomfortable with the direct juxtaposition of absurdity and gravity. The whole thing came off farcical in some places, then reality would swoop in and make me feel bad for having so recently laughed at the antics of Cameron and his friends. I think it’s probably actually a very good book — just not really my style.
Will I try Libba Bray again? Absolutely. As I write this, Beauty Queens is watching me from a nearby shelf, and Bray’s Gemma Doyle trilogy is already on my audiobook TBR list. Hardcore fans and those who do not shy away from absurdity will doubtless love Going Bovine, as I feel it was my own tastes and no fault of the author’s that this particular novel and I didn’t gel.