Libba Bray’s Going Bovine


Bray, L. (2009). Going bovine. New York: Delacorte Press. 0385904118

Davies, E., & Bray, L. (2009). Going bovine. New York: Random House/Listening Library. 9780739385579

Yes, they say you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover. However, seeing the cow carrying a whimsical gnome drove me to check out the book from HCPL. Unfortunately, I had a stack of other books at the time and had to turn in the book. Later on, I checked out the audiobook and was quite pleased by Erik Davies’ narration.

Cameron John Smith seems to be a stereotypical sixteen year old boy living in Hidalgo, Tx – too smart to give a flip about anything. He’s an awkward underachiever who has rejected the world before it can reject him. He tries to get by without calling much attention to himself. Yet, his body seems to have lost control. Cameron sees weird things, too – a punk angel, fiery giants, etc.

By some odd twist of fate, Cameron has gotten Creutzfeldt Jakob’s Disease (commonly known as mad cow disease) from a burger eaten at his former place of employment, Buddha Burger (ironic, isn’t it?).  (A side note here for all of my former Natural World II classmates – thanks to Deadly Feasts, we know all about CJD and folks going bovine.) Cameron finds himself in the hospital bed by spring break, sometimes sharing a room with a hypochondriac dwarf classmate of his, Gonzo. That is when Dulcie, the punk angel addresses him and commissions him to save the world in exchange for a cure. Finding he has nothing left to lose, Cameron ventures forth with sidekick Gonzo.

Without revealing much more, I loved the parts involving Balder, the Norse god trapped in a garden gnome shell. Also, I can describe this novel with one of my favorite words – quixotic. Cameron goes on quests, has a sidekick, fights for the honor of Dulcie (Dulcenea), and tilts windmills.

The imagination and creativity of Bray impressed me greatly. Nonetheless, she carefully minded boundaries; leaving Don Quixote and Disney World as is.

One caveat: this is for older teens. Going Bovine deals in topics such as sex and sexuality as well as using profanity.

ALA | The Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature, given by YALSA

Four out of Five Pearls

Word Bank:

Places: The United States

For more on Libba Bray’s Going Bovine, please check out the following:

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One thought on “Libba Bray’s Going Bovine

  1. Thanks for the link! I listened to the audiobook as well, which I really enjoyed, although it did lead to a few instances of me laughing out loud on the treadmill at the gym, which garnered me some strange looks from the people working out nearby. 🙂

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