Welcome to Forgotten Fridays. This mission of this feature is, twice a month, to review books that are more than a year old. And we review them TOGETHER! Most reviews have minor spoilers because it is hard to block them out in a back and forth dialogue about a book. So keep that in mind when reading, though we do try to not mention anything that would ruin a book for anyone.
This week, we have Kara and Lyn reviewing Going Bovine by Libba Bray. Kara DNFed the title, and Lyn awarded 3 stars to the book. The discussion of the material, however, delves deep into some personal thoughts and habits of the two bloggers.
All 16-year-old Cameron wants is to get through high school—and life in general—with a minimum of effort. It’s not a lot to ask. But that’s before he’s given some bad news: he’s sick and he’s going to die. Which totally sucks. Hope arrives in the winged form of Dulcie, a loopy punk angel/possible hallucination with a bad sugar habit. She tells Cam there is a cure—if he’s willing to go in search of it. With the help of a death-obsessed, video-gaming dwarf and a yard gnome, Cam sets off on the mother of all road trips through a twisted America into the heart of what matters most.
Lyn: So, you said you had to DNF the book?
Kara: Yeah. I tried really hard to. I even pushed myself past the point of where I normally would stop because I REAAAAALLLLLYY wanted to do it for you, but I ended up quitting at around 64%. Basically, my main issue was that I just could NOT get into the story at all, due to the fact that I was pretty sure everything was all a dream because of his illness. And why would I want to read a book that is all a dream? What is the point? I figured I would just let YOU tell me. Also, I really didn’t connect with the protagonist either.
Lyn: So what would have helped you keep your interest?
Kara: If it was not a dream. Honestly, I just have never been a fan of that plot thread. I had no idea if any of the stuff that was going on was real or not, but I was like 99% sure it wasn’t. And then I thought about how I didn’t think there was any way he was going to actually cure his illness like he was trying to do, and I just didn’t want to read a book with an unhappy (albeit realistic) ending like that. It was just too depressing. Obviously diseases aren’t cured by magic. So what would have kept me reading? I guess if I was reading another book. >.<
Lyn: Ha! Touche! I am going to give the book a 3 star rating, because I loved the symbolism and I ended up liking some of the secondary characters. One of the biggest issues I faced was the pacing. Sometimes, things took way too long to resolve, or some parts seemed to drag on forever. This is also going to sound so snotty of me, but I just do not seem to enjoy teenage boy humor (drug use, fart jokes, boners, etc etc). I don’t connect well with that level at all.
Kara: Yeah, I did like the drag queen. That’s about it. And I SO agree about the pacing. It was ALL over the place. I felt like I was reading different vignettes that never seemed to have any resolution. It’s so funny that you mention the crude humor, but I didn’t even seem to notice it that much. I’ve spent a major portion of my life spending time with men (friends, my husband, my dad) who never hid that kind of humor from me, so I actually usually find it hilarious, but I didn’t even notice much of it here! So weird. I know you mentioned to me earlier in the week about the CESSNAB part of the book and I am curious to see what your thoughts were there.
Lyn: That was my favorite part of the book, even with the Viking/Norse portions. That section could have been a book on its own, and I would have loved the ever living hell out of it. Anything that takes an honest yet harsh jab at organized religion is okay in my book. It was welcoming to see an author write about the pros of feelings negative emotions. What was your take on it?
Kara: I read that part because I wanted to at least get to that so we could discuss it. I quit not long after that. I actually really thought it was interesting. You are right, I loved the jabs at organized religion and just how stupid it is (I am not attacking spirituality, just the need to go to church every Sunday), and I really liked the characters and their actions during that section of the book. One thing that sort of bothered me though was the mention of being happy all the time as a bad thing. I know it was sort of resolved but it still resonated with me. As someone that faces depression and anxiety daily, I would give my right arm to be happy all the time. And I really think that something like that should never be taken for granted. If you are a person that truly IS happy all the time, that is so NOT a bad thing. Other than that, I really did enjoy it though. I loved how ridiculous the bowling alley and the milk shakes were. The symbolism was great in that chapter.
