Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Cowtastic! (No it's not about cows)

In this ambitious novel, Cameron, a 16-year-old slacker whose somewhat dysfunctional family has just about given up on him, as perhaps he himself has, when his diagnosis of Creutzfeldt-Jacob, "mad cow" disease, reunites them, if too late. The heart of the story, though, is a hallucinatory—or is it?—quest with many parallels to the hopeless but inspirational efforts of Don Quixote, about whom Cameron had been reading before his illness. Just like the crazy—or was he?—Spaniard, Cam is motivated to go on a journey by a sort of Dulcinea. His pink-haired, white-winged version goes by Dulcie and leads him to take up arms against the Dark Wizard and fire giants that attack him intermittently, and to find a missing Dr. X, who can both help save the world and cure him. Cameron's Sancho is a Mexican-American dwarf, game-master hypochondriac he met in the pot smokers' bathroom at school who later turns up as his hospital roommate. Bray blends in a hearty dose of satire on the road trip as Cameron leaves his Texas deathbed—or does he?—to battle evil forces with a legendary jazz horn player, to escape the evil clutches of a happiness cult, to experiment with cloistered scientists trying to solve the mysteries of the universe, and to save a yard gnome embodying a Viking god from the clutches of the materialistic, fame-obsessed MTV-culture clones who shun individual thought. It's a trip worth taking, though meandering and message-driven at times. Some teens may check out before Cameron makes it to his final destination, but many will enjoy asking themselves the questions both deep and shallow that pop up along the way.

My Review:  Sorry for the huge time gap where I disappeared into limbo.  Being sick and catching up on homework is more time consuming than I thought.  Okay so onto my review!  Libba's new novel is completely different from the Gemma Doyle Trilogy.  Different doesn't mean bad!  Different means utterly fantastical!   As the description says this is not your average YA novel.  It's ten times more epic.  Though the tone of the novel is lighthearted, it represents an all too serious theme.  Cameron is witty and hysterical and overall a complete lazy oaf, but in the most adorable way possible.  The side kick characters aren't annoying (okay well Gonzo is a tad bit) but they are endearing and loveable.  After all who doesn't love a displaced Viking God in lawn gnome form and a Mexican dwarf?  I mean that's just plain hysterical.  They are one of the great aspects of this novel.  Libba never gets predictable, and the events are always throwing you for a loop.  From the beginning I ultimately guessed the end "revelation" but it didn't ruin it for me.  It is hinted at throughout the novel in a very obvious way, but it adds to the story.  The ending was sad and happy at the same time and was ultimately satisfying.  If you've read Libba's blog you'll definitely appreciate he amazing wit that went into her latest novel.  A great read that will leave you laughing until you cry, and smiling while crying.