Justin Case is convinced fate has in for him.
And he's right.
After finding his younger brother teetering on the edge of his balcony, fifteen-year-old David Case realizes the fragility of life and senses impending doom. Without looking back, he changes his name to Justin and assumes a new identity, new clothing and new friends, and dares to fall in love with the seductive Agnes Day. With his imaginary dog Boy in tow, Justin struggles to fit into his new role and above all, to survive in a world where tragedy is around every corner. He's got to be prepared, just in case.
Rosoff's (How I Live Now) intriguing, stylized novel explores the nature of fate and one teen's attempt to escape his own destiny. After witnessing his baby brother's brush with death, 15-year-old David Case becomes obsessed with his own mortality and decides to trick fate and thus prolong his life by changing his identity. He renames himself Justin Case, exchanges his wardrobe for thrift-shop clothes and befriends an imaginary greyhound, but his efforts to become someone else do not prove effective in quelling his fear that something horrific lies just around the corner. In the meantime, an eccentric young woman photographer discovers him and (much to the hero's horror) turns him into a poster child for "doomed youth." An omniscient, third-person narrative coupled with brief commentaries from all-seeing Fate give the story a surrealistic if not allegorical quality. Children seem older and wiser than their years; adults especially Justin's mother, who is shockingly blas about the alterations in her son are cast as na ve and out of touch. Geared to mature readers with a philosophical bent and an appreciation of irony, the novel shows how, by focusing on his inevitable end, Justin Case almost misses the opportunity to enjoy the gifts fate has to offer: namely, survival, love and friendship. Ages 14-up.