Lyn: I never looked at that angle before. I found that part one of the best, because I like how it pointed out that being happy all of the time is a lie. As someone who fights depression, it irritates me when people (who are clueless about depression) tell me to just “be happy”. You can’t simply overcome the negative feelings without going through them. Ignoring hurtful or sad feelings doesn’t cause happiness.
Kara: You are absolutely right. I think it delved deeper than what I am saying, and I sort of remember reading that this author deals with depression herself, I just think there are different ways to interpret that chapter. I see what you are saying, definitely. Maybe I just was so beyond caring at that point that I just started to see everything as an offense to my sensibilities. Hey, at least I am being honest. I definitely think you have a valid interpretation and probably more along the lines with what the author was aiming for.
Lyn: I’m glad you also brought up the bowling. I think I get so worn down fighting every day battles that I forget that these struggles define who I am. I almost felt uncomfortable reading about the bowling because I have wished time and time again for things to simply get “easier” or to abandon any opportunity to make a decision. Our brains are wired to constantly solve issues. Having an easy life isn’t the best solution. I keep thinking about the boy in the bowling alley (I can’t recall his name). He didn’t want to feel like a winner to overcome his sadness, he wanted someone to validate what he was feeling, and he wanted some support. I like that richness in that metaphor. Simplicity does solve the problem, support and care is medicine that is often overlooked.
Kara: Yeah, the bowling did definitely make me uncomfortable. I love how you mentioned brains being wired to solve issues, and I think that’s absolutely where my problem lies. I have the inability to let things go. When something is wrong (which is almost ALWAYS), I feel this immediate need to solve it, and I obsess about it until I am as unhappy as I possibly can be. As far as the boy in the bowling alley goes, sometimes just having someone be there for you is all it takes. People don’t know how to solve our problems. Even our nearest and dearest family members are at a loss as to how to help us. The simple fact is that they can’t. The best thing a family member can do is to be a great listener, a support system, and willing to spend time with you even when you are at your most miserable. In the long run that is what will really raise you up. Well, that and medication. That helps a lot too. 😛
Lyn: Sometimes, there is no solution. Agreed – sometimes, we just need for someone to LISTEN. I tend to wrap my worries and my irritation in a blanket of anger or a wad of tearful emotions, and it takes people around me, or even myself, to get to the center of it all to find out what the real issue is at hand. The whole CESSNAB was like reverse “thoughtcrimes”. Still just as damning, as well.
Oh, how I wish that section was in a separate book! There were some GREAT parts of the story, but the whole novel was so bogged down. I think that this book should have been a series, or multiple parts. It was very dense and very overwhelming, but it was so brilliant!
Kara: I am with you. I think I would have enjoyed it a ton if it was a separate book. Almost everything leading up to that point was just utterly boring for me. When I got to that part, there was a glimmer of interest. By then I was too far gone to enjoy the book or keep going, but I really did connect to that part.
The one thing I feel I must mention is that even though I disliked this book and it was not for me, I do enjoy Libba Bray’s writing. I mean, The Diviners is one of my favorite paranormal books and probably will always be. I am DYING to get my hands on a copy of the sequel. So my dislike only has to do with the plot and subject matter and not the actual components of the book. It all comes back to me strongly disliking books that are all a dream. Meh.
Lyn: Oh, note to our readers; SAD AS HELL BOOK!! Don’t come here looking for rainbows and unicorn dreams.
This one would have rated higher if it wasn’t like running through molasses in December. But I can’t give it anything lower because of VIKINGS! Kudos for Viking justice in the book!
Kara:: Hahaha! Agreed. I know this book one the Printz award, and there goes another strike-out for me. I have had zero luck with Printz winners so far. Both have been DNFs. O_O And yeah, this book is really freaking depressing.
Lyn: Printz = We hate happiness.
Kara: Yeah. I am beginning to think that myself. Wah wahhhh.
Lyn: Will our next read be a fun one? I haven’t even looked at the description. I just auto buy what you tell me to buy.
Kara: I hope so! It’s a dystopian set in a flooded New Orleans. I have heard good things.
Lyn: 3 Stars
Would you like to join in on a Forgotten Friday discussion? Comment and let us know! We’ll list the next book to give our readers the chance to jump in!
Coming up next Friday:
Orleans by Sherri L. Smith