Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book
Rate this book

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.

A 2013 Edgar Award Nominee

“The kind of story you’ve never read before.” —Lee Child, New York Times bestselling author of the Jack Reacher Series

“Ridiculously good. I love this story so much.” —Gillian Flynn, New York Times bestselling author of Gone Girl

Nominated for the Edgar, Lovey, Sideways, and Prometheus awards.

454 pages, Edición Kindle

First published July 16, 2013

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Marcus Sakey

32 books1,350 followers
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 daughter.

Review Quotes

"Ridiculously good...Sakey makes you grin at high-flying feats of imagination, and then grin harder because he sticks the landing. The master of the mindful page turner."
-Gillian Flynn

"Nothing short of brilliant."
-Chicago Tribune

"It's depth and intelligence and passion and emotion that set Sakey apart."
-Lee Child

"Sakey reminds me why I keep reading."
-Cleveland Plain-Dealer

"One of our best storytellers."
-Michael Connelly

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
9,911 (31%)
4 stars
13,575 (42%)
3 stars
6,419 (20%)
2 stars
1,372 (4%)
1 star
505 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,448 reviews
Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
793 reviews3,607 followers
September 21, 2020
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 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 more focused on worldbuilding, it has a style and taste of its own and it opened one more question. 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 more 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 genius.

I like plot focused technothrillers with hard cuts, cliffhangers, and many open questions 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 quality 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 mysterious.

The 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 more about when you saw what in which series instead of enjoying the new adaption.

A wiki walk can be as refreshing to the mind as a walk through nature in this completely overrated real life outside books:
Profile Image for Maggie Stiefvater.
Author 82 books167k followers
October 22, 2013
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 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, dammit.

Well, 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 along.

It 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 reads.

What 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 READER.

Farewell. I'm glad to hear that you've gone off and ordered this. The cover's cool, too. In person it is all tactile.
July 13, 2013
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 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 U.S. 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 more 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).
Profile Image for Regan.
366 reviews109k followers
December 30, 2014
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.
Profile Image for Andrew Smith.
1,051 reviews578 followers
July 26, 2021
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 Sakey.

In 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 quick 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’s).

We 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 thriller.

As well as an ability to entertain – and it does entertain – the book poses some interesting philosophical and moral questions. 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 quo, 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 Israel.

My 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!
Profile Image for James Thane.
Author 9 books6,915 followers
April 3, 2014
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 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 others.

Inevitably 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. Consequently 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 population.

Accordingly, 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 anyone.

As the Brilliants began to dominate more and more 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 more violent action in support of their rights.

For 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, D.C. restaurant, assassinating a U.S. Senator and mercilessly gunning down 73 other men, women and children.

Surveillance 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 Normals.

Inevitably, many Brilliants felt threatened by these actions and acted to protect their rights as American citizens. A special unit of the DAR, the Equitable 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 consequence.

One 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 Equitable Response Unit would be to kill John Smith, the mastermind of the attack in Washington.

After 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 them.

Nick 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 questions about the way in which a democratic society reacts to a perceived threat. The book should appeal to large numbers of readers.
Profile Image for Barbara.
1,343 reviews4,864 followers
February 28, 2022

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 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 country.

To 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 requires all abnorms to have a 'chip' inserted close to the carotid artery - so they can be tracked at all times. (Shades of Nazi Germany!)

Some 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 bombings.

To 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 extremists.

Nick 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 happen.

After 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 acquire 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 Academy.

In 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 away.

The 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 unique because their abilities are generally associated with mental superiority rather than the ability to fly, become invisible, shoot lightning out of their fingers, etc.

There'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 more. Some characters are good guys, some not.....and it's not always obvious who's who. In fact Nick comes off as quite a hypocrite, wanting his daughter to be treated differently than other abnorms.

I enjoyed the book, which held my interest and led to a compelling climax. Recommended for science fiction fans.

