A cow standing upright holding a garden gnome under its arm.

About the Book

Title: Going Bovine
Published: 2009
Swoonworthy Scale: 5

BFF Charm: Yay
Talky Talk: Straight Up
Bonus Factors: Creutzfeldt-Jakob, Physics, Road Trip, Save Ferris
Relationship Status: Summer Love

The Deal:

Cameron’s a slacker, a stoner, and just wants to coast through life as seamlessly as possible. Unfortunately for him, he contracts Mad Cow disease, which besides making him persona non grata at the Red Cross blood drives, sort of hoses his plan to slide through life under the radar.

The fact that he is sent on a mission by a totally cute angel called Dulcie, and is told that he has to bring his hypochondriac, dwarf hospital roommate, Gonzo, with him on this adventure doesn’t exactly help Cam’s plans to lay low. But if he can manage to tie together an old Jazz player, a missing physicist, a Viking garden gnome and The World’s Most Popular Inuit Band, he may just save the world AND save himself.

BFF Charm: Yay!

Yay BFF Charm

Okay, to be honest, for the first half of this book, I was totally NOT going to give Cameron this BFF necklace. I mean, I think I would rather have given the charm to my sixth grade BFF, who, for the next two years, led the school into a rousing chorus of telling me how ugly I was. Every day. Cameron was THAT lame.

I mean, I get it, Cam, high school sucks, and you’ve got a perfect twin sister AND one of your parents may be cheating on their spouse, but HELLO, that is no reason to be such a slacker! I mean, ALL of those things happened to Jessica Wakefield and do you think she just decided to sit around all day, smoke pot and whine about things? No! (plus, drugs can kill! just ask Regina Morrowin Sweet Valley High #40, On The Edge.) Jessica Wakefield decided to be awesome and have 105 boyfriends and drive around in her Spider Fiat, flipping her hair all day! Why can’t you be more like Jessica Wakefield, Cameron?

BUT. That said, once Cameron accepts his mission and starts opening his eyes to the awesome world surrounding him, he is 100% my BFF.

Swoonworthy Scale: 5

Okay, you guys, having a thing for an angel is A LITTLE WEIRD. Except that Dulcie, who’s sort of like Cam’s guardian angel/spirit guide/fashion icon is TOTALLY AWESOME. She’s cute and quirky and I love her!

Also, it’s kinda crazy to think about things like losing one’s virginity from a boy’s point of view. I just assumed they all Did It to Meatloaf’s “I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That).” Boys of the world, please do not tell me that this isn’t true.

Talky Talk: Straight Up

Going Bovine represents a pretty big departure for Libba Bray, who previously was known only for her (in my opinion, awesome) Victorian-era Gemma Doyle trilogy, in which most people talk all fancy-like, like my British fella does after he’s had too much to drink. This book is pretty much the opposite of those books: very modern and freshly-written. And Libba Bray doesn’t shy away from the foul language, which I, as someone who could have made a pirate blush at age 12, really appreciate. Kids say fuck. Deal.

Bonus Factor: Creutzfeldt-Jakob!

A cow in a field at sunset.

YOU GUYS. Cameron gets Mad Cow disease! Like, actually! Also, this leads me to a little segment called Erin’s Weird Mental Library of Trivia:

Did you know that there’s a very similar form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob called kuru? It was discovered in Papua, New Guinea by a team of cultural anthropologists, who were wondering why the women and children of the tribe seemed to be falling ill with a form of C-J, but the men were not. The answer? Well, the tribe were cannibals, and the men would usually receive what was considered the better cuts of meat – flesh from the thighs, arms, belly, etc. Women and children, however, were often reduced to cannibalizing the brain, spinal cord, and other areas where the evil prions that make up C-J are centered.

It was a pretty important discovery, and it’s what led to governments enforcing safer food-handling practices and the banning of t-bone steaks and marrow in infested areas.

You’re welcome.

Bonus Factor: Physics!

A figurine of Albert Einstein with his right hand raised

I LOVE PHYSICS. Seriously. My two cats are named Schrodinger and Heisenberg. That’s how much of a physics geek I am!

In Going Bovine, there’s a lot of discussion of worm holes, string theory, the theory of everything, the theory of nothing (and the theory of something in between). And while Libba Bray is no Stephen Hawking, she does manage to pack a bit of physics punch into this book, and totally makes it fun, even for people who don’t know why naming your cats Schrodinger and Heisenberg is endlessly funny.

Bonus Factor: Road Trip!

Happy Couple Driving on Country Road in Classic Vintage Sports Car

I really think I’d enjoy a road trip. I mean, they always sound SO FUN AND COOL in books – just setting out, seeing where the wind will take you, stopping in little towns to see the giant spoon collection, or whatever. Unfortunately, the pharmaceutical companies have yet to invent a motion-sickness pill that doesn’t turn me into a drooling zombie incapable of simple word sounds, so for now, a road trip is out.

But I sure do like reading about them!

Bonus Factor: Save Ferris!

Ferris Bueller singing in the shower with a shampoo mohawk.

As soon as the kids and teachers at Cam’s school find out that he’s been Bad Burgered, they totally rally around him! And my best friend’s sister’s boyfriend’s cousin knows this guy who knows this kid who’s going out with the girl that saw Cameron pass out at 31 Flavors last night. I guess it’s pretty serious.

Relationship Status: Summer Love

I really enjoyed reading this book. I mean, I didn’t Learn A Big Life Lesson or anything (other than “living your life is a good idea; being a slacker sucks,” but I had already learned that from pretty much every teen movie ever made), but Libba Bray kept me laughing, and guessing, and caring. At the end, I knew it was time to move on, but I also knew that when I got back to real life, I’d have tons of juicy stories to tell!

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Delacorte Books for Young Readers. I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). Going Bovine is available now.

Erin is loud, foul-mouthed, an unrepentant lover of trashy movies and believes that champagne should be an every day drink.