To clarify, I’m not trying to say there’s anything cow-like about the author in question—I had the good fortune of meeting her earlier this year, which is a little tidbit of achievement I carry around with pride (and I totally high-fived her), and quite on the contrary, she was lovely, quite a bundle of eccentricity, wit and joy. It’s always interesting looking at authors as people beside their work and seeing how much of them comes through in their words. Naturally enough, as a good portion of the heart and soul ends up in one’s writing eventually, and the works of Libba Bray are certainly lovely bundles of eccentricity, wit and joy too.
She certainly has a satirical head on her shoulders, or at least, has something strong to say in each of her stories, whether it’s through outright madcap satire or woven through as an underlayer. A favourite topic seems to be a critique and examination of American culture, and the delicious mess of consumerism and contradictions within. She dances in and out of different genres, from urban fantasy to surrealism to contemporary young adult stories gone wacky, but within each she retains a bouncy prose and interesting voice with a message to convey. Beauty Queens, for example, was the first novel of hers I read, the tale of a plane full of teen beauty pageant participants crash landing on a deserted island leading to a game of survival starring shoe catapults, political takeover plots and a representation of just about every issue in modern culture. So there you go.
Going Bovine is possibly slightly more ridiculous, following an apathetic teenaged boy diagnosed with mad cow disease on a road trip across the country to piece together clues that will save the world from supernatural doom. He’s guided by a cute, sweet-toothed angel who dyes and spray-paints her wings and the Viking god Balder trapped in the form of a garden gnome, among others. I think that tells you everything you need to know about the tone of the book. Continue reading