Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Fair Coin, by E. C Myers- Review

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

Fair Coin was an interesting read.  It was largely about relationships as opposed to the sci-fi element of the dimension jumping, but it was also about how small changes can make a large impact on your life.  To be honest I'm generally not a fan of sci-fi because it has a tendency to get a little complicated, and long winded technical or theoretical descriptions of why something is happening bore me.  I know, I sound flaky, but alas, I never feel likes it adds to the story and if the description is really involved I start to skim.  Also, I loath philosophy, loath it, I'm much to practical to seriously consider if a chair doesn't exist because I'm not in the same room as it, and all sci-fi gets a little philosophical at some point. Fair Coin suffered only very minimally from technical blathering and philosophising, and Ephraim himself often talks about how it's over his head, which I appreciated.

What struck me as particularly interesting about Fair Coin was how Myers uses circumstance to dictate if his characters are good vs evil more than personality or inherent goodness or badness (evilness? you know what I mean).  For instance, just because Ephraim is Ephraim in each world does not mean that all the Ephraim's are good.  Some have become distinctly unpleasant, and the explanation seems to be that each Ephraim has been shaped by the circumstances in his life to be an independent and totally unique person, even though he's the same person in each dimension- really he's not.

But although that was one of the most interesting slants of the story it was also the downfall of the side characters.  Since Ephraim is flipping in and out of all these dimensions you're not getting to know all the Jenna's, and twins very well, and since each one is really their own unique person you can't just assign what you know about them (or feel about them) from one of the other dimensions.  In other words you don't really know any of the characters very well except the Ephraim you follow (lets call him Ephraim 1st) and  Nathan who you follow (not the first one you meet! Confusing sounding I know).  So although the unique person thing was an interesting story arc to follow and/or discover it really does kill off most of his supporting players in the long run.

Although I couldn't feel committed to the supporting cast, and thus not as emotionally committed to the story as I might otherwise have been I did enjoy the actual story arc of the dimension jumping, and Ephraim's (1st) decision making on how to right the the other Ephraim's wrongs.  As usual it was also refreshing to have a male protagonist for a change.

An intriguing read which will likely have you debating good and evil with anyone else whose read it.  If I was in a book club I'd want to be discussing it!

Fair Coin, by E.C. Myers
Published by PYR, March 27th, 2012
My copy provided by the publisher
Buy Fair Coin on Amazon

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