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 afternoona 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)
About the Author
E.C. Myers was assembled from Korean and German parts in Yonkers, New York, where he was raised jointly by a mother and the public library. He is a graduate of the Clarion West Writers Workshop and a member of the prolific NYC writing group Altered Fluid. In the rare moments when he isn't writing, he blogs about Star Trek at theviewscreen.com, plays video games, watches classic films and television, sleeps as little as possible, and spends too much time on the internet. To find out more about E.C. Myers and his activities, short story publications, and novels, visit ecmyers.net, or find him on Twitter @ecmeyers.
Read an Excerpt
By E. C. MYERS
Prometheus BooksCopyright © 2012 Eugene Myers
All right reserved.
Chapter OneEphraim 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!"
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.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This was a very fun, fast read. E.C. Myers' teens feel very real -- headstrong, shy, uncertain and unevenly bold. Much like a Twilight Zone episode, Ephraim's selfish but seemingly benevolent wishes get him quickly over his head, and he spends nearly the whole story trying to deal with the consequences of his actions and trying to figure out how to do right by the people he loves: his best friend, his crush, his mom, and everyone else at his school. The romance elements were well-done, especially considering how the story unfolds. I'm very excited where Myers will go next.
Ephraim Scott, “Eph” to his friends, is a typical teenage boy living a typical (sadly, it -is- fairly common for children to deal with this situation) life. He isn’t entirely happy, but he does seem to be coping; he has friends, he’s performing at an at least average level in school, and has a job that the reader can assume he appreciates. Truthfully, though, he’s a boy who is hurting and he’s all too eager to step away from his not-so-idyllic life. When he gets the opportunity to do so, he leaps at the chance. It’s through wishes and hopes and chance that Ephraim makes his way through the twists and turns of Mr. Myers fast-paced plot, and it’s really fun to try to figure out just what is going on and why. What is not so typical about the story is the author’s portrayal of the teen mindset. Ephraim is a young man with strong morals and willpower, though these traits only become truly apparent as we get further into the story. There is character growth (though it’s gradual and not entirely deep) with all three of the “main” characters: Ephraim, Nathan, and Jena. Jena is written as a girl with a brain who knows how to use it, Nathan is a many-layered personality, and Ephraim really has to evaluate his life, his choices, his feelings – his entire self. It’s interesting to watch it all unfold. As the book ends, Ephraim comes to the realization that life is what we make of it and that it’s each person’s responsibility to either stay the course or make changes. It’s a really good lesson, albeit a subtle one. I loved that despite having a male author, a male main character, and just an in general kind of “guy” feel to it, the female characters have strong, independent voices. They may be mainly supporting characters, but they are important and they are not pushed into the shadows willy-nilly. There are a few bits of the book that make me scratch my head – portions I feel like were glossed over – such as the emotional reactions, or lack thereof, that two particular characters have to losing a friend. It’s a minor flaw, and not one I think takes anything away from the overall story. Also, I feel like there a few unanswered questions dangling there in the open, just waiting…and I’m hoping the sequel answers them for us. E.C. Myers has written a novel that makes the reader think, which is something that is, sadly, often lacking in the Young Adult genre. He has not over simplified the SciFi aspects of the novel, showing that he has faith in the intelligence and comprehension levels of the young adults reading his novel, which is really rather great of him. Fair Coin is a young adult novel of substance. 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.
