“Holy Cow” by David Duchovny: Review

Holy Cow is the story of Elsie Bovary, a cow, who wrote down her memoirs for the reader (with a little help from co-author David Duchovny).

Elsie enjoys the quiet happy farm life she has lead ever since she was born. It mostly consists of sleeping, eating and spending time with her friends. The only thing she sometimes misses is her mother, who had been taken away years ago. Elsie doesn’t know where her mother went but she knows that this was how it always had been, mothers just left after some time and fathers were not really around to begin with. Nevertheless she couldn’t be more content with the life she was leading. Up until one day when Elsie and her best friend Mallory realise that they have the sudden urge to meet the bulls who are kept on another part of the farm. So they come up with the plan to escape their stable, by heavily relying on the oldest son’s inclination to forget to close the gates due to being constantly distracted by his phone.
When they actually manage to go and see the bulls Elsie is not nearly as interested in them as her friend Mallory is and so she decides she’d rather go down to the farm house and see what is happening there. What she sees when she looks through the window at the TV changes her whole life: the farmers are watching a program about meat production and all of a sudden Elsie’s whole world turns upside down.
After she has regained from the shock, Elsie decides to leave the farm as quick as possible. She learns about a country called India, where cows are seen as divine creatures, not eaten and that’s her destination. During her preparations she is joined by Jerry, or rather Shalom, a pig that converted to Judaism and wants to go to Israel, because people don’t eat pork there, and Tom, a turkey who cannot fly and who thinks that he’d be save in Turkey, because people there sure wouldn’t eat the an animal that is named after their country right? Both of the companions come in very handy during the journey, especially Tom, who can operate the touchscreen of a smartphone with his beak. On their journey the three friends get involved in a lot of adventures, from hijacking an airplane to accidentally reuniting Israelis and Palestinians.

What could easily also be the plot of an animated children’s movie turns out to be a delightful story about so much more than just three farm animals making a run for it. David Duchovny’s witty writing style and lots and lots of pop cultural references make this book a great choice for some light and funny reading.

“Noughts & Crosses” by Malorie Blackman: Review

A boy is finally allowed to go to a better school, which he could not do so far, due to his skincolour. While he is more than happy about getting a better education, he is still being bullied, because of the way he looks. Sound like an awefully familiar part of history?
But what Malorie Blackman actually does in her Noughts & Crosses series, is reverse the historical roles.
The Noughts & Crosses series are dystopian novels about a society that has not developed the way our world did. In this world, the African people (Crosses) did manage to evolve much faster in various areas and therefore enslaved the white population (Noughts). This first novel is set shortly after slavery was abolished, but it is still looked down upon the Noughts and they generally live very poorly.
This is the world in which the protagonists of the novel, Callum and Sephy, grow up. Sephy is the daughter of a very important and influencal Cross, while Callum is the youngest son of a Nought family, who’s mother works for Sephy’s family. So they basically grow up together as children and only later in their lives are confronted with their differences. The story evolves around their friendship and the problems their different social backgrounds bring with them.
The novel follows Sephy and Callum throughout their childhood and teenage lives up until their young adult life. The reader sees how they develop together and without each other.
What starts out as a very basic tale about love and friendship develops into a thrilling, critical and heartbreaking page-turner.

When I first started reading the book I expected it to be a very classical young adult love story set in an interesting dystopian world, but I soon realised that there was much more to this book. Blackman tells the story of a whole society through the eyes of two young people who struggle with their place in it.
While the setting is, of course, fictional, the topics and problems Blackman addresses, like racism, terrorism or prejudices, seem way too familiar while reading.
Although I didn’t expect it at first the book really gripped me and I had to read it in one go. One reason for that, apart from the fact that it is absolutely well written, is probably that it doesn’t happen very often that a book can surprise me and that a story can turn out completely differntly from what I expected.