Thursday, 24 November 2011

Just In Case by Meg Rosoff

Publisher: Puffin
Format: Paperback
Published: 7th June 2007
Number of Pages: 256
Book: Borrowed From The Library
Genre: Realistic-Fiction, Contemporary, Paranormal, Romance, Fantasy, YA
Recommended Age: 14+
Contains: Violence, Death, Sexual and Alchol References, Swearing
Author's Site: Meg Rosoff

Every minute of every day, a million things happen.
The day David Case saves his brother’s life, his whole word changes.  Suddenly every moment is fizzing with what ifs, and it’s up to David to outwit fate.  Or try to.
He changes his name and the way he looks.  He leaves home and finds himself caught up in a series of strange and extraordinary misadventures.  He even falls in love.
But is David really in control of himself?  And if he isn’t – who is?

“I can look down across the world and see everything. For instance, I can see you.”
David Case is obsessed with Fate, and trying to outwit him/it.  Everywhere he turns, he can’t help thinking of all the worst scenarios, all the what-ifs.  He’s certain Fate has it in for him.  Just so happens: he’s right.
Just In Case is another great book by one of my favourite authors.  I wish I had Meg Rosoff’s genius mind.  Like all her books, Just In Case was completely different from anything else I’ve read.  Who else would think of using Fate as a character?  I know this has received some bad reviews, and I admit it wasn’t the cheeriest book out there, but it was so full of Rosoff’s quirkiness and brilliance: how could I not love it?
David saves his brother, and that’s when he decides Fate’s out to get him.  He changes his name to Justin – Justin Case (get it?).  To stay hidden, he also has to look completely different.  Makes sense, doesn’t it?  Ok, no it doesn’t.  But Justin-David thinks it will work.  And I did love his whole tortured-thing.  And his imaginary greyhound, oh-so creatively named ‘Dog’:  he was cute!  Even though he was imaginary…  And I still can’t decide whether he’s just paranoid, or whether it’s the world (and Fate) that are the crazy ones…
As for Agnes, the older girl he meets and falls in love with, I liked her.  At first.  Then she did something – to tell would be to reveal – and I just… stopped.  She suddenly seemed cruel and teasing.  But she did get Justin out of his shell, helped him change…
The brother David saved, Charlie, was a little odd.  He tried to telepathically tell Justin things and at one point spelled out a warning sentence, which is a little unbelievable for a child who can barely stand and can’t even talk. 
Our final characters are Peter and Dorothea.  These two I liked a lot.  They were brother and sister, and befriended Justin.  They were also wonderful, and a little weird.  They could see Dog.  Yes, Dog, the imaginary greyhound.  Strange.  I never could figure out why they could see him…
And the strangeness continues with our second narrator, who only appears on a few pages and yet makes a huge impression.  Fate.  It was an absolutely new thing for me.  As I mentioned before, who thinks of using Fate as a narrator?  It was new and unusual, but it worked, really, really well.  Plus, Fate himself was brilliant!  Sure, he was twisted and, well, superior.  But, oddly enough, he was my favourite character.  It sounds strange, but there was something… bewitching about the god-complex-troubled Fate.  (Then again, can you have a god-complex if you’re Fate?)  And even though the question of whether he’s real or some figment of Justin’s imagination didn’t take away from the fact that he was amazing.  But, I asked myself, if Justin made him up, then why can’t Justin hear what Fate is saying…?
This wasn’t Rosoff’s best novel, that I will admit right now.  But it was still Meg Rosoff.  I’ve always loved her writing style: simple and powerful and beautiful, and I could clearly see it in Just In Case.  And the storyline was unlike anything I’d ever seen.  As I mentioned earlier, using Fate?  Pure genius!  My biggest fault was that there was no character development.  I kept hoping that Justin would grow into a bigger and stronger character, but… nothing.  Also, I was left with so, so many questions!  It’s annoying me a little – I want to know why Justin?  Why could Peter and Dorothea see Dog?  Who – well, what – is Fate?  Is he just made up?  Or is he something… more?  Questions, so many questions…
But, overall, I liked Just In Case.  It was new, quirky and had me in its grip.  I just loved how subtly Rosoff played the mental health side of things – made even more powerful by the fact that the sufferer was only a teenager.  She’s a master of difficult issues, and Meg Rosoff really pulled the paranoia issue off perfectly.  I can’t wait for my next book by her: I think it’s one about a teenage couple having a baby… only the baby is a moose…

Star Rating:
3¾ Out of 5

Read this book if you liked:
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff 
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Broken Soup by Jenny Valentine

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