Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Coincidence Makers

Title:  The Coincidence Makers
Author:  Yoav Blum
Publication Information:  St. Martin's Press. 2018. 304 pages.
ISBN:  1250146119 / 978-1250146113

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "Look at the line of time."

Favorite Quote:  "'At the far left ... are all of the people who really think that everything is completely coincidental ... And on the other end are all of the people who are sure that there's a reason for everything ... The people standing at the two extremes are the happiest people in the world. At both ends. Do you know why? because they they don't ask why. Never. Not at all. There's no point, because either they believe there's no answer, or they believe that someone is responsible for the answer and that it's none of their business. But these people aren't even one-thousandth of the population. Most people stand in the range between them. No, they don't stand. They go, they move. They constantly move in one direction and then the other. They think they're on one of the sides, but occasionally, nonetheless, they ask themselves why and don't understand that they'll be happy only if they let go of this question, for whatever reason."

A coincidence maker is a trained individual skilled in nudging events that cause a ripple effect of other effects. Chaos theory uses the classic example the butterfly effect. The bat of a single butterfly wing can be traced to impact the path and occurrence of a tornado weeks later. Given the precise set of circumstances and occurrences, a seemingly insignificant coincidence can potentially change an entire life.

This novel puts forth an unnamed organization that in different way interact with and influence the human world. Imaginary friends exist only as long as someone imagines them. Coincidence makers are recruited, trained, and given mission creating coincidences. The higher the level of the coincidence maker, the more complex the coincidences they create and the more complex the tools they have available to them. The rules are strict, and the consequences of breaking the rules are severe. The department is run by someone named only The General.

Eric, Guy, and Emily meet as one incoming class of coincidence makers. Surrounding them are the subjects of their coincidences. The book focuses primarily on Guy, but flips back and forth between the three and even the targets of their coincidences. The book also is nonlinear in time going from the present into Guy's past. Flashbacks introduce a few more characters. At first, that makes the book a bit challenging to follow. Then,  I realize that the confusion matches the theme of the book. I allow myself as a reader to be nudged back and forth between the threads of the story. I enjoy the process of thinking about what direction is going to go.

The targets of Guy's mission are a businessman and a killer for hire. That implies a thrill ride and action.  However, I realize that the book is more about the characters and the emotions; this is about the coincidence makers not the coincidences. That gives the book almost a philosophical bent and raises questions about free will versus predetermination, choice versus coincidence, and other such questions. The story anchors these questions in characters who become real and a story of love achieved and lost.

"There's always a broader picture. There's always something beyond the system you're concentrating on. Never forget that. There are no clear boundaries. Life doesn't stop at the boundaries of the table. And there are always more than six pockets you can fall into. There is always something beyond. Always, always, always."  This statement in a nutshell is the lesson of this book. For most of this book, I don't see where this book is going. I mean that in the best way possible. At times, the story is a set of distinct threads. I know that they are coming together. I have hypotheses as to how and why, and I am completely wrong. It is not until almost the end that everything does come together. It does so in a way I do not see coming. So, clearly, I concentrated on the wrong thing, and as a result had a great reading experience.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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