This book is geared for a bit older than what I’ve been reading lately.
Synopsis, and spoilers ahead: Cameron is a reject among rejects. He has no interests, is clumsy, awkward, in general a disappointment. As of late, he’s going crazy: he hallucinates and loses control of his body. His parents take him to a doctor when they witness him attempting to fight the toaster, and he’s diagnosed with mad cow. While in St. Jude’s, he is given a mission by a punky angel Dulcie: find Dr. X; save the world. He must follow coincidences to find him. He’s instructed to take a friend, Gonzo (a hypochondriac midget), and is given an E-pass for Disney World, which will keep him healthy for two weeks. His “disease” helps him see what’s truly there that others can’t see.
His journey is friggin’ crazy. He goes to New Orleans (Mardi Gras), and is involved in a “Devil went down to Georgia” kind of bet with a trumpet player. He gets stuck in a “happy commune,” which he brings madness to. He rescues a garden gnome/Norse god, Balder, and takes him along. He ends up on Youth America’s Spring Break, and gets laid. He goes to Disney World and finds Dr. X in Tomorrowland. He learns that the whole point of the journey was to teach him to live. He wakes up in the hospital with it all in his head, and he dies knowing that the last two weeks he truly lived.
- Well-written, but hesitant to say I liked or disliked it. Libba Bray is like that.
- The coincidences Cameron follows are INSANE. To name a few, Wil E. Coyote, Disney World, feathers, and jazz music.
- Kelly Link (on the back of the book) describes this as the alternative Phantom Tollbooth if Holden Caulfield hit Milo over the head, stole the token, car, and tollbooth. I agree.
- Throw in Wizard of Oz while we’re at it. Goes on a great adventure and it’s all in your head. But as Dumbledore says, “Of course it’s in your head, but who says it isn’t real?” (Dumbledore may have a quote for everything.)
- Cameron is a pain. He’s the sloth kid that has no interests except drugs, masturbation, and the occasional vinyl record. His passive aggressive parents do not help.
- Moral of the story: Live your life! Don’t whine about it!
- Long rant: I have always loved the name Cameron. But between Going Bovine and Ferris Beuller’s Day Off, I’m seriously questioning that name for future child. I mean, it’s like the child would be destined to never take a chance. I mean, Bovine Cameron won’t try recommended music for crying out loud. I suppose I could teach future Cameron how to speak French to pick up chicks (10 things I hate about you),or hope that he/she will be born blonde & with the ability to have a beach body (Cameron Diaz), although genetics would probably fight against both. So far though, I haven’t had a student named Cameron, so on the teacher-front, I’m okay. Literary front, questionable.
Grades: High school, 10th & above. It’s got language. There’s sex and drugs. It’s really trippy.
Grade: B. I read it in a day, and it’s a huge book. Libba Bray is one of those authors that you can’t stop reading, but afterwards you’re ambivalent about what you just read. The alternative kids would like it pretty well. I’m giving it the B for the effort and the writing. And it got a Printz award for 2010. Yay awards!