Tom's Reviews > Quantum Coin

Quantum Coin by E.C. Myers
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's review
Oct 24, 12

Read from October 23 to 24, 2012

If you're having girl troubles I feel bad for you son... you got 99 parallel universes and a girlfriend in every one.

Quantum Coin is the follow up to Fair Coin, which was a fun YA romp about a geeky kid named Ephraim Scott who discovers a quarter in his locker that lets him jump into parallel universes. And in some of them, Jena Kim, the girl of his dreams, actually likes him.

The sci-fi twist is that in a more futuristic version of their world, Jena, Ephraim and his best friend Nathan are reality-hopping explorers. The 'quarter' that Ephraim discovers is actually one half of a device keyed specifically to his biometrics that allows them to universe-hop.

But the three teens encounter alternate versions of themselves called 'analogs' in almost every universe they visit, and trouble starts when one of the Nathans turns out to be a psychopath who strands Ephraim in a terrifying alternate-reality.

But by the end of Fair Coin Ephraim gets the girl (in this case a hard-edged 'analog' of Jena Kim named Zoe Kim), thwarts Evil Nathan, and returns to his home reality. The coin's power is used up and all seems to be restored to normal.

Quantum Coin picks up a year later. Ephraim is now dating the Jena Kim from his own reality and everything seems peachy. Until Zoe Kim shows up, having escaped from her own parallel universe, to tell Ephraim that things are falling apart and the Multiverse itself is at stake!

Yes, really.

Something is causing the fabric of the parallel universes to unravel and Ephraim and Zoe, with Jena tagging along, need to figure out what.

High-schoolers saving the very existence of the universe may seem a little bit cheesy, and it is, but this ludicrous plot-line is more than made up for by the joys of watching Ephraim squirm while jealous alternate-reality versions of his girlfriend fight over him. Although sexual tension abounds and all the characters are constantly talking about sex, no one ever actually does the deed.

Often when sci-fi stories feature teenagers, their personal dramas are groan inducing while the plot is fascinating. In Quantum Coin, it's the other way around. Author E.C. Myers draws vivid characters who relate to each other in realistic ways. He also makes their analogs believable. It's interesting meeting Ephraims, Jenas and Nathans who differ in dramatic yet plausible ways thanks to their experiences in their own universes.

But Quantum Coin has a much more sci-fi driven plot than its prequel, and here's where it stumbles. Ephraim and his friends are called on to help their older, reality-traveling analogs put the multiverse back to rights when things start going haywire. While the rules of universe-hopping were spelled out pretty clearly in the first book, in this one those rules pretty much go out the window. There are multiple controllers for changing realities and sometimes you don't even need one, and the more the mechanics of the Myers' multiverse are explained the less they make sense.

This book also suffers from a lack of a strong central villain like the first one had. There isn't really a villain in Quantum Coin, just some occasionally misguided people who are trying, along with the reader, to figure out what the heck is happening.

It will ultimately come down to a choice for Ephraim: what version of his girlfriend does he really want to be with, and what version of himself does he want to be? This is a much more compelling story than the highly dubious multiverse plot. Fortunately the author realizes that by the end, and brings the focus back to where it should be: on Ephraim, Nathan, and Jena/Zoe.

Worth reading, but definitely pick up Fair Coin first.
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