Going Bovine Book Review

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.

–Amazon Book Description

Going Bovine by Libba Bray

[ Due to the emotion issues and certain scenes in this book, I would not recommend it to any who is younger than 16. If you have questions or would like to know exactly why I say this, then feel free to comment me and I’ll get back to you.]

Cameron is a bit of a loser, your average high school go-nowhere with no girlfriend and no best friend and no life. Then, one day he gets mad cow disease. The doctors tell him he is going to die and Cameron has given up all hope of life until he meets the angle Dulcie (she might just be a hallucination) who tells him that there might be a cure– if he’s willing to risk everything to find it. Turns out, Cameron is willing, seeing as he has nothing to lose. So he sets out on the road trip to end all road trips across America. With a dwarf and a Norse god at his side, he sets off to find the cure and maybe even save the world.

The good first. I laughed maybe 10 times total during this ride. If you read this book, you will get around 10 laughs depending on what kind of humor you enjoy. That’s about all that was good with this book. 10 laughs.

There are a few things wrong with this book. First, I didn’t really like Cameron, mostly because I can’t stand it when people do drugs, even in books. It naturally makes me hate the character for being so stupid.  So, from the beginning, I didn’t really like the main character.

However, Bray could have made up for that by making Cam’s thoughts (the book is 1st person) super funny, much like John Green’s characters. But Cameron was the kind of guy that moans and drags and that made this book have its second problem: it was so long!

I mean, I can do long books, but this one just dragged out. The writing wasn’t really bad writing, it was just good writing about completely uninteresting things, things that were really strange and thus not interesting, or  writing   overly long explanations about a repeated topic.  I don’t know why, I but ended up having to force myself to finish it– something I was not expecting based on the way I devoured the Gemma Doyle Trilogy (excellent books by the way). Some parts were very boring, while others were only mildly interesting. There was one section towards the end that I liked and that had captured my attention, but that was about it.

The third problem I had with this book was the it was really confusing. And not confusing in plot twists who-did-what kind of stories. It was confusing as in Cameron was hallucinating a lot as a result of the disease, and it was never really clear exactly what was going on. Due to the fact that it was boring, I was only halfway reading parts, which probably contributed to the lack of sense. Still, I really felt that, especially in the end, things weren’t quite making sense.

Oh, that ending. It sucked. That’s all I can say. Very important things,(MILD SPOILER) such as whether  the character lives or dies were very unclear. I kind get the feeling that he lived. Or died. definitely one of the two. Actually, it is also a possibility that he was in limbo…

Anyways , the ending was not only unclear, but it was very long and probably the most confusing part. I can kind of understand what was supposed to be happening, but the book didn’t really present a clear ending and tell me that. I had to sit there for a while and reread parts until I understood: “Oh! That was what she was trying to do– trying and failing…”

There was just something about the way the ending was jumping around, the randomness of the villain, and there was this bit with a Roadrunner– it just all made for a very unclear and very, very unsatisfying end.

The worst part was, there was this band that kept being mentioned, Copenhagen Interpretation it was called, and I really like the idea of this great band and how everyone in the world (and in other worlds) agreed it was a great band. But in the end, they were sucked right back into what they were trying to escape from, and nobody seemed to care. Wait– world’s greatest band goes missing and everyone starts cheering? Why that was escaped me.

Let’s wrap this up:

— Bad ending

— Very confusing

— Unlikable main character (for me. If you can handle druggies, which I can’t, then Cam is fine)

— Only okay secondary characters

–Really random hey-I-need-to-make-this-weird-plot-twist-work–so-I’ll-sacrifice- reader-comprehension-for-it villain.

— Not half as funny as I know Libba Bray can be.

Overall, this book was a disappointment, especially since it came from the same author as the Gemma Doyle books. I wouldn’t recommend reading it unless you want a long book, can handle strange and overly random things well, and don’t care if endings are good. I probably will never read this book again and I can’t rate it very high. Sorry Libba Bray fans. I’m just as sad that I have to do this, but the review cannot lie.

Ri’s Rating


1.5/ 5


0. Couldn’t get past chapter one for fear of wanting to kill myself. Book induced suicide…

1: Yuck. Ew. Below Average. Probably didn’t even read the middle and skipped to the end.

2. Ok. Would’ve been better if I’d written the ending and everything else.

3. Not bad at all. Very enjoyable. Quite nice. Recommendable.

4. My kind of book. Near ideal, but something was a little off (annoying names, bad ending, that sort of thing).

5. WOW. Makes me wonder why people watch T.V when this is out there. Really liked it. Don’t expect to see this often.

6 and above. What I want my book to be.

