BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Ephraim thought his troubles with the multiverse were over. That is, until he has an unexpected reunion with a close friend from another dimension. Now Eph and his friends in this reality and the next must work together if they are to prevent the multiverse from hitting ‘reset.’
PROS: Lovable characters, theoretical science, youthful energy, and complex relationships.
CONS: Loose ends tie up a little too neatly.
BOTTOM LINE: Not just a great YA novel, Quantum Coin is a great science fiction novel in general. There is an abundance of heart and science to go around.
“I was promised flying cars and jetpacks,” Ephraim said.
“You got alternate universes. Don’t be greedy,” Nathaniel said.
Ephraim Scott is just a regular guy. A regular guy that has traveled across multiple dimensions and ended the crime spree of a sociopath alternate of his best friend. All that dimension hopping is now behind him and he is eager to move on with his life. Then Zoe, an alternate version of his girl friend Jena, crosses over into his reality. The multiverse is unraveling and Eph is needed to set things straight. The mission may not be so simple this time, given that meddling in alternate realities could be the very source of the problem.
Young adults are not stupid. Really, they’re not. Just a couple months ago I read Fair Coin by E.C. Myers and it blew me away. Finally, a YA novel that broke away from the dystopia bandwagon and provided a science fiction journey that didn’t skimp on the science! Oh, and the romance angle was even handled well, and this is coming from a guy who is extra hard on romances in fiction. Myers told a cautionary tale in the vein of The Monkey’s Paw and The Butterfly Effect but with geek sensibilities. I had no clue that Quantum Coin would be released this year and it was a pleasant surprise to find the ARC sitting in my mailbox.
Quantum Coin sets the ball rolling pretty quickly, opening with the reunion of Ephraim and Zoe. This is followed by a refresher for those who may not remember parts of the first book. The refresher is organically integrated to the story so you don’t have to worry about being yanked out of the narrative. Due to the nature of Zoe’s return to Ephraim’s reality, Jena gets involved. This is the start of an awesome love-triangle as Eph has to figure out which version he loves, all while trying to save the multiverse. Fictional romance usually irritates me to no end. So often the relationships feel forced and artificial. And that’s just the regular relationships, not even taking into account the godawful love-triangles. The thing is I never felt bothered by the Ephraim/Jena/Zoe connection. To be honest, I couldn’t get enough of it. The interplay between Jena and Zoe was funny and I actually felt invested in the choice that Ephraim had to make.
This could partly because the characters are so well drawn. Ephraim is a good guy. He has matured since the escapades of Fair Coin and learned that you can’t solve life’s myriad problems by wishing them away. He takes his mistakes and faults personally. He is also a teenage guy. Myers doesn’t write an adult in an adolescent’s body like a lot of YA authors. Eph is a true blue teenage male, with the same wants and desires. The banter between Eph and Nathan is hilarious to the point where I wish Nathan had a bigger role in the book. What is remarkable about the other characters is how individual they are, given the fact that they are alternates of each other. Zoe, Jena, and Doctor Kim are all quite unique despite having identical DNA. The same goes for Nathan and Nathaniel. This was an aspect that impressed me so greatly with Fair Coin and it only develops further in Quantum Coin. It is enough to get the readers wondering what alternate versions of themselves might be like.
Also remarkable is the theoretical science that Myers works into the plot. Now that readers know that the coin is not magical the science is able to shine. Myers doesn’t spend any time exploring the mechanical components of the Charon device, but he does probe into the theories behind the multiverse with aplomb. Quantum Coin is much heavier on the theory than its counterpart but is consistently enlightening and entertaining. There is enough detail to support the plot without overloading the novel with information. Had I read a book like this when I was younger I may have taken my science studies more seriously in school.
The plot is fast paced, with our heroes rushing from one universe to the next. Most of the universes they visit are similar to our own, nothing so far removed as a world where the people have superpowers. There are variations though, and there is a cause and effect correlation for such variations. Fair Coin was slightly tighter, given a true antagonist. The danger facing the multiverse this time around is much more immediate but it is also conceptual.