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(Brilliance Saga #1)

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  32,038 ratings  ·  2,435 reviews
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, ...more
Paperback, 444 pages
Published July 16th 2013 by Thomas & Mercer
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John It's too mature for kids that age, but I'm also unsure where the reference to incest and pedophilia is coming from, I just finished this and that simp…moreIt's too mature for kids that age, but I'm also unsure where the reference to incest and pedophilia is coming from, I just finished this and that simply isn't true. (less)

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Average rating 3.97  · 
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 ·  32,038 ratings  ·  2,435 reviews

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Mario the lone bookwolf
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sakey-marcus
Brilliance can be a curse when the dirty mudbloods are envious.

People with special talents, government conspiracy, moral philosophy, ethics, the usual thriller stuff, but it´s especially amazing for readers like me with one important requirement: 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 u
Maggie Stiefvater
Oct 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult, recommended
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 them.

I 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
~✡~Dαni(ela) ♥ ♂♂ love & semi-colons~✡~
2.5 stars

Two main issues:

1. 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 more interesting than "brilliants." This is one book that might make a better movie (and it's not often you'll hear me say that).

2. Which brings me to my second gripe: The premise here isn't very gripping or believable. In the year 2013, in an a
Dec 18, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-owned-read
2.5 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.
Andrew Smith
Dec 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
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 behin ...more
James Thane
Apr 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: marcus-sakey
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 9/11 attacks.

The 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 accom
Jun 11, 2017 rated it liked it

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 dollars.

This causes s
Montzalee Wittmann
Sep 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Oct 28, 2014 rated it did not like it
Mr. Sakey,

Congratulations! 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 l
mark monday
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 e.g. our protagonist's power is "pattern recognition" (which was fascinating). although the plot is standard - hero/true believer slowly realizing the agency he's worked and killed for are the true villains - there is pleasure to be had ...more
Tim The Enchanter
Aug 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of superhuman abilities and fans of books with Libertarian themes
Brilliant (is that lame...) - 4 Stars

Marcus Sakey is a "new to me" author. Given that he was born about an hour from where I live (albeit in another country) I am going to pretend he is a local author because good writing from local authors is cool. While Brilliance wasn't perfect and the plotline was not especially original, I was captivated by the story from the outset.


Around 30 years before the commencement of the story, "Brilliants" began to appear in the human population. They
Rachel the Book Harlot
Jan 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of action films.
"I hate it, all of it. But we are vastly outnumbered. Normal people are frightened, and frightened people are dangerous. The fact is, we, abnorms, brilliants, twists, we cannot survive a war. We will lose."

This was such a wild ride filled with action goodness. Brilliance by Marcus Sakey is a sci fi thriller that plays out like an action film. There were moments that actually made me say "holy crap!", and heart-pounding scenes that left me a little breathless.

Nick Cooper, the main characte
Jan 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book is up for sale on Amazon so often I honestly wonder how the author makes any money. And it's not like it's up for sale so that you'll have to buy the sequels at full price, no way. The sequels are up for sale as much as anything else.

And I honestly hope this guy makes some money. I had a great time with the first of the Brilliance saga. He's created a very real world, well, a real consequence of people turning out with extreme gifts that make them leaps and bounds above the average hum
Larry H
Aug 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Just wow. I cannot get over this book.

In the mid 1980s, children with exceptional gifts started being born. More than extreme intelligence or ability, these children have talents beyond any ever seen—reading a person's thoughts or intentions just by looking at them, being able to transform themselves into what ever a person wishes, the ability to become invisible and move where no one is expecting. Labeled "brilliants," they comprise 1 percent of the U.S. population, and pose both tremendou
Liz Barnsley
Admittedly “Brilliance” is a book that I totally went for on impulse – I wasn’t sure if it would be for me – turns out it was ABSOLUTELY for me. Although its a little simple to say Brilliance is Brilliant – that really is entirely the truth.

For a start it is an absolute thrill ride start to finish, with incredibly impactful action scenes that really get the blood up interspersed with quieter focus on the backstory and the mythology the author is creating – its a perfect mix really and as such is
Diane S ☔
Jul 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Not only is this an original concept but it is also a timely one. In the US, we have had the Snowden scandal, and many of us learned, though some of us had already suspected, that our government had been bugging its own citizens. Of course they claim it is for our own safety and that many terrorist attacks have been averted because of this program. Well what one thinks of that is neither here nor there, in this book Cooper finds himself working for a government agency that is charged with just s ...more
Aug 07, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Gee, a book about a small minority of people tapped with extraordinary abilities who are feared and oppressed by ordinary society and must choose to use their abilities for good or evil? That's not just X-Men... it was also done by Heroes, The 4400, and Alphas in the past 5 years alone. And now it's done again in Brilliance.

The only real difference in Brilliance is that the "abnormals" are greater in number (1% of the population) and, individually, less of a real threat to society. They can't sh
Michael Slavin
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very, very good!! Think crime/action thriller with a little scifi.
3,500 Amazon reviews.

The scifi part is that 1 % of the population since 1982 (story takes place in 2013) are born with exceptional gifts (adnorms). Nobody has superhuman powers or can fly, but they are brilliant in their areas, math science, programing, human relations, etc.
This is creating big problems.