A good unexpected read
Fair Coin was a surprise hit for me, one I never saw coming, and one I can’t believe is over (thankfully I just received my ARC of Quantum Coin)! E.C. Myers crafted a hair-raising adventure centered around best friends and a simple “coin”. Fair Coin is reminiscent of The Butterfly Effect, except with a more Sci-Fi edge because of the sheer amount of technology presented and the in depth explanations. And it also has a dark and twisted antagonist who I both adored and loathed. Everything is not always as it appears in Fair Coin and uncovering the mystery of it all is only the tip of the iceberg in this haunting adventure. Sixteen-year-old Ephraim Scott comes home from school one day to find his mother in a devastating state, a suicide attempt based on the fact that Ephraim is presumed dead. To Ephraim this is weird because he is very much alive and in shock, but to a mother who just identified a body in the morgue as her son, this is reality. When Ephraim goes to examine the belongings of the boy his mother identified as him, he discovers not only things that resemble his own, but an odd coin. From here on out we are presented with subtle clues as to what really happened to “Ephraim”, the powers of a magical coin which can “grant” wishes, and the creation – and destruction – of relationships, friendships, and love. Overall, Fair Coin is a well written, face-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 – to a certain extent – what teenagers would do if they had the entire universe at their disposal. E.C. Myers does a wonderful job by touching lightly on the harsh realities of bullying, making friends, falling in love, making sacrifices, suicide, and alcoholism. I highly recommended it to anyone looking to invest in an entertaining quick read. The first chapter will HOOK you instantaneously, and the rest of this delightful story won’t let you go until you are screaming in agony for the next book! Originally Reviewed At: Mother/Gamer/Writer Reviewer: Me
When I first read the synopsis of this book, all I could think of was the Two Face from The Dark Night and how he had the coin that would decide his decisions. Yeah, I know crazy but that's literally what I was thinking. Ookay now let me stop raving about the movie and get onto this book. As I started reading, what propelled me through it was the plot line, with the various paradoxes. And with every chapter, the story unfold allowing the reader to learn more and also with new characters entering this adventure. With the paradoxes there is contant changing and as the reader, one must had to pay full attention or face having to back track. Ideas were presented, with some not fulling developing. With the love interest for example. There were so many things occuring that it wsn't allowed to fully expand but hopefully in the sequel, it will be able to exand more. Overall this book was one that had great ideas but confusion followed if one did not devote one's full attention to. I still recommend this book to anyone looking for a book with good plot. I give this book 3 souls!
This book kept me wanting more. I couldn't stop reading. I wanted to know what was going to happen to Ephraim, Jena, Nathan, everyone. Everyone, because everywish that Ephraim made had an effect on other people. Or thats what E.C. Myers wants you to think. Read this book if you are into exilerating stories full of horror, excitement, and an unexpected turn of events.
Fair Coin is one of my favorite reads so far of 2012. It's an incredibly smart YA book, both in terms of the scientific ideas explored and the twisty plotting that keeps you guessing without becoming utterly confusing. I take my hat off to the brain that conceived and executed this story. I also found the book very satisfying because all of the main characters are so believable--even Ephraim's dream girl Jena comes across as a real person despite his idealization of her. In lesser hands this book could have come across as hokey or forced, but Myers makes the world of the story so real--and then imbues it with such a strong sense of the uncanny when strange events start taking place--that you know you're in the hands of a master. I can't wait to see how the story continues when the sequel, Quantum Coin, hits the shelves!
This book is definitely not what I expected. For me it starting off good then got slow. Though, it kept me intrigued till the end. What I liked most about this book is the great plot line. I really loved the idea of paradoxes in the universe. For me this idea alone and the way it was written out is good. With each new chapter, the reader learns more of the paradox, rules and meets new characters. I really loved the loved interest. Though it's not really pursued in the book due to to other events happening, I like where it is going. I am hoping that in the next book, the reader can see a much more developed love interest. My only gripe about this book is due to the paradox there is constant change. You must be paying very close attention or else you can get lost or confused very quick. There are times where the paradoxes come upon the reader fast. So if you miss something you may need to back track. Overall Fair Coin is great book! It had a loads of adventure and action. Fair Coin is mysterious and compelling.
Once we finally learn the true nature of the coin, the book gets going- too bad that's 2/3rds of the way in. After that we are granted about 25 pages of some good stuff before we return to inconsistant characters, dropped stort lines, and a thoroughly unsatisfying ending.