Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Going Bovine, by Libba Bray

Cameron, a devoted pot-smoking, slacker is having some hallucinations. They get worse and more frequent and in a doctor's visit, after several visits to counselors and psychiatrists he is finally diagnosed with Mad-cow disease. The reviewer from the NY Times gives a wonderful, short summary of the book:

The New York Times - Lisa Von Drasek

…manages to turn a hopeless situation into a hilarious and hallucinatory quest, featuring an asthmatic teenage dwarf, Gonzo; a pink-haired angel in combat boots, Dulcie; and Balder, a Norse god who is cursed with the form of a garden gnome…Libba Bray not only breaks the mold of the ubiquitous dying-teenager genre—she smashes it and grinds the tiny pieces into the sidewalk. For the record, I'd go anywhere she wanted to take me.


I agree with her--this is a wonderful "on the road" adventure and offers some great opportunities to explore topics of friendship, life's purpose, death and dieing, peer pressure, and some of the social phenomenon on our landscape. On a personal level I especially enjoy Bray's treatment of Norse Gods and angels. A couple years ago I went on a streak of reading "god/goddesses" books--books by Michael Scott, Rick Riordan and Neil Gaiman. This is a nice addition to the collection.

I have also read Bray's other books, the Gemma Doyle Trilogy. The first two of these were wonderful explorations of the Victorian era with a supernatural twist. I was less enthusiastic about the final book in the series. I see lots of high school girls reading the series so I feel certain we are going to see more from Libba Bray.

This was the Michal Prinz 2009 award winner. I often find the Prinz books to be challenging and this is no exception.

A note about the tags--I don't know whether to categorize this as realistic fiction or fantasy. It combines both. If I was forced to choose I would go with the realistic fiction (with the caveat that the main character has hallucinations). It's also worth a trip to the Barnes and Nobel website to see the video clip of Bray--sometimes I find out a little too much about the authors behind to books.

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