You can follow my reviews at http://reviewsbybarbsaffer.blogspot.com/
Profile Image for Montzalee Wittmann.
4,559 reviews2,312 followers
September 4, 2017
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't....A wonderful game of cat and mouse with lots of twists and turns. I love this kind of story!
Profile Image for Nick.
482 reviews18 followers
September 9, 2019
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 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 strategist.

On 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 Bay.


UPDATE 9/92019

As of this morning, the A.V. 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.
Profile Image for mark monday.
1,643 reviews5,092 followers
July 14, 2018
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 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 sequel.

although many have noted that the shadow of 9/11 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 more of a rallying cry, rather than an irritating cautionary tale.

scattered 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.
Profile Image for Tim The Enchanter.
350 reviews177 followers
August 10, 2015
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 are regular human beings who display savant abilities. All of the "superhuman" abilities displayed by this portion of the population are (so far) related to superior pattern recognition. Our main character, Nick Cooper can read the physical cues of any person with such detail and precision that he is able to anticipate their physical movements and their emotions and reaction. Others have abilities that allow them to remain unseen by always moving to a positions you cannot see. There are skills that have allowed amazing breakthroughs in medicine, engineering, sports and entertainment. Nick works for the DAR (the Department of Analysis and Response NOT the Daughters of the American Revolution) and it is his job to locate and at times, eliminate, other Brilliant persons who have committed crimes. When a major terrorist attack takes place in the city Nick finds himself hot on the trail of John Smith, a notorious "Brilliant" terrorist. As he finds himself tracking the most reviled "Brilliants" in America, he is forced to question who he is and whom he can trust.

My Take

Sakey has written a highly enjoyable and easy to read "superhero" science fiction. Because of the plot and setup, it drawn comparison to the X-Men and other such superhero fare. While there are similarities, each of the superhuman powers is related to superior pattern recognition. No one can fly or move objects with their minds but rather use their ability to excel in all areas of society. The abilities of the Brilliants is the most unique aspect of the book. Each of the abilities were quite varied and it was interesting to see how each was used.

Not all aspects of the book were this unique. The basic plotline is well trodden ground. People with special abilities and the governments who are afraid of them, etc. etc. If this was the whole of the plot, the book would have felt old and repetitive. What set this plotline apart was the take on terrorism. It is timely in that explores the roots of terrorism, where blame should like and what can be done about it. I didn't feel as if the author was preaching or trying to indoctrinate the reader. The ultimate decision is left the reader. On a whole, this old ground was explored in an interesting and enlightening manner.

In addition to an interesting plot, I found the characters to be well rounded and well developed. Nick Cooper goes through a personal awakening and the reader is able to watch his development throughout. The other characters, though not as developed, are interesting and entertaining.

Note on the Audiobook

My final rating was reduced in part due to the narration of Luke Daniels. While he was not terrible by any means, it was not up the standard I expect from great narrations. He was really quite bad at voicing women and at times the audiobook seemed to have male characters and female puppet characters. Additionally, some elements of the book did not lend itself well to narration. From time to time, Nicks mind would race as he processing the patterns and his train of thought would abruptly end and action would occur. This was very jarring in audio and from time to time would leave me confused as to what happened. By no means is this a terrible audiobook but may be even better when read. Regardless, I plan on reading the next book in the audio format.

Final Thoughts

Overall, a very entertaining read. While not award winning fiction, you will certainly enjoy the trip. If you enjoy superhuman abilities without a supernatural twist, you should enjoy reading this one. I would also venture to say that fans of Larry Correia would enjoy this as it does explore some libertarian ideas and explores the meanings of freedom. On that note, these ideas are not nearly as aggressive and "in your face" as in one of Correia's novels.

Profile Image for Rachel the Book Harlot.
175 reviews45 followers
February 9, 2016
"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 character, is great. He's the perfect action hero: the guy who is not afraid to get his hands dirty and do what needs to be done, but still human and vulnerable enough that his behavior is not over the top. He's very easy to root for and to empathize with. There were only one or two testosterone filled moments where Cooper's love of fast cars caused an eye roll because it didn't feel organic. It felt more like an added element solely there to further solidify Cooper's action-dude status. Thankfully, these moments were few and far between.

