The Coincidence Makers

Yoav Blum's The Coincidence Makers was a bestseller in Israel when it was first published in 2011. Not sure why it took so long, but the novel is now being translated and released in eleven countries. Reading the cover blurb for the first time, I was immediately intrigued by the premise of the story.

Advance praise raised my expectations, which is seldom a good thing. In the end, though the book is a fun tale about fate and free will, The Coincidence Makers never came close to living up to the hype. It's an entertaining novel, no question. Something light, good for the morning commute or a long weekend vacation. But it's not a story that makes an impression, or something that stays with you afterward.

Here's the blurb:

In this genre-bending novel, there is no such thing as chance and every action is carefully executed by highly trained agents. You’ll never looks at coincidences the same way again.

What if the drink you just spilled, the train you just missed, or the lottery ticket you just found was not just a random occurrence? What if it’s all part of a bigger plan? What if there’s no such thing as a chance encounter? What if there are people we don’t know determining our destiny? And what if they are even planning the fate of the world?

Enter the Coincidence Makers—Guy, Emily, and Eric—three seemingly ordinary people who work for a secret organization devoted to creating and carrying out coincidences. What the rest of the world sees as random occurrences, are, in fact, carefully orchestrated events designed to spark significant changes in the lives of their targets—scientists on the brink of breakthroughs, struggling artists starved for inspiration, loves to be, or just plain people like you and me…

When an assignment of the highest level is slipped under Guy’s door one night, he knows it will be the most difficult and dangerous coincidence he’s ever had to fulfill. But not even a coincidence maker can see how this assignment is about to change all their lives and teach them the true nature of fate, free will, and the real meaning of love.

As I mentioned, the premise hooked me up from the get-go. Yoav Blum weaves a clever and imaginative story in which seemingly random coincidences turn out to be carefully orchestrated series of events meant to engender specific outcomes. In the beginning, those inventive threads make for an enjoyable read. Even though you have no idea what this novel is supposed to be about, it's fun to follow Guy and Emily as they must create coincidences to alter the lives of their targets.

Although Blum's tale is unique and quite original, the apparent lack of direction makes you gradually lose interest as the chapters come and go. The Coincidence Makers weighs in at only 291 pages, yet it often feels as though you're reading a doorstopper. The pace can be extremely slow and the plot drags along at a snail's pace. The structure of the book probably doesn't help. Indeed, some chapters occur in "real time", while others are flashbacks scenes focusing on the characters' training as coincidence makers, and some feature extracts from coincidence making manuals.

For some reason, I found it hard to connect with the protagonists. Guy and Emily take center stage and are fully-developed characters. Still, for some reason, I found it hard to root for them. Both of them are broken and flawed and genuine. But there was something missing. Something I can't quite put my finger on.

Having said that, Yoav Blum's debut is an extremely well-written and multilayered work of fiction. Had I connected with the protagonists, I reckon I would have enjoyed it a lot more. And yet, there is no denying that the ending was amazing and saved The Coincidence Makers for me. A bit more foreshadowing in the early parts would have helped the plot not feel so muddled, methinks. And it would have made the ending even more powerful.

Given the fact that Blum's The Coincidence Makers is unlike anything else on the market today, your mileage may vary. A quick perusal of online reviews shows that most people have enjoyed it more than I did. If you can overlook a somewhat drab characterization, and if you usually like a cute story with a fully satisfying ending, this one might be for you.

The final verdict: 7/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

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