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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 kindFrom 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


10 thoughts on “Brilliance

  1. says:

    Brilliance can be a curse when the dirty mudbloods are enviousPeople with special talents government conspiracy moral philosophy ethics the usual thriller stuff but it´s especially amazing for readers like me with one important reuirement Not having read all the amazing comic universes out there Still to come I am so looking forward too but not feeling ready especially regarding being able to fully enjoy the English originals For others especially the US and UK fraction who grew up or are growing up with comics all around them this might certainly feel like a combination of some classic talents to build an own universe But if one doesn´t know it it´s incredible one doesn´t get this stuff with average Sci Fi or fantasy that is focused on worldbuilding it has a style and taste of its own and it opened one uestion What will come what new comic superhero fantasy sci fi horror books and graphic novels are still out there screaming to be created?Especially today where there is the full potential for crossover hybrids with everyone having access to all works and much important to the creative writing lectures for all three kinds of main über genres character driven plot driven and the best and most difficult one the chimeras mixing it without a second of infodump not dialogued or actioned exposition and a flow so strong it eats away weeks of life with one bite Looking at you Brandon Sanderson you geniusI like plot focused technothrillers with hard cuts cliffhangers and many open uestions and special talents and don´t really care much about character´s credibility logic or emotional excesses That´s also why I am the wrong person to rate the with a look at the reviews criticism of the protagonists uality and fast action writing style I´m a too easy going and to satisfy dude for that I deem it a bit unfair too because in certain genres world and plot come before characterization and I don´t read stuff with boring just people idiot driveling feeling and stuff Tastes differ and I don´t get people poaching in genres they don´t prefer I mean they get it with food why not with art it´s mysteriousThe series gets better and better with each part give it a try even if you are in the mentioned comic knowledge pro group and could be thinking about when you saw what in which series instead of enjoying the new adaptionA wiki walk can be as refreshing to the mind as a walk through nature in this completely overrated real life outside books


  2. says:

    When I was a small maggot I read a lot of thrillers My father would give me his hand me down paperbacks all called things like DEAD MAN RUNNING and POINT BLANK and AGENT ZERO All featuring manly authors in leather jackets on the back cover often posing with their dogs SUVs or Kalishnikovs And I liked themI really did I would speed through them in a day and daydream about car chases And then I'd go read some Diana Wynne Jones or Susan Cooper fantasies It's hard coming back to them as an adult though I'm a different sort of reader and I want different sorts of things I want car chases but I want to know the characters involved intimately or I don't care I want to see the scenery in a different way I want an impeccably told thriller and I don't want to hurry through it in a day I want to be entertained dammitWell BRILLIANCE entertained me Sakey draws his protagonist Nick Cooper with fond wry strokes He's charming and flawed a divorced family man a devoted government agent a dutiful speeder Cooper I can't speak for Sakey The conceit of the novel is excellent too — in this version of the world a small but growing population of the world has been born brilliant blessed with preternatural pattern recognition or somesuch thing and the world is on fire with the shock and revolution of it It makes for some fascinating metaphors — I love me some metaphors — and some laugh out loud moments such as one page that talks about how the world would look if the brilliants had never come alongIt also makes this a thriller you could take to book club because it has layers to talk about You can read it fast or slow and there's something for both of those readsWhat else do I want to say? It's a bit slow in the first third but I trust that my glowing recommendation will make you overlook that And it's mostly about pretty people but I mostly write about pretty people too so I can't say anything EVERYONE IS PRETTY ON THE INSIDE DEAR READERFarewell I'm glad to hear that you've gone off and ordered this The cover's cool too In person it is all tactile


  3. says:

    25 starsTwo main issues1 This is written almost like a screenplay There is little character or relationship development But there is action and espionage Other reviewers have compared it to X Men which is fair except mutant superheros are so much interesting than brilliants This is one book that might make a better movie and it's not often you'll hear me say that2 Which brings me to my second gripe The premise here isn't very gripping or believable In the year 2013 in an alternate version of the present there are normal people and then there are brilliants aka twists abnorms The brilliants are really super smart like savant smart; they can read patterns write code predict the stock market read others' body language etc But wait don't we have really smart brilliant people living now? Yup We have prodigies geniuses the gifted etc And the world hasn't come crashing down But in Sakey's book the brilliants are a problem They are a threat to society One abnorm made billions in stocks essentially causing Wall Street to come tumbling and shutting down the world as we know it Sakey is a fan of free market economics that's for sure The description of this book is also misleading We get glimpses of abnorms and their lives but this is not a subtle character driven novel; it's a verbal action flick a political thriller Nick Cooper works for a US government agency that monitors and kills abnorms; the kicker is that Cooper is brilliant himself as is his 4 year old daughter Getting whiff of a terrorist abnorm plot that would kill thousands Cooper doesn't know whom to trust He has to save the world AND his family from the clutches of evil The plot was cookie cutter predictable and the premise on which the plot hinged fairly inane Because I like meat in my novels I found it dull and the action wasn't enough to fully keep my attention Some of the writing was also clunky with stilted dialogue a surprise considering this isn't Sakey's first novel but predictably the first in a series


