Review: Just In Case by Meg Rosoff

Just in Case bjust_in_case_pby Meg Rosoff
Genre: Contemporary
Published by: Penguin
Pages: 256
Rating: ★★.5
Where to Find: 
Goodreads | Amazon

Maddie and I read this book as part of our school’s book club and whereas Maddie has had some experience with Rosoff’s writing style – she reviewed How I Live Now – I have not.

I wouldn’t say that I enjoyed the story, but I didn’t particularly dislike it either. The recommender of this book said that it would ‘make you think’ but at the end, I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to be thinning about. Fate, maybe? The premise is that David Case has a bad run in with fate, so decided to hide for it. He changes his name to Justin (Just in Case, geddit?) from then on he meets Agnes and she helps him change his look. The book is narrated in third person, with some first person chucked in there to represent fate chasing Justin down. Reminiscent of The Book Thief’s death as a narrator.

It’s quite a strange story as all that really happens is Justin’s slow decline into depression and other illnesses. The majority of the themes in the novel came down to two things: sex and religion. Sex was one of the main things Justin thought about, and it was interesting to see how his perception of love and physicality changed his life. The religion side of things comes from Boy, the dog. The invisible dog. I’m pretty sure he was supposed to be a metaphor for God, but I could be mistaken. My evidence for this is when Peter says, “Take Boy. Does he exist or doesn’t he? You see him, I see him. Is that enough to vouch for his existence?” When Boy isn’t in Justin’s life he seems worse off and unsure of himself, which could suggest that the dog is symbolic of faith in something, perhaps not a deity, but just something.

Just In Case focussed a lot on character relationships. Agnes and Justin’s relationship was dangerous because it was one sided. Justin and Peter’s friendship was mutual and co-dependent. Justin’s relationship with his brother was endearing and relied on a mutual understanding, which is hard to achieve when you’re brother is only one. The sections with Charlie, the brother, were my favourite parts, because I liked ‘looking’ into a child’s mind. Rosoff’s presentation of a child’s cognitive ability versus their ability to produce language was something I appreciated, probably because I’m currently studying Child Language Acquisition in my English Language lessons.

I was disappointed with the ending, because I thought it would surmount to more. We left Justin in a rather precarious position and, apart from the afterword from death, everyone’s endings are pretty ambiguous. After the book group’s discussion of Just In Case I may well add to this review, but for now I’ll give it 2.5 stars, we’ll see how my opinion changes with further discussion.

Review: How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

how i live nowHow I Love Now by Meg Rosoff
Genre: Apocalyptic, Romance
Published by: Penguin
Pages: 194
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★★★
Where to Find: Goodreads | Amazon

I wanted to read this book for ages. It wasn’t until after I watched the movie, starring Saoirse Ronan, that I really wanted to read it. I’m not going to talk about the differences between the movie and the film, as I don’t want to spoil anyone but if you’re interested in a ‘based on’ movie, instead of a very faithful adaptation, then definitely watch the movie!

So, the premise of this book is that a girl called Daisy is shipped off to the UK to live with her rag-tag cousins because of family conflicts. (More accurately step family conflicts.) The cousins, Osbert, Edmond, Isaac and Piper (Rosoff had to choose the most unusual names for the family!) have been living without adult supervision for a while because their mother is an important figure in the war circuit. It just so happens that Daisy’s UK excursion happens the same time World War 3 does. Go figure.

I really enjoyed the first…third of the book where we got to know the relationships between the characters, and what role they all played in keeping the family alive and together. A romantic relationship forms between Daisy and Edmond (which, if read into, is weird, but Game of Thrones is weirder) and Piper is a little cutie. The cousins easily accept Daisy into their clan and they have a jolly old time together in pre-war country Britain, running around in field and swimming in lakes.

But happiness doesn’t last forever. Obviously, something bad was going to happen. Five kids couldn’t live without adults without someone noticing. So, the five get split up, girls and boys separated and evacuated across the country. Daisy and Piper struggle to acclimatise to their new environment, however, I think they both deal with it pretty well. Not a lot of terrible things happen to them, except witnessing some guy getting his face blown off.How-I-Live-Now-DVD Oh, now it seems the war is serious.

One thing I will say for the film is that it is all much more dramatic. The book could potentially be described as slow paced (and it did take me a while to read, despite in being just over 200 pages) but there is always something going on. I think the book improved once Piper and Daisy were on the move, trying to return to their country paradise. Our survival seemed realistic (although I haven’t had to live in the woods for days), as did their chances of returning home.

I like Part Two of the novel, which offered some closure and a conclusion to the story, ending with ‘that’s how I live now’, so you really understood where the title came from! All the characters had personality and everything felt somewhat resolved with as little heartbreak as possible. For a debut novel, it was fantastic. I would definitely read this again, which is the highest of praises. Overall, I’d give this book 4 stars, the fifth star removed as I was expected more, but that’s what comes with watching the movie first!