Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Book Rave: Top Ten Reasons You Should Read GOING BOVINE by Libba Bray

Hey guys. Paula here. I was all set to do this book rave on Victoria Scott’s THE COLLECTOR, and rest-assured that post is coming because, OMG, it is not easy to make me laugh out loud and that book SLAYED me. But over the past few weeks, I realized how many of my writer and blogger friends have not read Libba Bray’s GOING BOVINE. This is one of my favorite novels of all time. It’s not just funny, or poignant, or thought-provoking, or inspiring. It’s ALL of those things, with an extra side of funny. You are missing out if you skip this book.

Here's the official flap copy: 

Can Cameron find what he’s looking for?

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

GOING BOVINE came out right after I finished nursing school. It was one of those sad times in my life when I owed more money than I made and couldn't afford to buy books. But when I heard about this completely whacktastic story about a kid who gets mad cow disease—helloooo epic fail day—and goes on a vision quest across the country in search of a mysterious doctor who may be able to save his life, I had to have it.

So I requested it from the library, read it, and got completely hooked. Reading it was like getting caught in a blizzard of snow globe glitter, floo powder, and LSD. I didn’t want to give it back. I kept renewing it until the library sent me a friendly email telling me to turn it in or else.

But then I requested it again. And read it again. And eventually was forced to turn it in again. But I requested it again. At one point I sent Libba Bray an awkward facebook message about how for me GOING BOVINE was the standard by which all YA lit should be measured. Then it won the Printz Award—I guess some smart people agreed with me.

Libba sent back a nice FB message thanking me, and ended it with: “Happy writing, and happy human being-ing.” I’m still working on getting better at both of those things, but I did finally get smart enough to realize that a book I loved so much I library-requested it for six straight months was one I couldn’t afford NOT to buy.

So I bought it. You should too. Need more convincing?

Top Ten Reasons Why You should Read GOING BOVINE

10. Two words--Printz Award. If you don’t know what that is, you might want to stop googling “emo kitty haz a sad” long enough to research it. Especially if you’re a YA writer because, you know, basics.

9.  Just the acknowledgments made me laugh out loud. Seriously—they’re so good the publisher put them in the front of the book.

8.  ROAD TRIP! With a sentient yard gnome, who may also be a god.

7.  It has a pretty hefty amount of swear words, and some drug and sex-related content. This is not so much a reason to read it as a warning for those of you who prefer your YA on the sterile side. Please don’t send me any angry “That devil-woman and her filth hath sullied my virgin ears” emails. You can send those straight to Libba :-) Just kidding.

6.  It’s an allegory of Don Quixote, featuring a pink-haired, punk-rock angel in the role of Dulcinea.

5.  The chapter titles, which include: Wherein I have a Very Strange Encounter While Stoned and Employ a Frying Pan in My Defense and Wherein the Angel Discusses the Wonders of Microwave Popcorn and Gonzo gets Our Asses Stranded in the Middle of Nowhere

4.  It will forever change the way you think about snow globes.

3.  Sibling love at its finest:  
Cameron: “Hey Jenna, were those your birth control pills I found in the bathroom this morning?”
Jenna: “No, I think those were the ones Mom meant to take before you were born.”

2.  Libba Bray is actually a teenage boy. Okay, not really, but she writes the BEST teen boy voice ever:
“You’ve got mustard on your shirt,” Staci points out
"It was cheeseburger day.”
“Oh my God, you don’t actually eat in the cafeteria every day?”
“I have a thing going with one of the lunch ladies. Bernice. she’s the one with the hairnet and the mustache. But mum’s the word. Wouldn’t want to spoil the big prom surprise."

1.  The first sentence: 
The best day of my life happened when I was five and almost died at Disney World.

Have you read GOING BOVINE? What did you think? 

And, before I go, I have some SWEET VALENTINES UPDATES:

RIGHT NOW: Win an ARC of DEFY over at Sara Larson's blog. While you're there, maybe check out her post on overcoming doubt too. Good stuff, Sara!

NOON EST: Check out Anne Blankman's cover reveal for PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG over at yabookscentral.com Enter to win a signed ARC and a necklace.

TOMORROW: Check out my cover reveal for THE ART OF LAINEY with Christina at Ensconced in YA. Win an e-gift card to Powell's Books and a chance to become an 'extra' in the story. You know you wanna be in my book :-)


  1. Great post, Paula! Thanks for reminding me of this title; it's always on my TBR list, and I never seem to snag it. I think it's time!

    1. I think it's easy to feel like you'll never finish reading the new books so how can you possibly have time for the old, but this book is so worth it. My life is seriously better off for having read it.

  2. Okay, you've sold me! It's been on my virtual TBR list, every time I see the title at my indie bookstore, or the library. Only someone as talented as LB could think of that title, yeah? I have to say, Paula, your writing about snappy (a good word) writing is also really fun to read!

    1. Thanks Alice! As I was reading over the post I was pretty happy with how it turned out, and it occurred to me that it's just more evidence for my fave writing rule: "Write what you LOVE." Not what you know. Not what you're good at. When you are really passionate about something, I think it shows in your writing. It at least makes the job a lot easier :-)

  3. *adds to Goodreads TBR list* That birth control exchange pushed me over the edge.

    1. Dude. I got to the end of my top ten and was like "I should show, not tell." I literally opened the book to a random page and picked that gem. Ditto for the lunch lady bit. The whole book is full of biting wit :D

  4. Oooh, what a great rave, Paula! I read, and LOVED, Beauty Queens but haven't read Going Bovine. Didn't realize it won the Printz. Will make sure I read it.

    1. I have the un-medaled cover from 2009 and it's like the designer purposely left a spot blank for the medal :D I think you will love it, JRo :-)

  5. I've read it, and it was definitely a wild and crazy ride! (your description was spot on!) Thanks for the rave!

    And thanks for the mentions--I really appreciate it. Can't wait for your cover reveal tomorrow!!!

    1. Thanks Sara! And wow, how pretty is Anne's cover--those EYES! The Vals have really got a collection of stunning covers. I can't wait to collect them all :D

  6. Great rave--and great book. I read it last year, and like Sara L. said, it was a wild and crazy ride.:) It makes you think and it make you feel...Libba is a YA master.:)

    AND DYING FOR YOUR COVER!!!!!! Can't wait! :)

  7. Great post, Paula! And your cover is beautiful!