Leave a comment


  1. Gina

     /  January 10, 2010

    Agreed, agreed, agreed. Wow, your reviews are fun to read! It seems like we have similar taste in books… I read the Hunger Games today and can’t wait to pick up the sequel.

    I usually devour long books, but this was like torture to read. Once I realized that Cam was hallucinating the whole thing, I stopped caring. If that twist had come at the end, it would have maybe been better, but… overall, this book was disappointing. I haven’t read her other books yet, but maybe I’ll give them a try.

    • Ri

       /  January 10, 2010

      I totally recommend her other books…although the third one is a little long. But yes, I totally know what you are saying about this book. I hope you enjoy catching fire! It was quite the thriller!

  2. heppa nay

     /  January 30, 2010

    I agree and disagree with you.
    I agree that the ending was indeed confusing for me and i didn’t quite understand what was going on at first. I had to read it more than once. But i think that Cameron died… i mean, unless suddenly the mad cow disease was cured.
    I think that despite the fact that this book is a bit slow-paced and not as thrilling as the Gemma Doyle trilogy, Going Bovine taught a very good lesson. The part about existing, but not always LIVING? I liked that. Just because u exist doesn’t me u r living life to the fullest. Despite the fact that Cam does drugs sometimes and had sex (twice!) in the book, i believe he is very brave. He learned a lot before he died (maybe he didn’t die).
    Libba Bray didn’t put the element of fantasy into this book, which kind of disappointed me, but authors are allowed to write more than one genre and the fact that Cameron finally realized he WANTED to live… well i thought that was amazing. He says he had a shitty life right? That he wouldn’t really care if he died? He just proved himself wrong.

    It was a detailed review tho, and i respect ur opinion. I’m just stating mine.

    • Ri

       /  January 31, 2010

      Thanks for such a well crafted comment (and for being brave enough to disagree with me:)!). Your points of existing doesn’t equal living, I totally agree with. The book did have some very interesting morals to it. What I guess really threw me off was just how confusing it was towards the end. But, you are right in saying that Cam was making a monumental move in finding out that he really wanted to live. I just wish I knew whether or not he did.

  3. jessica chai

     /  March 19, 2010

    What a nutcase book! It was unbelievably horrible. Cheesy, wacko, and just plain down random. A whole lot of things don’t make sense. First off, why is a freaking snow globe company acting as a police force? What’s up with the obsession with Disney Land? If it’s an atheist book, why the heck is there a Norse god involved? Why are the characters just so fake? Not my type at all. I’d give it a 0.5

  4. LG

     /  June 4, 2010

    I think this book appeals to different people differently. For example, i love wacky, out of place, crazy books like Going Bovine. I thought it was hillarious and have read it many times. The ending may be confusing but I think there are many ways you can interprit it. (reality is what you make of it)

    • Ri

       /  June 4, 2010

      thanks for the comment. i totally understand what you’re saying and i agree; some people liked the book a lot and some, like me, were just dissapointed. there were some good bits, i’ll admit, but the weird was too out there and it just left waaaaay to many things unanswered for me to enjoy the plot. that, combined with characters i wasn’t really fond of just made this book a flop for me.

      i’m glad you enjoyed it and took the time to comment. thanks for your advice and input!

  5. Julie C.

     /  July 4, 2010

    True, it was an OK book. It had a good message, but I could of done with A LOT less cuss words. I found myself editing the book. After reading the Gemma Books, I was looking forward to the humor of this book. The humor was there, just the vocab wasn’t. I beleive the book was ment to target the young adults/teens, and it was from a teens point of view. But, (no offense Libba) most teens don’t talk like that. Or even think like that. I would give this book a 4 out of 5, but without the cussing. With the cussing, I move it down to a 2.5.The book was for 14 and up, but if, like me, you have a very “good girl” act, its hard to focus on the plot when you are editing the vocab. Sorry Libba, but I guess you can’t please all.

    • Ri

       /  July 13, 2010

      i totally agree with the language thing. cam really didnt sound like any kid my age, nor do kids get away with doing drugs so easily. i thought that of all things was rather strange. i marked it so low mostly becuase i was so dissapointed since i too really liked her other books. thanks for the input and for visiting:)

    • Athena

       /  December 4, 2010

      I didn’t like the cussing either, but I can’t think of many teenagers (besides me) who don’t think and talk like these characters. But maybe that’s just me. Glad to see someone else who doesn’t like to cuss in this world. It’s a miracle.

