Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Book Review: The Coincidence Makers by Yoav Blum

Pros: fascinating world, interesting characters, tight ending, thought-provoking


Guy, Emily, and Eric are coincidence makers. They receive a white envelope with their mission parameters, and then arrange for those conditions to be met, resulting in a love affair, a new career, a dream attained, whatever is required for the humans around them. Then Guy gets a strange new assignment, one that will change his life.

I first heard of this book not long after seeing the film The Adjustment Bureau. I loved the film (note, it has little resemblance to the Philip K. Dick short story it was based on), but more than that, I loved the idea that there’s a bureaucracy in charge of planning fate for certain people. So I was curious what Blum would would do with his idea regarding those who plan coincidences. Make no mistake, while the ideas are similar, the execution is very different - and excellent in both cases.  

In the first half of the book you learn a lot about who the coincidence makers are and how they’re trained as you witness the three of them working on different cases. This part is heavily character driven, which I didn’t mind as there was so much to learn about the world and people that I didn’t really notice the plot was light. The second half of the book becomes more plot heavy as the various threads introduced earlier start to pull together into a cohesive - and immensely satisfying - ending.

I loved that their world includes things like imaginary friends and that there’s a history to coincidence making where theories change and develop over time. 

The characters are all quirky, with different foibles. Eric creates coincidences so he can go on dates. Guy plans his coincidences on one wall of his apartment so he can visualize what has to happen when. The side characters were a lot of fun too, especially the General.

The book makes you think about why people act certain ways when it comes to making decisions. It encourages looking at the larger picture. It is at times heartbreaking and at others sublime.

This is a fun, quirky book, that didn’t go where I thought it would, but looking back there’s no other way it could have gone. Definitely worth the read.

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