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.Read more...
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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.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 46.
- Review Date: 2009-08-03
- Reviewer: Staff
Cameron Smith, 16, is slumming through high school, overshadowed by a sister “pre-majoring in perfection,” while working (ineptly) at the Buddha Burger. Then something happens to make him the focus of his family's attention: he contracts mad cow disease. What takes place after he is hospitalized is either that a gorgeous angel persuades him to search for a cure that will also save the world, or that he has a vivid hallucination brought on by the disease. Either way, what readers have is an absurdist comedy in which Cameron, Gonzo (a neurotic dwarf) and Balder (a Norse god cursed to appear as a yard gnome) go on a quixotic road trip during which they learn about string theory, wormholes and true love en route to Disney World. Bray's surreal humor may surprise fans of her historical fantasies about Gemma Doyle, as she trains her satirical eye on modern education, American materialism and religious cults (the smoothie-drinking members of the Church of Everlasting Satisfaction and Snack 'N' Bowl). Offer this to fans of Douglas Adams's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy seeking more inspired lunacy. Ages 14–up. (Sept.)
Tilting at windmills
In a departure from her Victorian-era trilogy for teens, Libba Bray dishes out a multi-layered dark comedy in her latest book, Going Bovine. Sixteen-year-old Cameron Smith, a self-absorbed slacker from Texas, is dying from Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, the human variant of Mad Cow.
Doctors don’t give Cameron much time, but Dulcie, a punk angel with pink hair, explains that the prions attacking his brain are from dark energy released by Dr. X. While parallel world-hopping, this mad scientist opened a wormhole, allowing dark energy to penetrate Earth. If Cameron can track down Dr. X, he’ll not only find a cure for his Mad Cow, but also save the planet in the process.
Cameron sets out on a farcical road trip to Daytona Beach, where Dr. X may be hiding. With help from his hospital roommate (an anxious, hypochondriac Little Person named Paul Henry “Gonzo” Gonzales), guidance from Dulcie and messages from tabloids, the pair tackles a series of hilarious, Don Quixote-like battles.
During the journey, Cameron begins to appreciate his parents, reconnect with his near-perfect sister and most importantly, learn about himself and how to trust, love—and live. While enjoying the hijinks, readers will have to decide whether Cameron’s escapades are really happening or merely the result of his deteriorating spongy brain, an element that adds to the madcap fun.