  6. Wanderer

     /  September 2, 2010

    Obviously you don’t have the sense of humour for this type if book so I ask why if you don’t get it hate on it
    makes no sense since you don’t have a clear interpretation of it you hate it pretty sad when me a 14 year old enjoyed and understood it very well and can point out things some one much older than them couldn’t figure out pretty sad

    • You’re right– I don’t have the sense of humor for this book. I just couldn’t get a laugh out of the stuff; it was too out there for me.

      I’m not hating on it…I was just listing the things I didn’t like about it. I was probably more critical of it because I know that Libbra Bray is an EXCELLENT writer and I was let down.

      Thanks for the comments, and it would be great if you let us know what you thought happened at the end of the book– what conclusion did you draw? What kinds of things did you notice? I’m interested because I like a good discussion, especially when people are the opposite side of myself.

      • Athena

         /  December 4, 2010

        I just wanted to say that I like that you aren’t totally hating on the book. Just stating your opinion. And you deal so well when people don’t agree with it! Good job. I wish I had that kind of self-control, haha.

      • Ri

         /  December 4, 2010

        thanks! your comment made my day :)

  7. Dani

     /  October 16, 2010

    I honestly mostly disagree with your opinion of the novel.
    1. The ending is not that terrible. I do wish that Bray was more clear though. It left the reader questioning at the end. It gives everyone a little something to discuss after reading. It’s like Inception: Was he dreaming or not? In Cameron’s case: Is he dead or alive?

    2. I didn’t find the novel confusing. It might be because I watch a lot of movies and TV programs. At some points the novel was very predictable for me.

    3. I don’t think anyone liked Cam at first. He made wrong choices, but he is a teenager. Cameron can be easily compared to Holden from Catcher in the Rye. They are the same age, they are ‘unpopular’, they make bad choices, they just don’t care about their lives, and they are negative. Being a teenager myself, I find it easier to relate to Cameron and his difficulties.

    4. The secondary characters are unique, different, creative, and just make the reader laugh. Not every character in the novel is perfect. I thought Balder was pretty bad-ass. I can relate to the friendship between Cameron and Gonzo with my brother and I.

    5. Random is almost like a theme in the novel…. but it isn’t. Dulcie did mention at one point in the novel that everything is connected randomly and that is how the novel actually ended up.

    6. This is my first experience reading a Libba Bray novel and I found it quite excellent. I thought it was very humorous.

    The novel is a slow read. It must be read slower to catch all the brilliant foreshadowing. Which I think is part of the problem of people disliking the novel. The read too fast and skip all the important details and end up confused. You just have to put up with reading it until about 1/3 of the way then you’ll be hooked. I wanted to know what happened next, I couldn’t put the novel down!

    Enjoying the novel might also be in the age category. I think it’s more relate-able to teenagers especially since we are going through major changes and get all mood-swingy. The moral brings out living life to the fullest, don’t waste it. If someone older reads the novel, they probably won’t relate as much. I recommend ages 14-20 maybe?

    Sorry, I hope I didn’t sound mean or rude. I’m just stating my opinions. :) Thank you for your review of Going Bovine! It’s fun seeing different people react to it.

    • Ri

       /  October 17, 2010

      It is one of my greatest joys to read a well-crafted statement from the opposition. Thanks for being polite ( :] ) and actually, for dissagreeing. As you can probably see from the comments here, a lot of people were half way with me, or totally against me.
      Like you said, this book was probably more relateable for teenagers and though I’m one like you, I just couldn’t connect with Cam. I guess because he is sort of my anti-thesis. Every now and then, I come across characters I just can’t stand.
      But my real issue, I guess, was that I was so let down. It was just so different from Bray’s other work, the Gemma Doyle books. I really, really, really loved those, and in comparison, this book just fell flat. I liked Gemma; I hated Cam.
      Excellent point, your first one was. That’s true that it was just like Inception which I loved. I guess that after going through all that random, I just wanted something definite.
      Anyways, thanks for your comment; they always, always make my day :)

  8. Colby

     /  October 30, 2010

    I won’t lie, I enjoyed this book.
    I agree with you on not really anything besides that fact that it dragged on. The writing was great-fabulous-but it just kept going on without much needing to.
    I actually enjoyed Camerons character. I, myself, am only 14, but I think it does show a side of our youth that most writters don’t really focus on. He was true to himself, yes a tad bit of a loner and a loser, but he was just like any other kid: not sure, afraid, and feels like he’s alone.
    Lastly, the ending was a little odd. I don’t think it was an awful ending. I think it was an interpretation ending: like she wanted you to pick in YOUR mind what you thought happened to him.
    Just my thoughts!!

