Finished February 22
Going Bovine by Libba Bray
This prize-winning teen novel has the read following sixteen-year-old Cameron Smith. Cameron is not in the popular crowd at school, although his twin sister Jenna is. He is a bit of a loner, but has an interest in music, often hanging out at a local vinyl shop, Eubie's. This is where he discovered a little-known Portuguese love song singer known as The Great Tremolo and became hooked on his stuff for reasons he finds hard to put into words. Eubie is trying to turn him onto jazz, specifically Junior Webster, but Cameron isn't convinced.
Cameron's mom teaches English at the local community college and has trouble completing projects. Cameron's dad is a physicist at the local university, a strong believer in old-school physics. Cameron sometimes hangs out with the stoners in the fourth floor men's room, but he isn't as reliant on the substance as most of them, This is where he first meets Gonzo, a fellow student, a dwarf, and a big gamer. When Gonzo moves into his room in the hospital, he finds out Gonzo also has an over-protective mother and a lot of fears.
Cameron starts to have odd visions involving fire, giants, feathers, angels and other things that don't fit into his normal experiences. One outburst causes him to lose his job at Buddha Burger. When his parents take him in for medical evaluation following a try at therapy, medication and an episode, he is diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, otherwise known as mad cow disease. There is no cure to this progressive neurological disease, but Cameron is admitted to the hospital to undergo some experimental treatments in hope that something might work for him.
It is here that Cameron is approached directly by the angel he has been seeing occasionally, Dulcie, and instructed to go on a quest for a missing scientist that may be able to provide a cure for his disease. He is given vague instructions and told to take Gonzo with him, and the two boys go off on an adventure like no other. Leading them from their home in Texas to the clubs and cemeteries of New Orleans to a cult in Georgia to Florida student parties, Cameron follows the signs as he sees them, dragging Gonzo along with him, finding an additional companion in a Balder, the Norse god confined in the guise of a yard gnome, and with occasional assistance from Dulcie. The fire giants continue to pursue Cameron and there is an interesting development in the growing presence of a snow globe company.
Looking at what Cameron experienced prior to his hospitalization, the reader can see the roots of his adventure. This is an interesting look into the mind, the power of suggestion and the angst of being a teenager. An amazing read.