April 2, 2020

Book Review: Fair Coin

Fair Coin by author E.C. Myers is a whirlwind of a tale. The story begins with teenaged Ephraim coming home from school one day to find his mother unconscious at the kitchen table. She’d attempted suicide. As if that weren’t disturbing enough, Ephraim discovers the reason. His mother has identified his — Ephraim’s — body at the hospital.  To her, he was dead.  She’d had his belongings to prove it.

As Ephraim was puzzling through his dopelganger’s things, he came across a coin with unusual properties. Each time he makes a wish and flips the coin, things are changed in unexpected ways. His mother, his love interest, and his best friend Nathan are the most — and least — constant in these changes.

Here’s the thing. The minute the changes start, and because the reader thinks they’re wishes, the impression is that this is more of a fantasy genre novel than a sci fi.  I don’ t know about anyone else, but that sets my perception of a novel. Then, several chapters in, the reader and Ephraim start gathering  information.  We learn through various and surprising human sources that we’re dealing NOT with wishes, but with science.

At that point, a whole new perception, vocabulary, and story begin.  Our main characters’ movements become deliberate and no longer random. Ephraim grows as a character in pretty profound ways, acquires ‘new’ friends, and comes to informed and intelligent conclusions.  A point of view very different from the Ephraim on page one, who wants to wish away the bad things in his life.

The element of the unknown, the suspense of who will do what with or to whom, and the eventual resolution of the story are engaging, interesting, and really fun to read.   It’s something of a cautionary tale with interesting cultural and scientific references lending substance.  Read and enjoy.

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