Title: Fair Coin
Author: E.C Myers
Series: Coin #1
Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Publication Date: March 6th, 2012
From Goodreads: 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.
Why did I read this book? The premise sounded really awesome and it was blurbed by two authors I love: Sarah Beth Durst and N.K. Jemisin.
Let’s start by saying how much I enjoyed reading a smart young adult novel that wasn’t a dystopia and didn’t have the usual love triangle. The story follows Ephraim Scott, whose life changes when he finds a coin with Washington’s head facing the wrong way commemorating the state of Puerto Rico. He discovers that when he makes a wish a flips the coin, it comes true. Or close to true.
For the first half of the novel, Ephraim uses this newfound power to take care of all the things gone wrong in his life. His mom’s a drunk and he likes a girl named Jena. Of course, this magic coin ends up being used on girls. Things start to go wrong when other things in Ephraim’s world changes along with his wish. People become different, events rearrange themselves.
I felt like there was a lot of this “discovery” phase for Ephraim – nothing particular happening for quite a while except making wishes and seeing how they turn out. Not until he shares this power with his best friend Nathan does things really start to go downhill. Actually, the whole story changes in that it becomes a science fiction thriller with a very human bad guy with a gun.
There are a lot of things to like about Fair Coin. All the characters: Ephraim, Nathan, Jena feel like real teenagers. Their minds are preoccupied on their crushes and other shallow things – I wanted Ephraim to do something selfless with the coin but he never quite gets there. On top of that, I felt like Ephraim didn’t have any real feelings for Jena other than her being cute and smart, and still he bases almost all his choices on her.
Towards the end we get the big reveal – I thought it would be the end of the story, but it actually opens up a whole new plot with scary villain and some intriguing science. I felt the story had two sides and it didn’t always flow between each other. This also caused a lot of the end to be rushed since we had to resolve the conflict with the big bad and also tie up the loose ends with the coin.
Overall, I did enjoy Fair Coin and appreciated it for what it was: a different kind of young adult novel with a great science fiction story. There are some bumps along the way, the plotting, the pacing and some of the character’s lackluster choices when given power that is practically omnipotent. The end does wrap things up but I hear there’s a sequel coming out sometime next year. I’d be curious to see where Myers takes it. For one, I know I’d be interested in seeing more about the origins of the coin and the effect it has on the world.
Next Review: Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire
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