Published by: Delacorte Press (2009)
“The best day of my life happened when I was five and almost died at Disney World” – first lines from the satirical and hysterical tale of Cameron Smith, the boy who contracts mad cow disease at his employment, Buddha Burger (or so we think). After contracting this disease, he’s admitted to the hospital in where he meets an angel decked out with combat boots and hot pink hair named, Dulcie. She enrolls him to go on a quest to find Dr. X, the man who will help cure him. On this quest, Cameron is accompanied by his schoolmate, Gonzo, the Mexican dwarf, meets a gnome named Balder, and travels all around the country to find Dr. X. The end result provides Cameron with a new meaning for his life.
At a whopping 480 pages (hardcover edition), this book never appeared long or tedious. Libba Bray has a magnificent grasp on the youthful voice with a nostalgic twist. There are sections that recall the nineties MTV Spring Break reality TV shows which made this reader laugh with recognition. Apart from appealing to adults, the ability to make apathetic Cameron likable was incredible. Bray’s talent was showcased straight up and down in this novel. What worked particularly well, was the banter between Gonzo and Cameron; one could hear the dialogue clearly which never sounded stilted or forced. Teenagers all across the country are speaking, thinking, acting, and feeling like this. As an adult, I was able to empathize with Cameron through his journey. This was a delightful, fun, amusing, and playful novel on all fronts. I haven’t laughed this much while reading a book since S.G. Browne’s Breathers (see my review here). Do pick this book up when possible because you will not be disappointed.
One more thing, as a reader, one will have a sense of Libba Bray’s silliness with her acknowledgements section (located at the beginning of the book) which had me chuckling out loud. It was like reading Scott Pilgrim vs. The World in my head! It was bright, colorful, witty, and very memorable as well as having heart.
I’ll end this review with a few of the last lines (no spoilers, I promise) which is how I responded upon completion of the book.
“And there’s nothing to say but wow. Wow. The same word backward and forward. And I can see why.”