Monday, 19 November 2007

Just In Case - Meg Rosoff

"Extraordinary and original. Yhisdisturbing blackly comic, sophisticated meditation on death, madness and sexuality is powerful and haunting" Sunday Times book of the Week.

What would you do if you thought fate was out to get you?
If you're fifteen year old David Case, you might decide to change your name and the way you look. You might reinvent yourself as an athlete, try to outrun the terrible things that could happen at any second. You might leave home and find yourself caught up in a series of strange misadventures. You might even fall in love.
But is David Case really in control of his life? And if he isn't, who is?
Meg Rosoff's suprisingly funny and utterly compelling new novel is as daring as her first, the award winning How I Live Now.

One day, David Case's baby brother, Charlie looks out of their top floor window and thinks, "Why not fly?" David reaches him just in time to stop him plunging out, and is suddenly hit by panic. He begins to see all kinds of danger in the world, "Suddenly everywhere he looked he saw complete ctastrophe, bloodshed, the demise of the planet, the ruin of the human race...The weight of it wrapped itself around his ankles and dragged him under."
Believing himself to be doomed, David sets about reinventing himself, changes his name to Justin, (get it?) changes his friends, clothing and acquires a zanily dressed photographer girlfriend and an imaginary greyhound, Dog.
As this occurs, fate looks on mischeiviously, and Charlie with concern.
I really enjoyed this novel, although it is a little strange. I wondered if David /Justin was suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), going to extreme measures to prevent catastrophe. I'm not sure if this was the author's intentiom, but Justin certainly exhibits many of the signs. Clearly he is depressed and sees the world as a hostile place.
Fate is personified and given a voice, but it was never clear to me whether the author was playing a game with the reader in the same way the fate is playing games with Justin.
Justin is helped by Peter and his enigmatic and wise young sister Dorothea, who seem to accept and sympathise with Justin's angst.
Peter tells Justin, "...try rethinking your proposition. Check your logic. Are you running because you're being chased? Is something chasing you in order to do you harm? Think of a dog. What if fate is chasing you because you're running?"
Justin has to come to terms with his mortality in order to survive, and his journey of discovery is thought provoking and moving.

"Intelligent, ironic and darkly funny." Time Out

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