Going Bovine provides readers with a journey through the main character’s (Cameron) fight for his life when battling mad cow disease. As Cameron’s guide Dulcie says “everything’s connected Cameron. There are no accidents” (p.117) which becomes apparent throughout the adventure. Readers in the young adult age group may especially relate to the teen drinking, drug use and sex that is peppered throughout the novel, involved enough to make the characters seem real without being overwhelming.
Young adults reading this title will likely be left with two strong thoughts that may influence their behavior. First, not to take anything for granted. Cameron does not particularly enjoy his life prior to finding out he has mad cow disease, but is willing to go on a very long and strange journey to save it when he realizes he may die. Second, that everything is connected. The simple act of Cameron giving Keith the ’magic screw’ (p. 360)after Dulcie describes how Keith’s experiences on that day will lead him to drop out of school, go overseas and die in the war (p. 356-7), saves his life by making him the base for a television program (p. 390). The idea of connectedness is played out in many ways throughout the story, and will encourage young adults to think about how their actions may affect others. As this age group is generally short sighted in relation to the long term consequences of their actions, a gentle reminder to think about what they do will have a positive influence on readers.
The fast paced and odd story line is likely to encourage readers to follow along quickly, and be surprised with the messages given throughout the text. As Suzanne Gordon says in a School Library Journal review “many will enjoy asking themselves the questions both deep and shallow that pop up along the way.” Libba Bray’s writing allows the deeper questions to evolve over time and throughout the journey, which may encourage a deeper thought process for young adult readers.
Gordon, S. (2009). “Going Bovine.” School Library Journal 55(9), 151. Accessed through WilsonWeb database.