    • Ri

       /  October 30, 2010

      thanks for sharing– it’s always a pleasure! it seems i’m one of the few people in the world who didn’t like this book, but everyone’s comments have made this review much richer because it offers multiple perspectives!!! i am far too excited by that concept. anyways, if you liked this i definitely recommend a great and terrible beauty, also by libba bray; and john green’s books which from what you wrote, i think you might enjoy :)
      thanks for coming and visit again soon!

  9. Rhianna

     /  April 28, 2011

    I’ve read this novel twice, and I really enjoyed it both times, though it may just be because I can deal with a lot of random things happening. I don’t know if this has been pointed out at all, but I think the one detail that makes it all make sense (and is quite easily missed) are all of the references to Schrodinger’s cat. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s basically a thought experiment that asks “If you put a cat in a box with a poisonous substance, will it live or die.” and this experiment states that it is both alive and dead until you open the box and look. So this could be applied to Cameron’s situation. Personally, I thought the randomness made sense because he was on drugs anyway, and then he was slowly going mad because of his disease. But I can also see parts that would bother you. The part that bothered me was how in the beginning, Gonzo was so close to his mum, and by the end he didn’t even care.

    • Ri

       /  April 28, 2011

      i have never heard of that experiement, but i totally get what you’re saying. the randomness apealed and made sense to a lot of people and i just did not like it. i guess i like more structured plots; or perhaps i was expecting something more strucutred and was just let down. thank you for commenting and do come back soon!

  10. Ryan

     /  May 12, 2011

    I just finsihed reading this novel. I havn’t read a lot of novel and in a stage of learning English, though I do have enough to understand this book. I personally liked it.

    I do agree on some of things you mentioned:
    – book is really confusing and have confusing ending.
    – the language that Main charcter used is not really 16 year oldish.
    – snow globe company owning sercurity stuff
    – slow pacing and dragging

    But for me, book made sence and found very interesting.
    – Schrodinger’s cat experiment to prove quantum physics (just what the upper guys said)
    – roadrunner and coyote
    – Don Quixote
    – basically analyzing and beyond thinking stuff.

    Pluse what upper guys said, when people make choice, there is a new ‘parallel Universe’ created
    Of course the authur may not aimed to write this way, bit I feel that when Carman has made the choice of ‘saving the world and get out of the hospital’, a new ‘parallel universe’ is created – one with Caraman in hospital and another going on advanture.
    Or he might be just imagining.

    THis also comes the idea of don quixote. Is he just a mad man like Don Quixote or is he really going on an advanture in parallel universe?

    Snow Globe is also somewhat interesting the Angel hated snow globe because it gives feeling that it is ‘trapping’ things inside. it has no freedom.

    Roadrunner and coyote. This has been mentioned many times through out the novel. What kind of relationship does roadrunner and coyote and Caraman has? Is Roadrunner and coyote repersent something? what can they represent? why Coyote chase after Roadrunner even he never can catch him? is it because he has somekind of hope? In book, there is a part where Coyote stop chasing and Roadrunner stop running. When Coyote stop chasing, Roadrunner has no more reasons to run and it insisted Coyote to chase after him. Perhaps they might represent ‘balance’? ‘role in sociaty’? or even ‘Life’?

    I can’t say whole alot like others about each stuff since I am still learning ways to express my thought in English.
    I usually enjoy books which requires beyound thinking. Of course I have not read many books to determine if this book is better than others, but authur sure did throw a lotof intersting ideas in this book.

  11. Kassie

     /  March 3, 2012

    With the book trying too be corky and indie, it really fell flat. When I read the back of the book, I expected something really insightful about the author’s view on “the meaning of life.” I was really disappointed at not finding her message very original (but I guess that’s a really tall order to put on a book about the meaning of life) You might as well stamped “Carpe Diem” on the book cover. I did not like how when Balder died, Cameron and Gonzo mourned for like two seconds and then just moved on with their lives. But I guess that’s another point of the book; just get use to the fact of death and dying(?) I felt like relationships sprang up out of nowhere (Dulcie and Cameron) Did Cameron love Dulcie because that was the only girl who ever talked to him? Lame. Cameron wanted to have sex with every female character in the book (Dulcie, Staci Johnson, and the rebellious girl at the CESSNAB compound) Did he want to find love or just not die a virgin? The ending was incredibly stupid. What is reality anymore? Apparently it doesn’t matter. I did learn a very little aspect of Norse mythology. That was cool.

  12. je

     /  May 4, 2012

    I actually loved this book. Yes it is long but i found it to be one of the few books that if you skip a page or to you wont understand the story. This makes it so you have to read every part to understand the situation.Another thing I don’t think the ending was the most important part it was the trip. I has been said many times its not where your going but how you get there. And lastly I tend to lean toward the Schrodinger theory two realities one Cameron living moments in both.


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