The story itself is very well done. Even though it's fast-paced, the author does a great job of slowing down enough to let the story unfold naturally, letting us get to know Cooper and his world. His world is essentially an alternate reality of our own, where situations like the attack on the World Trade Center never happened, and science is a bit more advanced. However, it still mirrors our reality with the age-old theme of humanity's tendency to "other" and fear what is different, as well the manifestations of that fear.

The action scenes are great. They are vivid and thrilling. There were only two scenes I had trouble with: one stretched the bounds of my suspension of disbelief, probably because the scene it depicted felt like it would play out better on screen than it did on paper, and the other felt contrived,

As to whether or not Brilliance ends in a cliffhanger, check out the spoiler:

Brilliance by Marcus Sakey definitely did not disappoint. Highly recommended for fans of sci fi thrillers and action films.

Final Rating: 5 stars

Note: Brilliance is Book 1 of the Brilliance Saga trilogy. The trilogy is complete, and all three books have been released.
Profile Image for seak.
429 reviews473 followers
June 7, 2016
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 human.

Take our protagonist, Nick Cooper, called "Cooper," who can read patterns so well he can even track fellow brilliants (the name of these gifted people) knowing nothing other than their movements to escape him. He can read lies, he can even read thoughts spelled out as plainly as if spoken.

There are others, one in particular who have devastated the country because they can read the stock market. One in particular, John Smith, strolled into a diner and murdered everyone in it and Cooper wants nothing more than to see justice.

One of the reasons I say this book is realistic for its subject matter is because Cooper actually belongs to a government group that tracks down his own kind. He believes because he's trying to keep the country together. His kind have shown their powers of destruction, but it's brilliant (get it) because is he right? Is this the way to achieve those goals?

I thought this was a great concept that was also extremely well put together. That's often hard to do and often you get one without the other. I know he earns his pay, but I hope some day it grows larger at least as far as my calculations go.

4 out of 5 Stars (highly recommended)
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,484 reviews29.4k followers
August 4, 2013
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 tremendous promise and threat to the country and the world.

In the years following the emergence of the brilliants, society is uneasy. They know they should embrace these special gifts, yet how would "regular" people fare when matched against the brilliants in every aspect of life? So those who test into the top tier of these abilities are taken from their families and sent to special "academies," where their skills are harnessed—and they're taught not to trust anyone but themselves.

Flash forward to the present, and a special branch of the U.S. government, the Department of Equitable Services, has been empowered to hunt down the brilliants, or "abnorms," as they're referred to insultingly. After one brilliant brought down the stock market after sensing patterns and making hundreds of millions of dollars, and one took action against society by masterminding a massacre of innocent people in a D.C. restaurant, the country is on edge. Many brilliants have moved to an enormous compound in Wyoming, called the New Canaan Holdfast, where they can live amongst themselves in security, and continue making advances in all fields.

One elite member of the Department of Equitable Services is Agent Nick Cooper. He is ruthless, intelligent, driven, and a brilliant himself, drawn to the department to create a safer world. Yet when he finds himself unable to prevent a major catastrophe, and he realizes his own children are in more danger than he can imagine, he needs to find a way to track down the mastermind behind the brilliants' vengeance—no matter what the cost.

This is an absolutely phenomenal book in so many ways. Marcus Sakey has created a society both vastly different and eerily similar to our own, and the country's unease about the brilliants mirrors so many other issues in our world, both past and present. Sakey's characters are complex, conflicted, and compelling, and the action and suspense nearly made my Kindle crackle. I wasn't sure where the plot would take me, but I was constantly amazed at the amount of thought he put into even the smallest details. (The book is interspersed with fake ads, news stories, and other minutiae that made me laugh and even made me slightly uncomfortable.)

I've read Sakey's previous books and have been impressed by his writing ability, but nothing prepared me for the sheer, well, brilliance of Brilliance. This book is apparently the first in a series and I absolutely cannot wait for the next book to be released next year. If you like action-packed thrillers, or just fantastic page-turners, do yourself a favor and pick this one up. Like me, you won't be able to tear yourself away from it.
Profile Image for Liz Barnsley.
3,430 reviews990 followers
December 9, 2015
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 the most addictive novel I have read in months.

