Fair Coin

Fair Coin

4.0 12
by E. C. Myers

View All Available Formats & Editions

Epraim is horrified when he comes home from school one day to find his mother unconscious at the kitchen table, clutching a bottle of pills. Even more disturbing than her suicide attempt is the reason for it: the dead boy she identified at the hospital that afternoon—a boy who looks exactly like him. While examining his dead double's belongings, Ephraim

…  See more details below


Epraim is horrified when he comes home from school one day to find his mother unconscious at the kitchen table, clutching a bottle of pills. Even more disturbing than her suicide attempt is the reason for it: the dead boy she identified at the hospital that afternoon—a boy who looks exactly like him. 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. (For ages 12 & up)

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Myers' debut begins with an intriguing premise, but ultimately falls short. Teenager Ephraim Scott's mother is distraught when she is called to identify her son's dead body, the shock of which impels her to commit suicide. However, Ephraim returns home and wakes her up before she succumbs to the combination of pills and liquor. Later, going through the belongings of his deceased doppelganger, Ephraim discovers a mysterious coin. With a flip, this magic coin grants Ephraim's wishes (e.g., that his mother would reform her ways; that the girl of his dreams would notice him), but with a price—each wish transports Ephraim into a parallel universe (which explains the dead lookalike). When an enemy from another universe shows up looking to take advantage of the coin, Ephraim must harness the coin's power to stop him and get back to his "home reality." Myers' concept is gripping and thought-provoking, but he stumbles between too many characters and twists, and the layering of multiple universes minimizes the emotional impact of characters' decisions, conflicts, and deaths. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
Winner of the 2012 Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction/Fantasy Book!

"Warning: This Book is Pure Awesome Crack. Tired of cookie-cutter young-adult novels? . . . [Fair Coin] achieves the feat of seeming like a dark fairy tale and a clever science fiction epic rolled into one. It's a fast-moving book full of twists and cool character moments and is definitely ideal for adults who miss the days of engaging, idea-driven science fiction."

"Funny, flirtatious, and unexpectedly poignant, Fair Coin takes the phrase 'be careful what you wish for' and runs with it. A stand-out debut from an author to watch."
-LAUREN MCLAUGHLIN, author of Scored

"[A] well-written, fast-paced, EPIC adventure. There are plot twists you will never see coming and enough science fiction elements to satisfy even the hungriest nerd brain! In my opinion, it accurately portrays . . . what teenagers would do if they had the entire universe at their disposal."

"I thoroughly loved this book. Rather than finding just another same-old, same-old book, this one smashed through the mold. . . . I highly recommend [Fair Coin] to all fans of YA, especially those who enjoy male MCs, science fiction, and fantasy."

"This one reminded me a lot of Scott Westerfeld's The Uglies. There's so much to love here: madcap adventure, chewy theoretical physics, realistic angst, serious stakes leavened by hilarious snark. The kind of book smart kids will love."
-N. K. JEMISIN, author of the Inheritance Trilogy

"A refreshingly unique read. . . . I loved the characters, I loved the concept, and most of all, I loved how immersed I was in the story."

"Myers has written a novel that makes the reader think. . . . It is humorous, emotional, and complex in a refreshing way, and I think it's a book that anyone who enjoys science fiction could really love."

"Cerebral science fiction with enough romance and two-fisted action to keep it from getting too bogged down in its own ideas. A great read for just about anyone."

School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Ephraim is dead. At least that is what his alcoholic mother thought when she downed a bottle of pills in a suicide attempt after identifying his corpse. Ephraim comes home in time to save her and at the hospital discovers that the victim of a bus accident is his doppelganger. He is like Ephraim in every way, even down to the library card in his pocket. Among the dead boy's effects is a commemorative quarter that shows Puerto Rico as a state. Later, a note in his best friend's handwriting instructs him to make a wish and flip the coin. He wishes his mother out of the hospital. Then he wishes her into a better job. He shares the coin with his best friend, who insists he knows nothing about the note. Soon they are wishing themselves on dates with their secret crushes. But Ephraim notices that the wishes sometimes come with unforeseen complications, making him hesitant to keep using the coin, much to the chagrin of his buddy. Eventually Ephraim discovers that the coin is not magic but is technological in nature and soon he is skipping across parallel universes, running for his life, and trying to undo the damage his "wishes" have caused. Myers's debut novel is an entertaining, exciting science-fiction adventure. Occasional inconsistencies and discussions of theoretical physics are not enough to spoil the story for teens, who will identify with the protagonist's desires and angst.—Anthony C. Doyle, Livingston High School, CA
Kirkus Reviews
A spin through parallel universes schools a teenager in the hazards of making wishes. Ephraim comes home one day to find his troubled mother in the midst of a suicide attempt--having just, she claims, viewed his body in the morgue. More puzzling still, among the corpse's effects is a strange-looking quarter. When prompted by a mysterious note in his school locker, he tries making a wish on it, and, to his amazement, his mother is suddenly out of the hospital with no memory of the day before. Complications ensue as further wishes hook him up with classmate Jena but also ring in other, unexpected and increasingly disturbing changes. Horrified to learn at last that the coin is actually a mentally controlled part of a device for traveling among alternate realities, that each "quantum shift" he makes forcibly switches him with an analog of himself and that the rest of the device is in the hands of a casually violent version of (in his universe) his best friend Nathan, Ephraim sets out to make amends. Ephraim's strategy of returning all of his displaced analogs to their original planes simply by retracing his travels doesn't hold water (you can't go home again when every change from quantum events up spawns a new reality), but by the end he's earned the self-confidence to make fresh starts with both mother and girlfriend. The frequent shifts make it hard to keep track of who's where in this dizzying debut, but Ephraim's ability to see past the temptations of power despite an active teen libido provides him with a sturdy moral base. (Science fiction. 13-16)

