A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know this wacky novel features a teenager's death, a punk angel, and plenty of edgy behavior by teens (condom-free sex, drinking, pot-smoking, and running away). Lots of salty language, too.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
When Cameron, a high-school slacker, finds out he has fatal mad cow disease, he sets out on an epic quest to find a cure and maybe save the world, too. Accompanied by his friends -- Gonzo, a dwarf, and Balder, a Viking god disguised as a long-suffering yard gnome (don't ask) -- Cameron faces an increasingly bizarre series of misadventures involving a punk angel, New Orleans jazz musicians, and snow globes in this very postmodern retelling of Don Quixote.
Is it any good?
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the CESSNAB, the cult-like youth compound with the motto, "Don't hurt your happiness." Would you want to live in a place like that? Was it a utopia or dystopia?
Would you want to participate in a "realitymercial" where you could order custom-made lives? What is the author trying to say about "reality" TV?
Why do you think the author chose to make a yard gnome a key character in the novel?
For kids who love adventure
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