The central theme of Just in Case is the power of fate and its effect on human life. By narrating portions of the novel in fate’s voice, Rosoff makes it clear that fate does exist, and random, unpredictable events dohave an unavoidable impact on every person’s life. The main question of the novel, therefore, becomes how individuals choose to deal with fate and live their lives in reaction to—or in spite of—the knowledge of a future they cannot predict or control.

Justin Case, the novel’s central character, is obsessed with fate and convinced fate is out to get him. He is constantly trying to outwit fate, to foresee and avoid any tragedy that could occur, and in so doing, he fails to live his own life. Justin forces himself to hide his true identity, changing his clothes and even his name; he is afraid to take even the smallest chance, such as going to a party with a girl, for fear that something bad will happen. When bad things do happen, such as the plane crash at the airport, Justin feels responsible—as if fate was targeting him only, and any other victims were collateral damage—and allows his guilt to consume him. The combination of guilt and anxiety so overwhelm Justin that at times he withdraws from the world completely, unable to attend school, interact with people or even leave the house.

In contrast to Justin, the novel’s secondary characters offer alternative ways to view and deal with fate—methods that could help Justin out of his funk, if he can learn to listen. Justin’s friend Peter, for example, attempts to make sense of fate by looking at the concept logically and scientifically. He compares Justin’s view of fate to “bad science” that rests on “convincing” but “faulty logic.” He tells Justin that he needs to take apart all his old assumptions and “figure out where the logic has gone wrong.”

One place Justin’s logic “has gone wrong” becomes clear when he suggests to Agnes that it might not matter how you think about fate.Agnes counters that “it makes all the difference in the world.” No one can control the chance events of life, but as Agnes points out, you cancontrol how you perceive those events: as coincidences to accept, deal with, or move past, or as proof that fate is “out to get you” and that merely by existing, you are bringing danger to yourself and others. By choosing the second viewpoint, believing he...

(The entire section is 998 words.)