The Coincidence Makers by Yoav Blum speculative fiction book reviewsThe Coincidence Makers by Yoav Blum fantasy book reviewsThe Coincidence Makers by Yoav Blum

Behind the scenes of our lives, pulling the strings for the benefit of humanity, are the people assigned as “coincidence makers,” arranging the events that need to happen in people’s lives, both on a personal and larger scale. It may be making a particular love connection by arranging that two people meet at the right time, or taking steps to help an accountant find his true work in being a poet, or ensuring that an assassin is pointed in the right path to later do society a larger good. Coincidence makers work for a hidden organization that supervises and directs their generally benevolent efforts, along with those of imaginary friends, dream weavers, luck distributors and other useful employees, endowing them with supernatural powers, while insisting on compliance with a plethora of bureaucratic rules and restrictions.

Guy, Emily, and Eric are all recent trainees at the job of coincidence makers. They’ve completed their training course, complete with instruction manuals and tests (“Create a traffic jam in which over 80% of the vehicles are the same color; the particular color is not important. The traffic jam must last for no more than twenty minutes. You may not use traffic accidents or traffic light malfunctions”). For the last three years they’ve been creating complex coincidences, slowly working their way up the ranks. But Emily is carrying a secret in her heart, one she can’t share, that will end up having major repercussions.

The Coincidence Makers was originally published in the Hebrew language in 2011 and is now, in 2018, being published in the U.S. It’s easy to understand why this novel quickly became a bestseller in Israel. Its premise is original, and its characters endearing if occasionally frustratingly flawed. On his website, Yoav Blum comments:

I like writing about realistic worlds with a twist, about being human, about fate, free will, the way we define ourselves and the isolation and friendships that define us. 

Blum skillfully balances whimsy, like the elaborate planning of coincidences and the occasional quasi-scholarly chapters on the theories and rules relating to coincidence-making, with serious insights into the nature of life, love, fate and free will.

Initially my only real complaint about The Coincidence Makers was its slow beginning and extended set-up; on page 75 or so it felt like we were still in the lengthy exposition phase. Then the plot suddenly kicked into gear, a couple of key events occurred, plot pieces started to fit together, and the book just exploded into awesomeness. The Coincidence Makers has the intricate, layered approach that I love, where all of the various threads start tying together in the end, with surprises and twists that I didn’t anticipate but that make complete sense in retrospect. In fact, I reread the first third of the book a couple of days later (and then read most of the rest for good measure) and its beginning didn’t seem at all sluggish the second time through, because I could see and appreciate all the hints and plot elements being laid out that would become significant later on.

The Coincidence Makers blends mystery, fantasy, and a love story. Although it has a sentimental streak, it’s far removed from a romance novel. Though it’s early in the year, I’m confident that this will be one of my favorite novels of 2018, one I’ll reread (again) and push on my friends. Highly recommended!

Originally published in 2011. 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 look 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.


  • Tadiana Jones

    TADIANA JONES, on our staff since July 2015, is an intellectual property lawyer with a BA in English. She inherited her love of classic and hard SF from her father and her love of fantasy and fairy tales from her mother. She lives with her husband and four children in a small town near the mountains in Utah. Tadiana juggles her career, her family, and her love for reading, travel and art, only occasionally dropping balls. She likes complex and layered stories and characters with hidden depths. Favorite authors include Lois McMaster Bujold, Brandon Sanderson, Robin McKinley, Connie Willis, Isaac Asimov, Larry Niven, Megan Whalen Turner, Patricia McKillip, Mary Stewart, Ilona Andrews, and Susanna Clarke.

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