Saturday, March 23, 2013

Book Club: Fair Coin

The book club is not dead, long live the book club! After a loooong hiatus, John, Hillary and I decided on a new book to review together: Fair Coin by E.C. Myers. 
We originally decided on it after reading this article that promised that the book would be "pure awesome crack" - which seemed to be a pretty good description of a book to go after. 
I have to say that I vacillated between liking it a lot and being rather disappointed by it throughout the reading experience; disappointed not because it was bad, but because it could have been so much more. 
It started out in a clever guise of a young adult magic novel where a troubled teen finds a coin that grants wishes when flipped and starts making changes to his life that (SHOCKINGLY) take unexpected and undesired turns, in a classical "be careful what you wish for" morality-infused story line. This is where I got most annoyed with the protagonist Ephraim: it just seemed so shallow and similar to what I read when I was twelve that I was a little upset with the io9 author which suggested it could be seen as Sci-Fi adult literature as well. 
Hillary does a wonderful job in laying out a female perspective on why Ephraim is unrelatable as a character which I also agree with fully (hint: it has to do with his treatment of women, particularly the girl he likes...) This interpretation also head-on collides with the io9 author's perspective that "a lot of books, dealing with the premise of a young guy who gets an insanely powerful artifact, would try to spin out the plot by having the main character be kind of a selfish jerk, who gets corrupted by all that power and makes things worse and worse until he finally repents. ... Myers, very wisely, avoids that pitfall and makes Ephraim both smarter and more likable than that storyline would allow." I disagree; Ephraim seems aware that his wishes are wrong for the most part, and tries to correct them relatively early in the game, but the fact that he is a thoughtful outsider and not the football-playing jerk makes it even harder to sympathize in a way. This first part, I kept half-identifying but then being thoroughly taken aback by his decisions, always thinking "you know better than that!" 
HOWEVER (spoilers after the jump; suffice it to say that there is a lot more to the story than that and if you like your elements of surprise you will only find out about it when you read it ;)...