Fair Coin – E.C. Myers

Aboutthe book
Sixteen-year-oldEphraim Scott is horrified when he comes home from school and finds his motherunconscious at the kitchen table, clutching a bottle of pills. The reason forher suicide attempt is even more disturbing: she thought she’d identifiedEphraim’s body at the hospital that day. 

Among his dead double’s belongings, Ephraimfinds a strange coin—a coin that grants wishes when he flips it. With a flickof his thumb, he can turn his alcoholic mother into a model parent and catchthe eye of the girl he’s liked since second grade. But the coin doesn’t alwayschange things for the better. And a bad flip can destroy other people’s livesas easily as it rebuilds his own. 

The coin could give Ephraim everything he’s everwanted—if he learns to control its power before his luck runs out.

250pages (hardcover)
Publishedon: March 27, 2012
Publishedby: Pyr
Thisbook was sent to me as a review copy by the publishers.
I’mlearning that, despite prior belief, I actually do enjoy young adult books.However, the caveat to that would be that I am rather particular about them.For example, I enjoy young adult books that toy with new ideas in such a waythat the audience they target will learn while they read. Secondly, I realizedthat some young adult books are written by an adult who seems to be trying toohard to write on a young adult level. That really bothers me. I enjoy the more natural feeling young adult books (I’m not even sure if that makes sense). 
Thankfully,Fair Coin was one of those youngadult books that hit all the spots.
Fair Coin tells the story of youngEphriam, a high school student who happens across a coin and directions tellinghim to make a wish and flip the coin. Ephriam does this and the plot startsmoving. Ephriam himself is an incredibly believable high school student. He’s aball of hormones and little forethought. Most of his wishes and actions arefocused on girls, which, lets face it, is probably exactly what most highschool males would wish if given a magic coin.
That’spart of the magic of Fair Coin. Myerswrites an incredibly believable high school aged character. In fact, sobelievable that most readers will sympathize with some of the characters at onepoint or another, either because they remember acting/thinking like that orbecause they are currently at the same point in their own lives. Whatever yourage range, Myers’ characters are characters most people can completely relateto.
Onthe flip side of this is the fact that the characters never really delve belowsurface level. In fact, their emotional range remains rather shallow and theamount of time it takes for Ephriam to come to certain conclusions is nothingshort of frustrating. While the characters are fun, and do fit into the storyMyers tells, the lack of depth to them could potentially cause some readers tonot fully enjoy or associate with the story or the characters in it.
Furthermore,most of the characters are rather stereotypical and black and white. The villainis the typical super-evil-and-uber-powerful guy. Ephriam is the typical geekfrom the typical dysfunctional family. The woman he is interested in is thetypical hot librarian type. While this isn’t necessarily bad, the author didn’treally color outside the lines when working on the characters, and I did findtheir lack of unique was a slightdisappointment.
Perhapsit’s the absence of emotional depth that causes me to feel as though some ofthe scenes, and reactions to events weren’t believable. For example, if someoneclose to Ephriam dies, he pretty much gets over it within a page and whilethese feelings might be talked about after he’s “over it,” it’s mostly just inpassing and not really believable on the level it needed to be. Furthermore,the stereotypical character roles can serve to keep the reader unsurprised asto thoughts, actions and decisions made.
Ihave spent the past few paragraphs discussing negative points of the book, butlet me flip the coin (har har, nice play on words) and discuss some of thepositive points of the book.
Theplot of Fair Coin is incredibly quickmoving and action packed, often to the point where it seems as though thingsare constantly changing. Though this can cause the reader some confusion, I’msure that’s some of what Myers is going after so the reader can feel a bit ofwhat Ephriam feels. Furthermore, the experimental physics ideas that Myers toyswith are really well done. The author does a great job at taking complex ideasand boiling them down enough so most people will be able to understand them.Furthermore, the use of these ideas does something which I think is incredibleimportant for young adult books – they will make young adult readers wonder aboutendless possibilities and learn as they read.
Inthe end, Fair Coin is a nice balanceof positive and negative aspects. While the plot is fast moving and actionpacked, the characterization lacked. Despite this, Fair Coin is a fast, fascinating read and while it might have someflaws, most readers will probably be able to overlook them in favor of theinteresting, complex plot.

2 Responses

  • Paul Weimer

    I’m learning that, despite prior belief, I actually do enjoy young adult books. However, the caveat to that would be that I am rather particular about them. For example, I enjoy young adult books that toy with new ideas in such a way that the audience they target will learn while they read.

    I think that is especially true of many of this "new crop" of YA books that have come out as of late.

  • Kristin

    Nice, honest review:) I'm about to crack this one open, and I've heard varying degrees of positives about it. I'm rather hard on young adult books, but that's only because in my, um, old age, it's very hard for me to relate to very young characters. I'm always on the lookout for crossover appeal, and "interesting, complex plot" sounds very promising!

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