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A Reader of Fictions: Review + Giveaway: Fair Coin

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Monday, September 3, 2012

Review + Giveaway: Fair Coin

Fair Coin
Coin, Book 1

Author: E.C. Myers
Pages: 288
Publisher: Pyr
Source: Gifted ARC

Description 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.

First Sentence: "Ephraim found his mother slumped over the kitchen table, her right hand curled around a half-empty bottle of vodka."

Who wouldn't want a magic coin that would grant wishes? I mean, even though pop culture (Fair Coin included) tells me that such things are not to be trusted, I would still be ALL over that. Ephraim uses this mysterious coin he finds liberally and largely unquestioningly, like a kid devouring the entire Halloween candy haul in one sitting, unconcerned with the inevitable consequences. While there is nothing new about the magic wish plot line, there's something very compelling about it, thus why it lingers in our collective imaginations. Even knowing the risks, how many humans would be able to resist the temptation to change everything with a thought?

The first half of Fair Coin was a bit slow-going. I liked Myers' writing, but I was hoping for more from the concept and characters. Well, let me just say that the book really takes off in the second half, which I'll talk about later on, as that bit might be somewhat spoilerific. For now, I want to talk about the characters, which may be somewhat complicated, since after every wish the same people are a bit different.

Ephraim, our hero, really is not very heroic, especially early on. Sure, I just talked about how I would totally go gaga for a magic coin and make the most of it, but Ephraim makes wishes like they're about to go out of style. Where some people might have a natural, healthy skepticism about this object and how beneficial and trustworthy it is, Ephraim just sort of assumes that it will grant his wishes and everything will be awesome. He also has very little conscience about some of the things that he wishes, totally willing to mess with others for his own gain at first.  It even takes him a surprisingly long time to start worrying even after he notices changes unrelated to his wishes occurring. He came across as selfish and naive. By the end, though, he was showing more promise and thoughtfulness, thank goodness. Besides, that attitude might actually be more realistic than the logical responses I would hope to see.

Nathan, Ephraim's best friend, is simply awful. I don't like the guy in any of his iterations, and he is one of the characters who changes the most from wish to wish. Whether he's popular or a nerd, he creeps me out, and I think Ephraim's affection for Nathan is one of my issues with him as an MC. Nathan is a character straight out of a manga: the nerdy, awkward perv who takes photos of all of the girls chests and butts slyly on his phone camera. If you don't read manga, just believe me that that character shows up quite a bit. I've never encountered anyone like that in school here, and so he just comes off as a major sleaze, especially since he wants to date both of the hot twins.Yes, there are hot twins, Mary and Shelley. I love their names, though; they make me chuckle.

The other character you need to know about is Jena, the object of Ephraim's romantic desires. She, too, I have issues with, because she really just did not seem like a real person to me. In theory, I should love Jena Kim. She's Asian, dreams of being a librarian (awesome, but good luck to her finding a job), loves to read, and is a big nerd. However, she's a bit too much the nerdy boy's fantasy; she's ALL of the things a nerd would dream of packed into one person, and it just feels like too much to be real. For example, at a morning assembly, she receives awards for 'National Honor Society, Science Scholar, Math Scholar,' and, not only that, everyone cheers for her, including wolf whistles from the football team. This girl, who wears glasses and constantly switches up the frames, who works in the library for fun, who participates voluntarily in Quiz Bowl, is one of the most popular and attractive girls in school. Maybe this happened in your school, but mine had a pretty clear divide between the nerds and the popular people.

I will say that the characterization strengthened in the second half as well, although there's still room to grow. I found myself much more interested in their problems by the end than I was at the beginning. Possibly, this is all a result of Ephraim's growth, as he learns how little changes in a person can make a big distinction, thus better understanding those around him and appreciating what makes them unique and beloved.

Alright, now with that aside, I want to talk a little bit about the second half of the book. Just a little. READ AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION, as this will include some spoilers, although these comments would not have been for me. I either heard along the way or just suspected the plot was going sort of in this direction.