The “Brilliants” or twists as they can be known are a really fantastic creation – because they could so easily be real, it gives the story an absolutely realistic feel, a basis in possibility that keeps the whole thing grounded. You can really get into it and wonder at the thought which makes it even more of an enjoyable read. They can’t do magic, they just see things differently, interpret differently, have expanded intelligence, therefore ARE different. I found the many facets of that completely fascinating and the different elements are seamlessy interwoven into the narrrative.

And Nick Cooper is a really well imagined and easy to love “anti” hero – a man who kills, a man who hunts but who you totally believe in so when his world is shattered you are right there with him. There are themes of intolerance and discrimination in the story, the character is used to perfection to highlight this – the rather nasty side of human nature that is suspicious of those different from “us” – so there is lots to think about as well. As Nick goes from hunter to hunted to something else entirely, it is completely compelling and so so soooooooo much of a page turner.

Simply excellent. I have book 2 lined up on my kindle, sadly it will have to wait a short while but I WILL be reading it in plenty of time for Book 3 due in January. I can’t wait. I’m a fan. And this HAS to be a movie surely? The Girl Who Walks Through Walls could carry that film all by herself and this novel is peppered with such characters. Mucho fun. Highly Recommended.

Happy Reading Folks!
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,733 reviews14.1k followers
August 7, 2013
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 such a task. Doing anything to keep the public safe, only safe for whom?

This is a suspenseful book, it really kept me turning the pages, wanting to find out how it was going to end. The Brilliants, are children born with unusual abilities. While there have always been savants, geniuses, now many more are being born than ever before. As usual, because it isn't understood, it is feared.

This book does make one think. When is it okay to bug your own citizens?
How does one know when they are being told the truth. Most of all, what can we do as regular people when we don't agree with what is happening?

Apparently this is the first of a series, since it did say end of book one. Sakey is a very good writer, his books are fast paced and interesting, Cooper was a well rounded character. Very good story. Look forward to the next installment.
Profile Image for Ben.
1,005 reviews22 followers
August 7, 2013
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 shoot laser beams or control the weather. They're just much smarter, or faster, or stronger, or perceptive, or business-savvy, etc., than everyone else. Which means that society at large fears not that the abnormals will physically take over, but rather that a few generations down the road, they will have taken over through the free market and social Darwinism.

That's somewhat interesting, and it may make good fodder for the series that this book sets up, but Brilliance doesn't bode very well for the series. The book eschews character development for a threadbare thriller plot that we've seen a dozen times on late-night-cable. Not enough to keep me riveted for book 2. Not exactly brilliant.
Profile Image for Michael Slavin.
Author 6 books227 followers
March 9, 2020
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 like people’s physical intentions before they do anything. Imagine no one can hit you because you always see where the punch is coming from.

Few facts about the book:
Book takes place in: Chicago, Wyoming, New York, and DC
Strong male and female characters
The Wyoming location is a new city for abnorms, pretty interesting.

Of course, there are some good twists and turns. Good book! First of a series.

Mike Slavin
Author of award-winning thriller Kill Crime
Profile Image for Skip.
3,288 reviews395 followers
April 30, 2016
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 exchange bombing, he goes undercover as a rogue agent to kill Smith with the entire DAR agency on his trail. But, all is not as it seems as Nick learns piecemeal from Shannon (a/k/a the Woman Who Walks through Walls) and others. Fast-paced fun.
Profile Image for Jay Schutt.
250 reviews82 followers
October 22, 2018
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.
March 5, 2018
Книгата не успя да ме спечели. Много съжалявам, защото историята звучеше изключително интересно и с огромно желание започнах да чета романа. Не се получи обаче. Твърде много ми дойде цялата драма, а и сюжета беше доста изтъркан, ако трябва да съм честен. Разочаровах се, защото не попаднах на едно лошо ревю за книгата в българското книжно общество, но аз ще се изкажа отрицателно.
За мен книгата си остава с една страхотна идея, стилът на автора също има потенциал, но ако доста от книгата се ореже. Имаше прекалено огромни описания, които само ми забавяха действието. Страхотен замисъл с лоша реализация. Ако се беше избегнал целия "Хорейшио" ефект, можеше и да ми хареса.
Не съм сигурен дали бих искал да прочета останалите книги от поредицата, защото тази не беше моят роман.
Profile Image for Kristin  (MyBookishWays Reviews).
601 reviews204 followers
June 2, 2014