The hero, a government agent with a license to kill terrorist abnorns, is an abnorm and his ability is to perceive patterns lik
Apr 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: thriller
Excellent futuristic thriller, 4.5 stars? 1% of the population are abnormally brilliant, causing fear among the rest of the populace, especially the renegades. The sensational slaughter of a U.S. senator and all of the rest of a Washington DC restaurants provides the impetus for massive funding of the DAR, an anti-terrorism governmental agency with extraordinary first strike powers. Nick Cooper is a superstar agent, seeking the terrorist John Smith. After an unsuccessful attempt to stop a stock ...more
Jay Schutt
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, fiction
A decent thriller with the usual lies, deceit and drama that you would expect. This is the first in a series, ends without a cliffhanger, but I don't think that I will continue on to book #2. The story did keep me interested and excited me enough to want to continue on. A good read. ...more
Kristin  (MyBookishWays Reviews)

Nick Cooper is an agent for a group called Equitable Services, and they are tasked with eliminating terrorists. It’s a clandestine group, but other than that, sounds pretty straightforward, right? Not so much. In fact, the terrorists that Nick and his group hunts are very special. They’re called abnorms, or “brilliants”, and they make up a very small part of the population, but they can wield amazing power. It’s only been about 30 years since the discovery
Jul 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read a couple of Marcus Sakey's books before, and they've all been page-turners (especially The Blade Itself (not to be confused with the Joe Abercrombie book of the same name)), and this one certainly was as well. The man knows how to tell a story. Two negative takeaways here, however. First, as I discovered at the last page, GODDAMNIT IT'S BOOK ONE OF A TRILOGY!!! I HATE reading the first book of a trilogy and then having to wait for the rest of the series (imagine my feelings re George R ...more
Chris Dietzel
Sep 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
If you can get past a couple minor issues, this is an excellent book. The first issue, as other reviewers have noted, is that if you've read an X-men comic before you've read a story with a premise very similar to this book's, which makes the quote by Lee Child on the cover exceedingly annoying. The next is that if you drank a shot every time the author wrote, "He opened his mouth, closed it," you'd be piss drunk the entire time you read it. And third, the ending is like something Hollywood woul ...more
Dec 16, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: will-not-finish

DNF for many, many reasons but the top three are:

Mr. Sakey cannot write convincing or interesting dialogue. That's not always a failing, since many authors write their way around this problem by just not including much of it. But either Sakey doesn't know that his dialogue is cliched and unconvincing or he wants it that way to ensure easy translation to the screen, because he includes a lot of it. (As others have noted, it reads more like a screenplay than a novel.) Since many readers are also p
Noah Nichols
Jan 24, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: digitally-honed
Why such a lowly rating? Simple. This novel could've—and should've—been condensed. Sakey should cut out about half of this book, and then he'd be straight. I mean, it'd still suck...but at least it wouldn't waste (as much of) somebody's precious time during the hustle and bustle of a busy bee life.

All throughout this fic, I felt nothing. Absolutely NOTHING! The apoplectic apathy is real. So, in my eyes, Brilliance lacks intelligence. And it's yet another lengthy book to throw out the digital do
Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: tbr-clean-2019
Well I blew through that one. Sort of a mini-X men thriller. Nothing too deep about this, the "how do normals and brilliants coexist" theme is familiar. The MC uncertain about his loyalties and who he works for was transparent but done in a way that as a reader I kept rooting for him to wake up to. Much of this story was telegraphed and easily guessed but I liked it anyway, I liked the way Cooper treated women, I liked his feelings for his ex-wife and his new paramour. I liked the thoughts he h ...more
Jan 07, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
I begrudgingly read (listened to audio version) this book, but I'm glad I did. It was a solid "3" read which ain't that bad. It would have been higher but I took off for originality or the lack thereof. If your familiar with the story of the x-men or have a dozen other franchises (the more recent being Steelhearth by Brandon Sanderson) then you pick right up on the plot. Sure there are some differences, but the broad strokes are the same.

So why did I give it a 3? The suspense really did build, e
J.F. Penn
Jul 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, thrillers
Amazing book - absolutely "brilliant" :)
A kind of X-Men world where a small percentage of the population are super-gifted and the 'normals' want to start a war. Classic 'other' story but with a technothriller twist. Looking forward to the next in the series.
Sherwood Smith
Dec 23, 2015 added it
Shelves: sf, thriller
Copy provided by NetGalley

Wow. I simply inhaled this sfnal thriller. The basic setup involves one of my favorite sf tropes, the next gen of humans, with gifts. Called abnorms, twists, brilliants, they are depicted as a danger, and the story opens with Nick Cooper (who prefers to be called by his last name) hunting one down, with license to kill. Before she dies, she tells him a war is coming, and he will have to pick sides.

Then we get to know this killer--who is a family man, devoted to his kids
Heather Brinkerhoff Burdsal
Apr 13, 2015 rated it did not like it
Booooo! Slime! Filth! Muck! Rubbish! Boo! Boooo! Boooooooo!

I made it probably 80% of the way through this book before it came to a screeching halt.

The First 80%:
Let's start by establishing that one sign of a terrible writer is that the book's characters seem like only a thin veil over the author's own personality. I didn't feel like I was reading a book, but rather seeing a weird look at the author's private thoughts. So now I know that Marcus Sakey has some serious incest pedophilia fantasies a
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Marcus Sakey is the bestselling author of nine novels, including the Brilliance Trilogy, which has sold more than a million copies.

His novel AFTERLIFE (July 18, 2017) is soon to be a major motion picture from Imagine Entertainment and producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer. His novel Good People was made into a film starring James Franco and Kate Hudson.

Marcus lives in Chicago with his wife and dau

Other books in the series

Brilliance Saga (3 books)
  • A Better World (Brilliance Saga, #2)
  • Written in Fire (Brilliance Saga, #3)

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