Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Going Bovine by Libba Bray

Cameron is dying of mad cow disease.  His only hope is to go on a mission laid out to him by Dulcie, an angel.  With his sort of friend Gonzo, a hypochondriac dwarf, and a yard gnome who's really the Viking god Balder, Cameron goes off to find Dr. X, the only man who can cure him.  Cameron's also suppose to save the world while he's at it.

I hated this.  Like, actually hated it.  I can't say I hate a lot of books.  Actually, the only other book I can think of that I actually hated is Ethan Frome.   It's rare that I have such a strong negative reaction to a book, because usually if I don't like a book, I just stop reading it and that's it.  So I think the fact that I made myself go through it, disliking it the whole time, has now turned to bitter, bitter hatred.

I tried to read Going Bovine when it first came out, because I like Libba Bray.  I disliked it enough that a hundred pages in I stopped reading it, because life's too short to read bad books.  Then it won the Printz.  I was outraged.  How the hell did it win the Printz?  My only answer was that the committee was trying to be edgy that year, what with Going Bovine and The Monstrumologist and Punkzilla.

So why, you may ask, have I read it now?  Well, because the YA book group I'm in was reading it.  So I thought I'd listen to the audio, because at least that way I'd be able to get through it.  So I got through it.  And now I hate it, and I also hated the audio.  Let's talk about the audio first.  It was read by Erik Davies, a man on whose lips teenage slang sounds absolutely ridiculous.  So there was that.  There was also the fact that every single female character, regardless of what her personality was like, was represented with a high pitched, breathy voice that was pissing me off SO MUCH.  Also, the dialogue in the book itself was just not that great and having it read aloud highlighted that fact.  So I don't recommend the audio.

But I don't recommend the book itself either.  It was a long (really long) confusing mishmash with a meandering plot that disappears for considerable lengths of time.  And it was also suppose to be a retelling of Don Quixote, but it just didn't work.  Cameron kept having these encounters and experiences along his journey that added absolutely nothing to the trip.  For example, Cameron spends five days living with a cult, then he and Gonzo run away.  There was no point to it.  Cameron didn't learn anything, didn't grow, there were no character developments and there were no new characters introduced that we actually needed.  It was a complete waste of time to make it fit with the Don Quixote theme.  The issue with that is I'm assuming most people who would pick up Going Bovine won't have read Don Quixote, so they won't see a connection and all it will seem is a waste of time.  There was a lot of that.

Another issue I had was that the book was filled with unpleasant characters that I just didn't care about.  Not at all.  I didn't care what happened to Cameron, or Gonzo, or the yard gnome, or anyone.  I just couldn't connect with any of the people in this story, and that makes it very hard to care about, much less enjoy a book.

Now before people get all pissy, I like Libba Bray.  Really, I do.  She's funny and fascinating.  I listened to her Printz acceptance speech, and it was a very nice speech and made me totally want to hang out with her.  But I still didn't like her book.  So there we are.  Maybe I'll give Beauty Queens a try.

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