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 of the first abnorms; people with very special abilities. These abilities aren’t supernatural, but they are quite amazing and they’re measured in tiers. Tier 1 abnorms are the sharpest of the sharp, and so on…you get the idea. Nick Cooper happens to actually one, and his ability includes being able to read what people will do next, in the smallest twitch of a muscle or most subtle of glances. Even though he hunts others like him, he truly believes that he’s only hunting the most dangerous of abnorms, those that aren’t above killing innocent people, and he’s dedicated to this task. His ultimate quarry, however, is an activist that calls himself John Smith. He was a respected voice among the abnorms until he massacred over 70 innocents in a restaurant, and now he’s the “gas men’s” ultimate target. After Cooper is unable to stop a bombing of the new Stock Exchange, one that kills over 1,000 people, he seems it as a unique opportunity to go after John Smith, but this mission will test Cooper like he’s never been tested before, and alter everything he’s ever believed in.

Brilliance takes place in present day, but it’s an alternate version of America, one in which 9/11 never happened, we never went to war with the Middle East, and one in which our space program is still going strong. These aren’t the only differences, but that gives you a good idea of the environment, all ostensibly because of the brilliants and what they’ve given to us in the way of technological advances. The 2013 of this book is a great deal more advanced than our 2013 was, to say the least. However, there’s tension growing between abnorms and regular people. Some normal people are afraid that if abnorms are allowed free reign, that they will soon greatly surpass them to the point that normals will become slaves. That’s the extreme. There are those that are wary of abnorms, but not to that extent. Then there are, of course, the abnorms, who want just to be treated equally, and there are those that won’t hesitate to use their heightened abilities for evil. You know, pretty much the normal human gamut, it’s just that some people have a much more distinct advantage over others. Domestic terrorism has become a common occurance, and the country is on edge. This is the environment in which Cooper and the Equitable Services must work. However, when he goes on the hunt for John Smith, he starts to realize that things may not be quite what he thought, and when his family is threatened, including his very special young daughter, he must decide what side he’s on, and that decision is hard then you might think.

Brilliance is a very brainy thriller, and it moves at breakneck speed. If you enjoy books about shadowy government organizations, full of spycraft, chases, and the like, then you’ll love it. But it’s more than that. It’s a book of ideas, and the struggle between the norms and abnorms will resonate, and parallels the struggle against racism and extremism (of any sort) in this country. So, it’s also very timely. In Brilliance, the government has decided that microchipping the brilliants is actually a good way to go, to keep track of them. Yep, throwing a microchip in next to their carotid so they can’t easily remove it. In fact, the author likens this to Jews in Nazi Germany having to wear the Star of David. Pretty scary, huh?

Brilliance has been nominated for a ton of awards, including the Edgar, and that’s for good reason. It’s a cracking good read, and Cooper is a hero to root for. His journey is more emotional and harrowing then you might think, considering the lightning-fast pace, and against the background of brewing revolution, it makes for a riveting read. This one is unputdownable, and not to be missed.
Profile Image for George K..
2,363 reviews290 followers
July 19, 2016
Όταν πριν κάποιους μήνες έμαθα ότι θα κυκλοφορούσε το συγκεκριμένο βιβλίο στα ελληνικά, ξετρελάθηκα. Κάτι τέτοια ωραία θρίλερ -επιστημονικής φαντασίας ή μη- βγαίνουν με την σέσουλα στο εξωτερικό κάθε χρόνο και εδώ στην Ελλάδα κάνουμε αμάν να δούμε ελάχιστα από αυτά στην γλώσσα μας. Και είναι βιβλία που προσωπικά με γοητεύουν, με τραβάνε, γι'αυτό και θέλω να μεταφράζονται όσο περισσότερα γίνεται. Λοιπόν, το βιβλίο του Σέικι, είναι το πρώτο μιας τριλογίας, και έχει μια πολύ ωραία, ενδιαφέρουσα και συναρπαστική ιστορία να πει.

