Publication: March 2012 from Pyr
Rating: 4 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I really liked it
The coin changed Ephraim’s life. But how can he change it back?
Sixteen-year-old Ephraim Scott is horrified when he comes home from school and finds his mother unconscious at the kitchen table, clutching a bottle of pills. The reason for her suicide attempt is even more disturbing: she thought she’d identified Ephraim’s body at the hospital that day.
Among his dead double’s belongings, Ephraim finds a strange coin – a coin that grants wishes when he flips it. With a flick of his thumb, he can turn his alcoholic mother into a model parent and catch the eye of the girl he’s liked since second grade. But the coin doesn’t always change things for the better. And a bad flip can destroy other people’s lives as easily as it rebuilds his own.
The coin could give Ephraim everything he’s ever wanted – if he learns to control its power before his luck runs out.
Fair Coin by E. C. Myers is a novel with a beautifully unique concept and execution of the idea. An at-first seemingly simple premise (magic coin!) becomes increasingly complex and so much more than it appears.
The world building in Fair Coin is interesting in that E. C. Myers takes the world we know, and with each wish gets to change it slightly. At first the differences are small, hardly noticeable. But when Ephraim’s wishes get larger and he starts bringing friends along, the world as he knows it begins to change in larger, more obvious ways until he experiences everything from a dystopian like world, to an untouched paradise. The descriptions of the settings, people and emotions are very vivid and draw you into the story completely. Ephraim is an engaging and intriguing main character. He’s got the best of intentions, but starts off fairly selfish and uses the coin for his own gain. I give him props for trying to set things right once he figures out what’s really going on, even if it will mean he’s screwed over. Ephraim’s a nice guy, who’s all teenager. Nathan, on the hand, is rotten. Well, most of the time. It’s hard to explain when I don’t want to give away any spoilers. Just know that it’s fine to dislike Nathan – he’s written that way.
The explanation for the coin is easy to follow, but not overly simple. The results of the wishes and how Ephraim tries to fix things is very much like time travel is for me – it made my brain hurt a little bit trying to keep it all straight. But unlike time travel, I was able to keep everything in a coherent order and figure out what was going on. Fair Coin by E. C. Myers is an engaging, and often thought-provoking novel. I don’t know if I would have been half as competent as Ephraim at getting things back to normal, and I don’t know that I wouldn’t have gone wish crazy as well. I’m excited for the sequel to see where E. C. Myers takes his characters and world. Oh, and I thought I’d leave you with this amazing quote from page 87, said by Ephraim’s mother:
“When you give someone a book, it’s like saying: ‘I’m trusting you with something that means a lot to me.’ It doesn’t matter whether you like it or not, though it helps if you do. What matters is that you understand why she likes it. Why she gave it to you.”
Hardcover provided by Prometheus Books in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!
I have one copy of Fair Coin to give away to one lucky reader from Canada or the US. Just fill out the form to enter. Ends August 17, 2012 at 11:59pm EST. 13 years or older to enter. Duplicates will be disqualified.