Read More

Product Details

Prometheus Books
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

Read an Excerpt



Prometheus Books

Copyright © 2012 Eugene Myers
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-61614-609-2

Chapter One

Ephraim found his mother slumped over the kitchen table, her right hand curled around a half-empty bottle of vodka. A cigarette smoldered in the ashtray beside her; it had burned into a gray cylinder up to its lipstick-smeared filter. He ground the butt in the tray forcefully and waved wisps of smoke away from his face.

"I suppose this is my fault," he said to her still form. She'd drunk herself into a stupor, but she'd probably blame him for not rushing home from school to wake her for her late shift at the supermarket. He picked up the vodka bottle. Even if he woke her now, she wouldn't be in any condition for work. Besides, she was already an hour late.

"Mr. Slovsky's gonna dock your pay again," he muttered. Ephraim slipped the vodka out of her hand and took it to the sink. He filled a quarter of the bottle with tap water and swirled it around, diluting the alcohol. It stretched out the liquor supply; they already couldn't afford her two-bottle-a-week habit. Of course, it would be better for both of them if she didn't drink their money away at all. He screwed the cap on tight and thumped it onto the table where he'd found it. She didn't even stir.

"Mom?" Normally she'd be coming to by now, slurring incoherent curses while reaching for another drink. But there was no motion at all. Everything seemed to still around him, the sound of the humming refrigerator and the ceiling fan dropping away. Something was very wrong.

He touched her on the shoulder and leaned over her face to check her breathing.


There was something clutched in his mother's left hand. An amber pill bottle. A few purple capsules littered the scratched formica around it. Ephraim's chest tightened as he realized that he'd never seen her take any kind of prescription medication.


Ephraim shook her shoulders gently, then more roughly when she didn't respond. More of the candy-colored pills flew from the bottle and skittered across the table to the floor. The soft capsules popped under his sneakers as he stepped around her and took the bottle from her limp hand. The long chemical name on the pharmacy label meant nothing to him.

Ephraim eased his mother to a sitting position. Her head lolled forward. "Mom." He patted her cheek gently. "Wake up. Wake up!" He felt her breath against the back of his hand—that was something, at least. "Please, wake up."

"Mmmm ..." she murmured. Her head twitched.


Her eyes fluttered open, and she stared at him glassily. "Ephraim, where are you?"

"Right here, Mom. Look at me."

She blinked a couple of times, trying to focus on his face. "Honey?"

"Yes, it's me."

She was really out of it.

"What happened to you?"

She shook her head and tried to push him away. He held her shoulders tighter, worried that she would hurt herself. "No!" she said. "No!"

"What's wrong?"

She scrambled out of her chair and struggled when he tried to grab her arms. The chair fell between them and he bumped his hip painfully against the side of the kitchen table. She was stronger than she looked.

"You're dead!" She jerked away, more awake now. "Ephraim's gone!"

"Calm down, Mom. I'm right here."

"Ephraim's dead." She sobbed.

"You just imagined it. Mom, look at me. Look at me! I'm fine."

She stumbled toward the stove and grabbed onto the side, then leaned over and retched. Clear liquid splashed onto the faded linoleum, along with some of the pills she had taken.

"Jeez!" he said.

She wobbled, and he rushed over to catch her if she fell.

She collapsed to her knees, head bowed. She coughed a couple of times and stared down at her own mess. Finally she looked up, and this time he knew she recognized him. She was crying; eyeliner was smeared under her eyes like bruises. "Ephraim? But ... I saw your body." A thin trail of saliva dangled from her chin.

"Do I look dead to you?" he snapped.

"A bus, it hit you, and—" She rubbed her face. "But you're here. You're alive? Are you really my Ephraim?"

"Why'd you do this, Mom?"

"You were so young." She closed her eyes. "My poor baby ..."

"Mom, stay with me. You have to stay awake," Ephraim said.

"Stay ..." she echoed.


Her lips moved, murmuring something too low for him to hear. As he leaned closer to listen, she slumped back against the oven door and stopped moving.

Ephraim snatched the phone and dialed 911. While the line rang he lowered his mother gently down on the floor, using her purse as a pillow. His hands shook and hot tears blurred his vision.

A calm voice spoke from the phone. "911, what is your emergency?"

"My mother took some pills," he said.


Excerpted from FAIR COIN by E. C. MYERS Copyright © 2012 by Eugene Myers. Excerpted by permission of Prometheus Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >