I ♥ “Going Bovine.” A thinking-teen’s novel.

If you’re looking for a smart, entertaining book that will make your teen think then “Going Bovine” by Libba Bray (ages 13 – up; references to sex and drugs) is just what the doctor ordered.

Unfortunately, not far into “Going Bovine” our angst-ridden, 16-year old, slacker of a hero Cameron gets some seriously bad news from his doctor: he’s got Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease.  A.K.A. Mad Cow.  Which totally sucks.

Hope arrives in the winged form of Dulcie, a super hot, cheeky, neon-pink punk angel(or possible hallucination) with a bad sugar habit.  She confides that there’s a secret cure to his otherwise fatal disease—if he’s willing to go in search of it.

With the help of a death-obsessed, video-gaming dwarf and a pint-sized yard gnome, Cameron sets off on the mother of all road trips through a twisted America into the heart of what matters most.

This “quest” story has clear parallels to the hopeless but inspirational efforts of Don Quixote, about whom Cameron had been reading before his illness.

Libba Bray’s voice is strong, confident and clever.  She crafts a road-trip story that is original, laugh-out-loud funny, and gorgeously poignant.

The voice is so fresh, the imagery so intriguing, and the conclusion — inevitable — yet profound leaves one wondering what exactly was reality and what was hallucinatory.

Recommended to teens and adults alike.

It’s not a perfect book.  A bit too long and perhaps a tad too fantastical in places, but Cameron is ultimately a kid with a heart the size of Cleveland.  He will leave the most cynical teen (or adult) thinking about what they’re thankful for and pondering what really matters to them in this mad-cow, crazy world.

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