Fair Coin's second half reminds me heavily of Sliders, a television show from the 90s that I thought was awesome in its nerdiness. The mechanics, of course, are quite different, but the alternate universe jumping is so cool. I love that and I love how that makes anything possible. The mechanism by which this occurs still confuses me, but Myers has set this up convincingly enough that I'm willing to roll with the flow. Plus, more might be explained in Quantum Coin.

Everything wraps up neatly at the end of Fair Coin, so I'm certainly curious to know where the story will be heading in the next installment. Though Fair Coin did not grab me immediately, I was ultimately satisfied and glad to have gotten the chance to read it. For those who might be struggling a bit at first, if you enjoy thought-provoking science fiction reads, I would urge you to press on for the shift in the second half of the book.

Rating: 3.5/5

Favorite Quote: "'Calm down, Ephraim. You seem really certain of what's possible and what's impossible, for a guy who's trying to convince me he has a magic wishing coin.'"

Rules are simple. US only, since I'm shipping, and fill out the Rafflecopter.

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Blogger Lilian said...

Awwww, I'm a bit disheartened t find out Fair Coin was slow in the beginning and there were isues with the characters. I've had Fair Coin on my radar since early this year; I wanted to read it because it had ASIAN characters, and the author was ASIAN. *o*

I really don't read enough of minorities.

"MC. Nathan is a character straight out of a manga: the nerdy, awkward perv who takes photos of all of the girls chests and butts slyly on his phone camera."
Well I heard Myer loves manga...no wonder.
I know such people exist in real life, but I've never got the logic behind it. WHY NOT JUST WATCH PORN. IT KEEPS YOU FROM BEING ARRESTED AND SLAPPED ACROSS THE FACE.

"For example, at a morning assembly, she receives awards for 'National Honor Society, Science Scholar, Math Scholar,' and, not only that, everyone cheers for her, including wolf whistles from the football team."
The question is..how does she have a life? seriously.

Lilian @ A Novel Toybox

September 3, 2012 at 12:18 PM  
Blogger Lilian said...

On an unrelated note, NOW YOUR BLOG TAGLINE IS A LIE!

September 3, 2012 at 12:19 PM  
Blogger aLilLacey said...

A magic coin eh? And a mysterious double of yourself. Sounds like the book could be very interesting and not the normal story line I've been hearing lately. Thanks for the review!

September 3, 2012 at 1:50 PM  
Blogger M.A.D. said...

Kinda disappointed to hear it was a little slow going in the first half of the book, albeit I didn't read your review past the spoiler warning (thank you for that!!!) ... :D

I have to say that the opening line, and the premise behind Fair Coin makes it sound like a highly interesting read! Very, very very curious about changes unrelated to Ephraim's wishes.

Terrific review <3

And yeah, there IS something about the magic wishing thing that grabs us, and thoroughly stirs the imagination. So, just for kicks ... I'm holding a *magic* diet Mtn. Dew cap, and am *wishing* I'll win this book as now I really want to read it! (this is all YOUR fault lol) We'll have to see what happens with ol' rafflecopter ;D

September 3, 2012 at 2:42 PM  
Blogger Adriana @ BooksOnHerMind said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

September 3, 2012 at 8:13 PM  
Blogger Adriana @ BooksOnHerMind said...

What? Why?

September 3, 2012 at 8:14 PM  
Blogger Adriana @ BooksOnHerMind said...

So many possibilities with a flip of a coin. Surprised that no one else has come up with this idea. Well that I know of... It's genius!
Jena Kim sounds like my worst nightmare -__-
Does not seem like a real person - what does that mean? She acts fake or is it because she's every nerds fantasy but has nothing to give to the book?
Oh God Nathan. *shudders* I'm thinking of FLCL and one of his friends. I kind of loathe those people. Why are you needed? You are so creepy.
Isn't it kind of the point of the book that Ephraim goes crazy with power? If he does one or two wishes than it's not really worth reading. Plus he's a guy so... that'll happen.

September 3, 2012 at 8:23 PM  
Blogger Lilian said...