  4. says:

    25 or 3 stars Not what I wanted it to be More of a cop one man saving the world drama and that is not my gig Also the writing felt like a bad cop show


  5. says:

    Savant syndrome is a known condition in which a person demonstrates profound and prodigious capacities or abilities far in excess of what would be considered normal Although this is often linked to autism in circa 50% of cases the impacted child is non autistic What would happen if a proportion of the population started to show highly enhanced skills to the extent they represented a superior human being able to achieve things the rest of us simply aren’t capable of? Such is the premise behind this excellent thriller from Marcus SakeyIn his book such a change is noted in the 1980’s and the story – set in an alternative present day – gives us a glimpse of how the world well specifically America might look These gifted individuals are called ‘brilliants’ though a number of other terms are also used and some of them have already had wide ranging impact such as the closure of the stock exchange due to the demonstrated ability of one brilliant to ‘read’ movements and amass a huge fortune To be clear the enhanced skills are abilities of the mind that sometimes translate into physical advantages for example an ability to read body language or to anticipate movements of large groups of people thus enabling uick and ‘near invisible’ passage through the crowd To some degree this approach is reminiscent of X men or probably a better comparison would be The Champions a British television series of the late 1960’sWe follow the tale of a government agent whose task it is to track down and if necessary eliminate so called troublesome brilliants Following the brutal public killing of a group of innocent people our agent is hunting the brilliant deemed responsible for the atrocity There are side issues to deal with too such as some specific impacts to his family It’s a truly exciting journey blending science fiction with the energy and pace of a top crime fiction thrillerAs well as an ability to entertain – and it does entertain – the book poses some interesting philosophical and moral uestions It exposes the natural human reaction to something or someone ‘different’ The treatment meted out to non troublesome brilliants has the feel of discrimination and segregation apparent from our own recent history The extreme responses made in an attempt to keep things as they are to maintain the status uo smell of recent reactions to some other minority groups And the setting up of an enclave for this particular minority group has distinct parallels with the establishment of a Jewish state in IsraelMy only negative reaction to the book was that some of the enhanced skills feel a little too enhanced That aside the whole depiction strikes me as a believable alternative reality The technological advancements made by these individuals are a logical step up from where we are now and the political and public reactions are credible It’s well plotted and fast moving with the action scenes being particularly well drawn I can’t wait to get to the follow up book


  6. says:

    Brilliance is a captivating and thought provoking thriller that serves at one level as a parable about the course of events in the United States in the wake of the 911 attacksThe premise of the plot is that beginning roughly in 1980 once percent of the babies born in the world were Brilliants highly gifted geniuses with intellectual and other powers that dwarfed those of Normals The pattern was first recognized by a study in 1986 and since then the world has watched with awe the accomplishments of the Brilliants The most highly gifted among them the Tier Ones had incredible abilities One of them Erik Epstein single handedly proved to be so adept at anticipating the stock market that the government was force to close down the New York Stock Exchange after Epstein compiled a fortune of 300 billion destroying the investments of countless othersInevitably many Normals feared that they were rapidly being shunted into obsolescence and that soon they would be irrelevant perhaps even turned into the slaves of the Brilliants Conseuently some began to demand that the government should take steps to prevent the potential damage that the Brilliants might pose to the society and to the larger populationAccordingly the American government created a new agency the Department of Analysis and Response the DAR to gauge the potential threat posed by the Brilliants and to react to it The Brilliants insisted that they were American citizens and that the government had no right to curtail their freedoms simply because some Normals felt threatened by their gifts Many Normals supported those arguments and the vast majority of Brilliants remained solid citizens simply trying to live their lives without threatening anyoneAs the Brilliants began to dominate and aspects of the society though even including the NFL those who feared them grew louder and the government began limiting the freedom of the Brilliants The Brilliants lobbied and marched for the maintenance of their rights but a handful of them were ready to take violent action in support of their rightsFor a number of years the DAR limped along underfunded and unable to get much traction in its campaign against the Brilliants There were threats of a congressional investigation into the actions of the DAR but then a Brilliant terrorist named John Smith led a brazen attack against a Washington DC restaurant assassinating a US Senator and mercilessly gunning down 73 other men women and childrenSurveillance video of the attack went viral and the American public stirred by the media demanded revenge Overnight the DAR's budget was ramped up and its powers were greatly expanded even to the point of giving some of its agents a license to kill All children were now to be tested at the age of eight and those testing as Tier One Brilliants would be removed from their families and sent to special academies in an effort to shape their gifts in a way that would not threaten the NormalsInevitably many Brilliants felt threatened by these actions and acted to protect their rights as American citizens A special unit of the DAR the Euitable Response Unit was commissioned to hunt down those perceived to be the greatest threats and who were branded as terrorists Whether these terrorists were captured dead or alive seemed to be of little conseuenceOne such agent is Nick Cooper He's an ex soldier divorced with two small children Cooper is himself a Brilliant with a special talent for tracking down terrorists He is appalled by their actions and even though he supports traditional rights and liberties for the Brilliants he believes that the extremists among them must be eliminated The Holy Grail for Cooper and the rest of the Euitable Response Unit would be to kill John Smith the mastermind of the attack in WashingtonAfter another terrorist attack Cooper gets his chance to go after Smith But at the same time he discovers much to his dismay that his four year old daughter is almost certainly a Tier One Brilliant This means that she will be taken from the family and sent to an academy a thought that devastates Cooper who has seen the work of these academies up close and despises themNick Cooper is now a man at war with himself at once determined to kill the elusive John Smith while at the same time protecting his family The result is a wild ride that leads to a shocking climax Marcus Sakey has written a brilliant thriller both because it tells a terrifically engrossing story and also because it raises some very troubling uestions about the way in which a democratic society reacts to a perceived threat The book should appeal to large numbers of readers


  7. says:

    This is the first book in the 'Brilliance Saga' about exceptionally gifted people being targeted by government agencies Sound familiar? 😊Beginning in the 1980s a small percentage of humans with unusual abilities began to be born These people called brilliants or abnorms cause fear in average people who are concerned about what the brilliants might do An abnorm called Erik Epstein for example uses his stock market savviness to amass a fortune of 300 billion dollarsThis causes stock exchanges to close creating havoc among investors and businesses One abnorm is a human lie detector another moves so surreptitiously that she seems to appear out of thin air Regular people are afraid that brilliants might band together to take over the countryTo subdue people's anxiety the United States government develops new programs to deal with abnorms Gifted children for example are separated from their families and sent to special Academies where they're given new names and brainwashed into distrusting their own kind And Congress is trying to pass a law that reuires all abnorms to have a 'chip' inserted close to the carotid artery so they can be tracked at all times Shades of Nazi GermanySome brilliants who abhor these policies become terrorists The most ruthless terrorist is John Smith who supervises the slaughter of 73 patrons including children in an upscale Washington DC restaurant and perpetrates deadly bombingsTo combat the abnorm terrorists the government creates an agency called the Department of Analysis and Response DAR whose mission is to hunt down and kill dangerous brilliants One of the leading DAR agents is himself an abnorm named Nick Cooper whose ability to read body language lets him know exactly what a person is about to do This gives Nick a big advantage in hostile situations and he has tracked down and assassinated many abnorm criminals and extremistsNick is also a divorced father with two children that he dearly loves Ironically Nick just discovered that his four year old daughter is a high level abnorm whose abilities have attracted attention Thus the little girl is about to be tested by authorities and will undoubtedly be sent to an Academy Nick and his ex wife who have an amicable relationship don't want this to happenAfter another massive bombing which kills over a thousand people Nick makes a hush hush deal with his supervisor Drew Peters Peters will announce that Nick is responsible for the bombing and Nick will go on the run DAR agents won't be in on the deception and will attempt to hunt Nick down As a result Nick will acuire street cred that helps him infiltrate Smith's inner circle and hopefully kill the terrorist In return for Smith's demise Nick's young daughter won't be tested and won't go to an AcademyIn his undercover role Nick teams up with a beautiful 'fellow extremist' named Shannon Azzi which leads to some interesting developments and a few surprising twists That's about all I can say without giving too much awayThe premise of the story that authorities want to control or eliminate 'exceptional' people is interesting but not especially original The same kind of theme is seen in X men Heroes and numerous superhero tales Still the abnorms in 'Brilliance' are uniue because their abilities are generally associated with mental superiority rather than the ability to fly become invisible shoot lightning out of their fingers etcThere's a nice mix of characters in the story including different kinds of brilliants various DAR executives Nick's DAR partner the principal of an Academy Nick's ex wife and Some characters are good guys some notand it's not always obvious who's who In fact Nick comes off as uite a hypocrite wanting his daughter to be treated differently than other abnormsI enjoyed the book which held my interest and led to a compelling climax Recommended for science fiction fansYou can follow my reviews at


