It is a pleasure to see Pyr commit to publishing science fiction for young adults with appeal to boys and with actual science in it.
E.C. Myers' debut effort "Fair Coin" follows 16-year old Ephraim who, after finding his troubled alcoholic mother on his kitchen floor unconscious following a suicide attempt, is given a very strange piece of information. Apparently, his mother took pills because she identified HIS DEAD BODY just a few hours prior. Trying to untangle this odd mystery, Ephraim takes possession of his dead double's belongings and finds among them a coin that appears to make all his wishes come true. These wishes, however, carry heavy consequences.
Of course, "Fair Coin" is a work of science fiction, so the coin's abilities are not explained away by some magic, there is a science behind it. To reveal it in this review, however, would be a major and unfair spoiler.
I applaud Myers for coming up with an exciting and science-based premise and the twisty, puzzly adventure that his reality-bending ideas consequently bring. He does not always go through with his ideas, some scientific concepts and events do not stand up to scrutiny very well and some puzzle pieces fail to connect perfectly. The characterization is also a bit shaky. Myers’ writing lacks that little something that makes you believe fictional characters are real, breathing people.
“Fair Coin” did not work fully for me, but I believe it will appeal to a fair number of science-fiction oriented male youths, who are a little more forgiving of laps in scientific logic and flaws in writing and who will appreciate the fast pace of this story instead.
While examining his dead double’s belongings, Ephraim discovers a strange coin that makes his wishes come true each time he flips it. Before long, he’s wished his alcoholic mother into a model parent, and the girl he’s liked since second grade suddenly notices him.
But Ephraim soon realizes that the coin comes with consequences—several wishes go disastrously wrong, his best friend Nathan becomes obsessed with the coin, and the world begins to change in unexpected ways. As Ephraim learns the coin’s secrets and how to control its power, he must find a way to keep it from Nathan and return to the world he remembers.