Going Bovine, by Libba Bray
This wacky YA novel features a sixteen-year-old boy who contracts Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease, or the human form of mad cow disease. With just weeks left to live, Cameron starts seeing visions of a pink-haired punky angel with what seems like ADD. The angel Dulcie sends Cameron and his friend Gonzo, a hypochondriac dwarf who loves video games, on the mission of a lifetime: to save the universe and cure Cameron. Along the way, they meet a lot of bizarre characters, and acquire a third companion: the Norse god Balder, who’s been imprisoned on Earth in the form of a lawn gnome.
Bray maps her novel loosely onto Don Quixote, with Dulcie/Dulcinea, the possibly fictional love interest, Gonzo as a Sancho Panza figure, the noble steed Rocinante (here, a beat-up Cadillac), and the madcap quest to live life to the fullest. Tilting at windmills is just the tip of this iceberg.
Purely enjoyable, from start to finish. Bray certainly strikes sad chords, given Cameron’s illness and the more usual teenage trials (romance, family dynamics, growing up). There are some dark, surprisingly twisted parts, like when Cameron gets trapped by a cult that worships mindless “happiness” at any cost. But it’s all shot through with a zany, hilarious creativity that is a pleasure to experience.
The 213 in 2013 series chronicles every book I read in 2013. Each review contains exactly 213 words, because 2013 words is too long and 2013 characters is too dang short.
One year ago today: A love song to airplane food and swamps