by E.C. Myers
Cover Artist: Sam Weber
Review by Mel Jacob
Pyr Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781616146092
Date: 27 March 2012 List Price $16.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Another young adult book exploring alternate universes/multiverse takes a teen on an unexpected journey when he finds an odd coin and believes it grants wishes. However, the wishes have odd, unanticipated side effects. Then, he finds himself making more wishes to fix those causing even more problems.
It all begins when Ephraim Scott returns home and finds his mother in an apparent drunken stupor, but then discovers she has also taken pills. He calls 911 and she is taken to the hospital for treatment. He learns that she had been asked to identify a body believed to be him and was given the dead boy's belongings including a strange coin. Intrigued, he takes the coin and discovers it's power to make wishes come true.
Concerned over his mother and her future, he uses the coin to wish her a different one and his troubles begin. Each time he uses the coin, he ends in a somewhat different place. At first, he doesn't understand what is happening.
He has a crush on Jena Kim, but she doesn't appear interested in him. Eventually, he wishes she liked him. A brilliant student, Jena, once convinced of the coin's properties, helps him understand what might be happening. Unhappy with the untended consequences his wishes cause, he wants no part of it and tries to throw the coin away.
His best friend Nathan, but from another world, tracks him down and appears to know about the coin and the multiverse. However, he can't use the coin; only Ephraim can. Only those in direct contact with him when he catches the coin can travel with him. Nate likes traveling to alternate worlds and insists Ephraim take him. He steals from such worlds with ease and takes money, games, and technology back to his own world. Violence escalates and threatens those Ephraim loves including his mother.
Meyers describes Ephraim's friends and relationships and how they change in the different realities. He also make clear Ephraim's moral dilemma. Despite the circumstances, Ephraim remains unwilling to hurt others and abhors violence.
A writer of short fiction, Meyers does a reasonable trying to explain the science and mathematics of the multiverse. Fair Coin is his first novel to be followed in the fall by Quantum Coin. Other YA writers have explored similar phenomena, most recently and more successfully, Planesrunner by Ian McDonald.