Rosoff, Meg. Just in case.
Rosoff's first YA novel, How I Live Now, has been highly praised since its publication. When I reviewed it, within a few sentences I was caught up in the voice of the young narrator and her survival story. Just in Case is more complicated. A first-person voice introduces most chapters--that voice is the voice of Fate. Fate is looking at the life of David, a 15-year-old boy living in a small town outside of London. The catalyst for David's relationship with Fate is when his little brother goes to an open window and nearly falls to his death. David realizes how fragile life is, how closely doom lurks. He changes his name to Justin, trying to hide from Fate. He falls in with an older girl, Agnes, who is a photographer who sees Justin's potential as a model for "doomed youth." He is in love with her even while understanding she is using him for her own career. There are other friends, confused parents, an imaginary dog, and a climactic disaster when a plane crashes and people die all around Justin, while Agnes's camera clicks away.
Like How I Live Now, the writing is superb and the plot inventive. There is a touch of British absurdity--not quite Monty Python, but a bit of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, perhaps. I think the novel will appeal to readers who enjoy that approach to telling a story, rather than to the readers who like How I Live Now. I'm thinking readers may be more attached to Agnes than to Justin. Since she is looking back at adolescence with loving concern but a certain detachment, the story will appeal more to the oldest YAs and to adults. Claire Rosser, KLIATT
S--Recommended for senior high school students.
A--Recommended for advanced students and adults. This code will help librarians and teachers working in high schools where there are honors and advanced placement students. This also will help extend KLIATT's usefulness in public libraries.
*--The asterisk highlights exceptional books.