Hm? Did I say something incredibly confusing? O_O

September 3, 2012 at 9:14 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Lilian, you should definitely still read it. By the end, some of those issues were clearing up. So just go in with your expectations arranged accordingly.

Also, you know people who do that? *avoids Hawaii* THEY TOTALLY SHOULD JUST WATCH PORN.

Pretty much. She can't do all of that AND go to all of the popular people's parties. But she does. So she feels fake.

I FIXED IT. Though I don't like what I put in. WHATEVER.

September 4, 2012 at 9:49 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yup. Very different from most of what's out there!

September 4, 2012 at 9:49 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

The concept is wonderful, and I definitely recommend that you read this. I just like to prepare people, and to let them know that even if, like me, the first half doesn't grab them completely, they should keep going. You might love the characters!

Hahaha, we'll see what the magic Mountain Dew does for you!

September 4, 2012 at 9:51 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

She doesn't seem real to me, because she's too perfect. She is in literally EVERY club, wins every award, is a giant nerd AND is the third most popular girl in the school. People like that didn't exist in my school.

Right? That may have been on purpose? I don't know if I was supposed to like Nathan or not.

Haha, true. I wanted to slap his wrist though. Think your wish through first, dude!

September 4, 2012 at 9:53 AM  
Blogger Wendy Darling said...

I've seen a lot of mixed reactions to this book, but I still want to read it! The magic coin thing reminds me of HALF MAGIC by Edward Eager, a series I really loved as a kid. :) Does anyone remember that?

I'm glad the characterizations got better in the second half. Nothing is more boring than a protagonist who is doesn't learn anything about himself throughout the course of the book.

Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

September 4, 2012 at 12:41 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Hmmm, I do NOT remember that, probably because I don't think I've heard of it.

That's true. If he starts out ridiculous, he has a lot of space to grow. Thankfully, he DID grow, though he still has room for improvement. Who doesn't, though? :-p

September 4, 2012 at 1:03 PM  
Blogger Lilian said...

"Also, you know people who do that?"

I..I...I...well, all the ones I've heard are from Hong Kong, so that's the place you should avoid, or wear pants in!
But then even in America we have those "sleazy teachers" putting cameras in the girl's dressing room...

I know she's Asian, but even Asian can't go that far! hmph. Does she also play a sport?

at least it's not a lie!

September 4, 2012 at 1:26 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Duly noted. Pants are crucial. Ewwwww.

Ummm, so far as I noticed, no. Thank goodness for that.

September 4, 2012 at 1:42 PM  
Blogger Brandy C said...

Thanks for the giveaway!

September 7, 2012 at 11:29 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

No probs! I'm happy to share the wealth. (Coin pun!)

September 10, 2012 at 8:33 AM  
Blogger Kat said...

Right I am going to try this one I think. I think? Wow maybe I have commitment issues.....

Good to know that if I find the first half slow it picks up :-D

September 11, 2012 at 11:31 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Haha, I pretty much always qualify my reading plans, because it takes me forever to get to things. I still haven't read Bitterblue and Kristin Cashore's one of my favorite authors AND I have a copy.

September 11, 2012 at 12:58 PM  
Blogger Lilian said...

I dropped by the state library and saw this book (they FINALLY have it...several copies in fact, even though they didn't have it for at least two months after it's release), I was about to borrow it...then I remembered this review and put it back down.

And I resigned to the fact I should be reading my pile of typography textbooks instead.

So I had to put it back along with Unwholly. I am such a sucker for being the first borrower, especially Unwholly since it had a 7 people waiting list. But considering I would have to pick up Unwind along with it...OH WHY HAVEN'T I READ UNWIND YETTTT

September 17, 2012 at 1:43 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

I'm not saying you SHOULDN'T read it. I have Quantum Coin coming, so we'll see whether it keeps getting better, at which point you would need those shiny library copies. School is a problem though.

I don't know why you haven't read Unwind. You should do that, though I doubt you will be over the moon about it.

September 17, 2012 at 11:35 AM  

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