  8. says:

    Mr SakeyCongratulations Due to its high cliche content and complete lack of original ideas your novel has been selected for optioning as a major Hollywood film In order to maximize your chances of success it's suggested you consider addressing the following concerns raised by our staff of readers a woman who can make herself practically invisible due to an intuitive understanding of where people won't be looking is pretty cool She is not however walking through walls in even the most liberal sense of that phrase so labeling her The Girl Who Walks Through Walls just seems silly Also Stieg Larsson's estate would like to have a word with you if you're going to provide details about the environment please don't have them immediately contradicted by character behavior If your hero is complaining about the heat of a Wyoming summer's afternoon he's unlikely to spend the next two hours sitting in a parked car with the windows up without remarking on how unpleasant it is Or if it's cold enough outside at night that he worries about hypothermia it's unlikely he'd then have a nude romantic interlude that ends with him sleeping outside please don't have your entire plot hinge on none of the characters remembering that the internet exists If you tell your audience repeatedly that a character is a master strategist and his master plan fails because he sent his ransom video to NBC instead of putting it on Youtube it will substantially undermine that character's characterization as a master strategistOn second thought Mr Sakey don't change a thing With so many idiotic plot holes two dimensional characters and things going kaboom your current novel is a prime candidate for adaptation by Michael BaySincerelyMeUPDATE 992019As of this morning the AV Club is reporting that Will Smith will be starring in Akiva Goldsmith's adaptation of 'Brilliance' an outcome so predictable and on the nose Marcus Sakey could have written it


  9. says:

    Brilliance Brilliance Saga #1 by Marcus Sakey is a fantasy book that I found fascinating In this world some people were born with gifts and all kids were tested for these gifts at the age of 8 If they were found to have this they were sent to schools and not seen until graduation and then often they didn't come home No one knew what went on in the schools There was a 'bad guy' with a gift call John Smith who was accused of killing a lot of people and blowing up a building Our hero is a brilliant someone with a gift that works for the government He thinks he is helping by working for the government and wants to get John Smith Until he doesn'tA wonderful game of cat and mouse with lots of twists and turns I love this kind of story


  10. says:

    nifty thriller featuring super powered types working for Big Government hunting other super powered types who want to topple said government comparisons to X Men et al were diminished due to the exciting but often subtle and mainly non physical powers on display eg our protagonist's power is pattern recognition which was fascinating although the plot is standard herotrue believer slowly realizing the agency he's worked and killed for are the true villains there is pleasure to be had in the familiar particularly when the writing is polished and the pacing dynamic the last section was especially exciting and definitely page turning page turning overall I had a great time reading this one despite the caveats but not criticisms below and I had to force myself to not immediately start reading its seuelalthough many have noted that the shadow of 911 looms over Brilliance's plot reading it in the year 2018 also created its own deeply ugly resonance all of the sound and fury that is happening right now over difference including but not limited to how dangerous immigrants supposedly are in this here Land of Liberty and the issue of children being separated from parents made reading this an often uncomfortable experience reality is uncomfortable even when present in a novel about special powers fortunately Sakey has his heart and ideals in the right place despite being discomfited seeing my fiction reflect my reality the author's moral stance made this story of a rallying cry rather than an irritating cautionary talescattered throughout Brilliance are various snippets that help fill out this world interviews articles advertisements etc my favorite was an ad for a book that details a scary alternate reality that could have occurred if brilliants hadn't ever been born of course that description of a scary alternate reality is actually a description of the world we are living in right now