Thursday, May 28, 2009

In Review: Going Bovine

Recently, I've started to think about how to structure my book reviews. In this new world order, I wanted to briefly summarize the book in one paragraph, before moving onto some personal considerations in the second. This also makes it more of a personal description of the book than I actual review, I realize, so I should probably stop writing "In Review". My new format however, is pretty much shattered with the next book I want to talk about. Going Bovine by Libba Bray, an intense work of young adult fiction, defies being summarized. The book is many things. It's a character study of it's protagonist Cameron. It's sort of a funky watercolor journey through issues of mortality. It has a lot of crazy characters who pop in, sometimes only briefly, sometimes coming back again and again. Not being a teenager anymore, I can't really say that this books speaks for me. If I had been a teenager when it came out, I'd say this this job probably would have done the best job.

Going Bovine deals with some serious issues; Cameron's disease is extremely rare, yet it gives him a unique perspective and attitude where we can laugh with him instead of feel sorry for him. In many ways, the Cameron at the beginning of the book is struggling for an identity. Oddly, his sickness is what gives him a self-image. I feel like I'm trying to make the book "deep" when it's actually one of the funnier books I've read. Every situation is dealt with in this sort of snarky tone that makes you root for Cameron throughout the story. If I had to be nitpicky and tell you one thing I didn't like, I'd probably go with the character of Gonzo. Gonzo, the video gaming dwarf, becomes Cameron's buddy after meeting him in the second chapter. He's one of the first surreal elements that Cameron starts to deal with. He didn't, to me, seem like a character who went to high school. I pictured him more of a gruff old man who hung around the school trying to peddle drugs and video games on the playground. He would make me laugh, too, but I just couldn't shake the feeling that he was often out of place.

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