Sunday, 17 May 2015

Book Review: Going Bovine; Libba Bray.

I was certainly on a roll while in Crete because this was the second book I got through while there (or at least most of it)! I actually attempted to read this book when I first received it almost a decade ago (wow!) but I just couldn't get through it. Reading it now that I am older allowed me to appreciate what Libba Bray was trying to achieve a lot better. I finished this book on the 11th May, and found it to be intriguing, if a little on the weird side.

TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: Going Bovine
AUTHOR: Libba Bray
PAGES: 480
GENRE: Young Adult, Contemporary, Humour, Adventure

RATING: 1.5/5 Stars

All 16-year-old Cameron wants is to get through high school—and life in general—with a minimum of effort. It’s not a lot to ask. But that’s before he’s given some bad news: he’s sick and he’s going to die. Which totally sucks. Hope arrives in the winged form of Dulcie, a loopy punk angel/possible hallucination with a bad sugar habit. She tells Cam there is a cure—if he’s willing to go in search of it. With the help of a death-obsessed, video-gaming dwarf and a yard gnome, Cam sets off on the mother of all road trips through a twisted America into the heart of what matters most.

What I Liked:
  • I'm the kind of reader that is big on symbolism. I love reading between the lines and finding out there is much more meaning to the words than what you see on the page. Due to the nature of Cameron's illness, he often has hallucinations and it is here that we gain a real insight into him and his world. It was a lot of fun to correlate his fantasies to the reality he lived in and I really felt like Bray did a great job at conveying a message about the kind of world we live in.
  • Bray's writing in itself was pretty good. Short, labelled chapters kept me intrigued and wanting to read more, and her style was consistent. The most enjoyable aspect of her writing was her attention to detail. I felt like every word I read was important, and didn't ever feel like I skimmed or skipped any. That is a major positive for this book.
What I Disliked:
  • I'm sure everyone enjoys a bit of crazy and weird now and then, but there was just far too much of it here. The whole journey felt like one long, drug-addled trip into a world of total nuttiness and unbelievable. For some people that will probably sound fantastic but for me it was disconcerting. I got confused and lost at times, and didn't really always grasp exactly what the point of some plot events even were.
  • The characters were the worst aspect of this book. The only one I liked was Gonzo, and even his hypochondriac tendencies grated on me at times. The narrator, Cameron, was thoroughly irritating and miserable to read from most of the time, and while his self-absorbed family and illness made me sympathise with him a tad, I just found it hard to feel too sorry for him because the angst and cynicism just made me want to roll my eyes. I felt like half of his problems were self-inflicted and it was frustratingly clear that he was just as selfish and horrible at times as the people he accused of being so constantly. What an attitude!
Overall Conclusion:
So this book was interesting in it's concept and I never felt bored of it. There was so much to be found between the lines, which I always love to find when reading, and I found that aspect of it intriguing and enjoyable. Unfortunately, poor characterisation and too much weirdness made this book frustrating a lot of the time too. It felt like all the things that Cameron was learning were a little too late considering his situation, and the wackiness of it all got a bit too much for me. On the one side it was clever, but I just wish I had actually been rooting for the characters and enjoyed the acid-trip like journey they went on.

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