2010 Michael L. Printz Award Winner for Young Adult Literature
All sixteen-year-old Cameron wants is to get through high school—and life in general—with a minimum of effort. It’s not a lot to ask. But that’s before he’s given some bad news: he’s sick and he’s going to die. Which totally sucks.
Hope arrives in the form of Dulcie, a loopy punk angel/possible hallucination with a bad sugar habit. She tells Cam there is a cure—if he’s willing to go in search of it. With the help of Gonzo, a death-obsessed, video-gaming dwarf, and a yard gnome who just might be the Viking god Balder, Cam sets off on the mother of all road trips through a twisted America into the heart of what matters most.
“An unforgettable, nearly indefinable fantasy adventure.”-Starred Review, Booklist, August 1, 2009
…manages to turn a hopeless situation into a hilarious and hallucinatory quest, featuring an asthmatic teenage dwarf, Gonzo; a pink-haired angel in combat boots, Dulcie; and Balder, a Norse god who is cursed with the form of a garden gnome…Libba Bray not only breaks the mold of the ubiquitous dying-teenager genre—she smashes it and grinds the tiny pieces into the sidewalk. For the record, I’d go anywhere she wanted to take me.
—The New York Times (Lisa Von Drasek)
Cameron Smith, 16, is slumming through high school, overshadowed by a sister “pre-majoring in perfection,” while working (ineptly) at the Buddha Burger. Then something happens to make him the focus of his family’s attention: he contracts mad cow disease. What takes place after he is hospitalized is either that a gorgeous angel persuades him to search for a cure that will also save the world, or that he has a vivid hallucination brought on by the disease. Either way, what readers have is an absurdist comedy in which Cameron, Gonzo (a neurotic dwarf) and Balder (a Norse god cursed to appear as a yard gnome) go on a quixotic road trip during which they learn about string theory, wormholes and true love en route to Disney World. Bray’s surreal humor may surprise fans of her historical fantasies about Gemma Doyle, as she trains her satirical eye on modern education, American materialism and religious cults (the smoothie-drinking members of the Church of Everlasting Satisfaction and Snack ‘N’ Bowl). Offer this to fans of Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy seeking more inspired lunacy. Ages 14–up. (Sept.)
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)