is a case in just what I dislike most about YA publishing: a stereotypical angsty teen; a clever bag of tricks like the Voice of Fate, an imaginary (or maybe quantum) dog, and a baby brother who thinks like a sweet, slightly ibberbuttle but wise old man (never met one myself, however) or perhaps Innocence Personified, none of which can substitute for real depth; the requisite brushes with Mortality (and Love); riffs on all the metaphysics du jour: chaos theory, causality, free will, the nature of reality, time. Have I missed one? If so, Rosoff certainly has not. Here is a sample of Justin’s insights in Meg Rosoff’s Just in Case, now winner of the prestigious Carnegie medal:

Of course, Justin thought, I’m part of his fate just as he’s part of mine. I hadn’t considered it from his point of view. Or from the point of view of the universe, either. It’s just a playing field crammed full of cause and effect, billions of dominoes, each knocking over billions more, setting off trillions of actions every second. A butterfly flaps its wings in Africa and my brother in Luton thinks he can fly.

Don’t get me wrong; there’s some wonderful YA work out there. But why do we persist far too often in underestimating the intellectual capabilities of teens? And if I read one more time about that infamous butterfly or ‘the thinning boundaries between reality’, I’m going eat my own pair of dice – unsalted.


4 thoughts on “Just in Case

  1. Lee 17 years ago

    Yes, I agree about the use of third person in JUST IN CASE, and in fact the POV shifts sometimes seemed unnecessary and questionable. Here speaks someone who is struggling to master exactly that technique, so I’m paying it particular attention at the moment.

  2. Ann 17 years ago

    Well, we just have to agree to disagree. We can’t all love the same thing even when we have some things in common.
    About first person narrative, I’ve found that seems to work better for Meg than what happens in Justin. Her third book is back to first person, and it does work better. I’ll be interested to see what you write about it.

  3. Lee 17 years ago

    Ann, I haven’t actually said outright what I think is the worst about JUST IN CASE, i.e. that it’s simply boring and tedious.

    There is some very fine writing in HOW I LIVE NOW – the rose imagery at the end in particular, the scene with the foxes – and I agree that the voice is unique, but none of it manages to compensate for what I find to be a maudlin and ultimately unconvincing story. I’m going to do a post in a day or two about first-person retrospective POV, and I’ll include some remarks about this novel.

    Meg is enormously talented, and I’m looking forward to where she goes from here.

  4. Ann 17 years ago

    Lee, you are allowed to think and even say what you like. I can almost agree with you about subject matter in Just In Case, but not about the way Meg writes.

    I have a favourite singer (just to digress a little) and I happen to believe that he can sing anything, because his voice is so special, and I will like it.

    I think I feel the same way about Meg’s writing, on the basis of only three books. Whatever she decides to write about will be fine. At least I hope it will.

    Did you like How I lIve Now? You may find the next one, What I Was, will agree with you more. I hope.