Parents' Guide to

Going Bovine

By Stephanie Dunnewind, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Edgy, quirky road trip fantasy skewers reality TV and more.

Book Libba Bray Fantasy 2009
Going Bovine Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 5 parent reviews

age 14+

It was good

i read this book a few years ago when i was fifteen and it really opened me up. i was at first very nervous about all of the cursing and everything about sex but as i read on the swearing was really not all that bad for me, sure it felt like it came out of left field at first but where wouldnt this be applied. as i read the story i enjoyed how the little details made me see the world differently. i read this book many times and i took away a different lesson each time. it seems there are two kinds of readers when it comes to this book however, those who love it and those who hate it, i am the one who loves it because of the lessons that it taught me, for example dont be afraid to go on an adventure for once, and that you really should be more patient with people. this book was also a book about death so it is a little grim at times as it alludes to it all through out but in the end you were taken on the most wild adventure. while again there is swearing and sex i know for a fact that many schools in my state make people read huckleberry finn which uses the 'N-word" and many books i read in elementary school, like the chronicals of narnia and such, featured swears too. i learned the word 'ass' by the second grade. so as long as your young teen knows what your policy is on swearing and such this book really should not be a hot button. let your child read it, its really good for them.
age 18+


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.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (5 ):
Kids say (12 ):

Fans of Bray's Gemma Doyle trilogy (A Great and Terrible Beauty) will recognize the alternative-world fantasy elements in this book, but any resemblance ends there. Though the middle section stretches too long as Cameron moves from one absurd situation to the next, readers will stick with Bovine for its male bonding and humorous send-ups of fast-food restaurants, self-esteem, and reality shows. The over-the-top elements ultimately serve a quieter purpose, asking teens to ponder what it means to really live an engaged life.

Book Details

  • Author: Libba Bray
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press
  • Publication date: September 22, 2009
  • Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 17
  • Number of pages: 496
  • Last updated: July 12, 2017

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate