Study Guide

Going Bovine

By Libba Bray

Going Bovine Introduction

In the interest of full disclosure, we feel like we should let you know that Going Bovine is a book about a dying teen. But before you write it off as another sad-sack story, rest assured that this book is also hilarious, full of adventure, and you'll only cry, like, twice. Okay, maybe three times. But that's it, we promise—and you'll definitely laugh way more often.

Published in 2009, Going Bovine is a dark comedy that follows a hallucinated epic quest to save the universe as imagined by Cameron, a sullen sixteen-year-old who is dying of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a.k.a. mad cow disease. He's accompanied by a germaphobic gamer dwarf with an afro, a punk-rock angel with a sugar habit, and a Norse god trapped in a garden gnome's body. See? We told you there'd be laughs.

Author Libba Bray specializes in hysterical non-sequiturs, actually funny puns, and a conversational style that makes reading feel like hanging out with a particularly funny friend. But you don't have to take our word for it—this book won the 2010 Michael L. Printz Award, which honors the best book written for teens each year. See? Bray nails this one.

So if you enjoy books that incorporate humor, adventure, fantasy, and weigh almost one whole pound, you get your hands on a copy of Going Bovine, pronto. And sure, maybe grab a tissue or two while you're at it.

What is Going Bovine About and Why Should I Care?

Life can be a major drag, right? Especially when you're a teen. Parents are notoriously embarrassing, siblings are epic pains in the butt, and the social shark tank that is high school doesn't make things easier. In fact, the easiest thing about the teen years just might be understanding why so many teens check out emotionally. Life can be kind of overwhelming, you know?

If this sounds like a good plan to you, Going Bovine is here to stop you in your tracks. See, when we meet him, Cam couldn't agree more that disengaging is the best way to survive growing up. He's all about numbness, not caring, and not getting hurt. Only trouble is that this means he also doesn't have much fun or experience much meaning in his day-to-day life. In other words, instead of helping him navigate the drag, Cam's approach simply makes his life more of a drag. Mission totally not accomplished.

We all check out from time to time, so consider Cam your guide to checking back in. Is it easy? Nope. Does it involve taking some risks? Absolutely. But in the end, it's also undeniably worth it. Boom.

Going Bovine Resources


All the Thoughts from Libba Bray
Check out Bray's blog, where she leaves no stone of interest to her unturned.

Libba Bray, the Whole Package
This is Bray's official author website and your one-stop shop for all things related to the author and her books.

Going Nowhere
Looking for a bit of anticlimax in your day? Then this website is definitely for you. That's all we'll say.


Go Deep
In this interview, Bray really opens up about her life and how it's influenced her writing.

Let's Talk
Bray talks motherhood, writing tips, and much more in this conversational interview. Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy.


Schrödinger's Cat Paradox Illustrated
Quantum physics is hard, to, and Schrödinger's Cat paradox is confusing. This video makes both seem easy to understand and funny. Give this guy a Nobel Prize already.

Bray in a Cow Suit
Libba Bray gives a little humorous interview for Going Bovine. Unsurprisingly, she's pretty funny in real life, not just on the page.


Cover Art
One thing's certain: This cover lets you know that things won't only be serious in the book.

Check out one fan's interpretation of Dulcie. Is this how you picture her?