Quantum Coin by E. C. Myers, sequel to Fair Coin, follows Ephraim and his friends as they attempt to puzzle out why parallel universes are disappearing, before the worlds that they call home, along with their friends and family, succumb to this disturbing phenomenon.
I found the first novel to be fairly self-contained, which made me wonder where the sequel was headed. I was delightfully surprised to learn that there was a more in depth story behind the “coin” traveling device, and that this plot arc does well to carry the characters through the second book. Quantum Coin strikes a good balance between that resolved, episodic feeling, and the feeling you get when you finally learn why Bad Wolf is in the background of so many Dr. Who episodes.
I am even more in love with the science in Quantum Coin, but to tell you why would spoil the plot. Let’s just say that E. C. Myers has a knack for describing complex concepts in a Big Picture way that readers can easily digest. It’s the part of Chemistry class that I liked, the conceptual part, minus the math needed to calculate how much energy an electron gives off when it jumps down a level. Don’t worry, you won’t be balancing equations to get to the end. Quantum Coin is less concerned with nitty gritty science than it is with heavy philosophical questions, such as the definition of self.
As in the first book, Quantum Coin defines each character as an individual separate from their analogs in parallel universes. In fact, the sequel goes even further into this theme by questioning Ephraim’s decision to withhold information from his best friend based on the actions of Nathan’s analog. At the same time, Ephraim witnesses yet another act that brings his friend’s character into question, and this time from a “good” analog. Throughout the book, Ephraim must discern who to trust as the group of them seek the proper solution to the drastic changes in the multiverse.
Through these trials, Ephraim shows that he has matured from the beginning of book one, and so have his romantic concerns. In Quantum Coin, most of the relationship questions revolved not around the sex drive of a teenager, but around the idea that Ephraim’s significant others are real people whose feelings – and ultimately, their life path – are influenced by Ephraim’s actions. In contrast to these high moral themes, one of my favorite parts of the book was Ephraim’s foil analog, Dick. If Nathan gets the short end of the stick analog wise in Fair Coin, Dick helps even things out in Quantum Coin, and proves once and for all that individuals in E. C. Myer’s universe are not beholden to every Dick, Jane, or Harry that happens to share their genetic code. Though, they might feel somewhat beholden to children of said analogs. Oops! Spoilers!