Guided only by cryptic clues from an elusive (and strangely attractive) punk rock angel named Dulcie and accompanied by a hypochondriac dwarf named Gonzo, Cameron sets off on a road trip/wild goose chase to find the enigmatic Dr. X, a physicist who disappeared as if into thin air years ago. According to Dulcie, Dr. X holds both the potential to destroy the entire world and the ability to cure Cameron’s disease. Joined along the way by a (nearly) indestructible talking yard gnome who might be the incarnation of the Norse god Balder, aided by drunken frat boys and a Portuguese warbler and a visionary jazz man, Cameron’s trip culminates in what might be the world’s wackiest spring break. By turns hilarious and tragic, GOING BOVINE above all will keep readers guessing, as they must unravel what is real, what is a dream, and whether any of that really matters.
Up until now, Libba Bray has been best known as the author of the Victorian supernatural romance trilogy started with A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY. She is certainly in no danger of being typecast with her follow-up to those books, however; here she’s channeling Douglas Adams and Kurt Vonnegut rather than Charlotte Brontë. GOING BOVINE is simultaneously perplexing and absorbing, the kind of novel that will have readers laughing in delight, not only at Balder’s one-liners but also at the kinds of absurd, amazing, seemingly random connections that tie everything together. Physics, philosophy and fantasy collide on Cameron’s journey, a road trip whose destination is both inevitable and somehow unexpected. The ending is sobering and entirely satisfactory, and challenges not only assumptions about narrative structure and voice but also larger questions about life, death and everything in between. GOING BOVINE is both hopeful and hilarious, the kind of novel in which hope, hilarity and wonder drive side by side.