I have really been loving Science Fiction this year, so as soon as read the description for ‘Brilliance’ by Marcus Sakey I knew it would be exactly the book for me.
Author: Marcus Sakey
Date published: 2013
Page Count: 429
In Wyoming, a little girl reads people’s darkest secrets by the way they fold their arms. In New York, a man sensing patterns in the stock market racks up $300 billion. In Chicago, a woman can go invisible by being where no one is looking. They’re called “brilliants,” and since 1980, one percent of people have been born this way. Nick Cooper is among them; a federal agent, Cooper has gifts rendering him exceptional at hunting terrorists. His latest target may be the most dangerous man alive, a brilliant drenched in blood and intent on provoking civil war. But to catch him, Cooper will have to violate everything he believes in – and betray his own kind.
From Marcus Sakey, “a modern master of suspense” (Chicago Sun-Times) and “one of our best storytellers” (Michael Connelly), comes an adventure that’s at once breakneck thriller and shrewd social commentary; a gripping tale of a world fundamentally different and yet horrifyingly similar to our own, where being born gifted can be a terrible curse.
Brilliance is a strongly written action packed science fiction book with a sound plot and interesting setting. Since 1980, a small percentage of the population were born with special gifts-the ability to read a persons emotions through body language, en-heightened senses and extreme intelligence are some of the few power these brilliants possess.
The strongest part of the book is the setting and world created by Sakey. Immediately we get a strong idea of where this story is set, with the political and social environment immediately introduced. Similar to the scenario seen in many Superhero movies (X-Men and Civil War for example) the general public are frightened and threatened by the powers the brilliants possess and what they can achieve with their gifts. Political bodies get involved suggesting registration and surveillance for these people, military and intelligence agencies work on developing new technology with the brilliants that cooperate and send teams to track down those that don’t and the friction between the brilliants and the rest of society slowly builds.
This fear of those different is so ingrained into the society, and even the main character Cooper, who is gifted, believes that these people must be controlled for the good of the greater society. It is refreshing to see a main character who is so cynical of the world he lives in and free in his narration to us-not holding back with his language, dark humor and often tells it as is it. His development and views on the brilliants grows throughout the book and his character is well written and built-I felt like everything he did and said had a reason and was perfectly reasonable given his character.
Plot wise it is not the most quick moving story. It does take a lot of time to get into the bulk of the story, as much of the first couple of chapters is the build up to start of the actual story-but the context that these pages provides is incredibly important for the overall plot arc. What I loved most about the was the slow uncovering of conspiracy theory-and when this is done well (as it is in this book) it makes an action book so much more complex and just better. The build up, and eventual fall out, of the revelation is perfectly done. We are given the information page by page and while at first the information seems unimportant, the blanks are slowly filled in and the climax of Coopers investigation is one of the most exciting scenes I have read in a while.
I am really looking forward to reading the second installment in this series as I honestly have no idea where it will go. While the end of ‘Brilliance’ did give a hint as to what may happen in ‘A Better World’ there are so many directions the story can take and I am excited to explore more of the political and social environment the series is set in.