Friday, July 27, 2012

.....if wishes were fishes.....

Fair Coin is yet another great addition to the YA shelf of books from PYR. EC Myers novel is filled with emotional tension, moral questions and highly believable characters and situations; it is another novel that I think works on multiple audiences because adolescence is something pretty much was turbulent for everyone. Myers hits right away with the turmoil in Ephraim's life as he gets home to find his alcoholic mother having attempted suicide; his already shaky life clicks down another couple notches. The troubles he is in and the magical coin that seems to get him out resonated with me and though readers might figure there is more going on then mysterious items and notes lead the hero to think the reveals and repercussions hit on the emotional issues.

I empathized with Ephraim from the beginning; he is in a much worse situation then I was so many years ago but i can imagine taking care of an alcoholic mother and relate to his being bullied in school and being attracted to someone but feeling hopeless about it. He is a geeky guy as is is buddy Nathan and though its more in fashion now he is still not gregarious or a hit at parties. His situation goes from bad to worse with his mom in the hospital from a suicide attempt because of his apparent death. This twilight zone situation lands him with a bizarre quarter that should not exists showing Puerto Rico as a state in 1998 and according to a note fulfills wishes. His life changes as does the subtle relationships in his life as he wishes for this or that and odd sighting haunt him throughout. I related to the feeling that if only I could change "X" my life would be great and the prospect of wish fulfillment without the work sadly still appeals to me. As a reader its easy to suspect there is much more going on plot wise and, oh , there are but the emotional center of the story and his relationships play the major roles.

Of the aspects of the main characters that makes them real are their foibles. E.C. 's heroes are the geeks in the school, they are the ones bullies and belittled or used by the popular kids. This is something that is sadly universal and I was one of those people who had been bullied and my life has been affected by it ever since. I enjoyed Fair Coin because Ephraim has courage I never had and well wish I did have. Wishes are a big part of the novel and I think a big part of peoples lives. Ephraim and his cohort of buddies have to live with the consequences of wish fulfilment and they do a much better job then you'd expect.
No matter how Ephraim might think his social circle is small just him and his buddy and fellow geek Nathan as a observer in his life I saw that his circle was bigger then he knew. Before all the wishes and the twists and turns that those cause good and bad he has a connection to the girl of his wishes Jena and her friends Mary and Shelly. There are numerous geek culture winks like that appearing through the novel; EC must have grown up like I did on 50's 60's sci fi reruns on TV and his world though much younger then I am right now really feels of home. I wish I had encountered this story as a teen; I may have missed it being a depressive but its pretty clear Ephraim has more friends then he knows before the first wish. As the world changes around him he gets good with bad and more bad and the creepy. He reveals things to Nathan and well its a interesting ride to say the least.

To be honest though I know blowing the story from there on is so tempting, blowing what is happening if you got clued into it by the story or not; its all to cool to read it for yourself I think. The beauty of the story from the realization of the truth on is the moral implications of what happened and the implications for the future. The friends he has once the third act starts are in much more danger then the bullies and concerns of a teenager. The adventure from there on in is more a caper story and its a real great twist on things; still emotionally charged but grown out of the teen angst to something more adult. E.C. Myers does not opt out of the implications of his story and take the easy way out.

In the end of the story Ephraim though changed in his desire for instant gratification is changed by his experience. The knowledge he gained through his trial and his decisions have made a more fully realized person and again I would love to have read this at much less then more then twice the protagonists age. His supporting cast of geeks, freaks and above all friends are all as vibrant as he. The many changed Jena's, Mary's Shelly's and Nathan's are all as unique was you'd want from a novel that shows multiple views of the same people. I do not want to say more. I got what might be the reveal early on and it ruined nothing. I loved this book and felt for the characters. One of the nicest part of the setting and familiar to me was the mix of people in the core group there was not a self conscious mix of races or mixed race characters but the multi national mix of players was so much like my groups of friends; I wish I appreciated them more then I did.

Really saying more would be giving things away. The end delivers on all the promises E.C. made in the opening and I can not wait for more from the author. Ultimately the characters make the hard choices taking the paths they can live with, again it's moral and emotionally loaded in ways some spec fiction does not get near. Strong characters and strong storytelling make this a must read novel no matter your age; Myers hits where we live and sometimes not where we still live at times. I wish I had another chance yonder it right so often but one chance is all we get really.

EC Myers bio and website can be found here

Lest I forget I received my copy from Pyr for review and am very happy they sent one.....

Fair Coin
by E C Myers

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