Ας πούμε ότι βρισκόμαστε σ'ένα παράλληλο σύμπαν, μια παράλληλη Αμερική. Από το 1980 και μετά και κάθε χρόνο, γεννιούνται λίγοι άνθρωποι, με πάρα πολύ ειδικές ικανότητες. Μιλάμε για πραγματικές διάνοιες. Λέγονται Χαρισματικοί ή και Αφύσικοι. Αρχικά γίνονται δεκτοί με ενθουσιασμό, οι ικανότητές τους είναι χρήσιμες σε πολλούς τομείς της τεχνολογίας, της ιατρικής, της οικονομίας κλπ. Όμως μετά αρχίζουν να αντιμετωπίζονται με ανησυχία από τους κανονικούς ανθρώπους. Οι ίδιοι περιθωριοποιούνται. Μερικοί εκμεταλλεύονται προς όφελός τους τις δυνάμεις που έχουν. Άλλοι γίνονται "τρομοκράτες". Ένας από αυτούς είναι και ο Τζον Σμιθ. Υπηρεσίες δημιουργούνται για την καταπολέμηση και τον έλεγχο τους. Σε μια τέτοια υπηρεσία, που είναι υπεράνω όλων, εργάζεται ως πράκτορας και εκτελεστής ο Νικ Κούπερ. Είναι και αυτός Χαρισματικός. Και κυνηγάει με μανία τον αινιγματικό τρομοκράτη Τζον Σμιθ. Όμως πολλά πράγματα δεν είναι έτσι όπως φαίνονται...

Νομίζω ότι με την παραπάνω περίληψη έδωσα μια κατατοπιστική εικόνα για την κοσμοπλασία του βιβλίου, χωρίς να μαρτυρήσω τις κάμποσες και ενδιαφέρουσες εκπλήξεις της πλοκής. Λοιπόν, ο Σέικι δημιούργησε έναν αρκετά ιντριγκαδόρικο και ρεαλιστικό κόσμο, που προσωπικά με έπεισε σε πολύ μεγάλο βαθμό με την αληθοφάνεια του. Ταξίδεψα σ'αυτή την παράλληλη Γη, έγινα ένα με την περιπέτεια του πρωταγωνιστή της ιστορίας. Η δράση είναι χορταστική και ρεαλιστικά δοσμένη, δίχως (πάρα) πολλές υπερβολές, οι εκπλήξεις και οι ανατροπές σε διάφορα σημεία της πλοκής ενδιαφέρουσες (αν και μερικές ίσως όχι τόσο πρωτότυπες, με τόσα βιβλία που έχω διαβάσει και τόσες ταινίες που έχω δει), η ένταση βαράει κόκκινο και η ατμόσφαιρα είναι σίγουρα αγωνιώδης.

Τα καλά νέα, όμως, νομίζω ότι δεν σταματούν εδώ. Η γραφή μου άρεσε πραγματικά πάρα πολύ. Την βρήκα εξαιρετικά και απίστευτα εθιστική, περισσότερο ακόμα και από βιβλίο του Στίβεν Κινγκ! Εντάξει, που λέει ο λόγος. Σίγουρα δεν μιλάμε για... Ντοστογιέφσκι ή Χέμινγουεϊ, αλλά, δεν ξέρω, ο τρόπος που ο Σέικι περιέγραφε τα διάφορα σκηνικά, τα τοπία και τις σκηνές δράσης, μου φάνηκε εξαιρετικός. Και, πως να το πω, έτσι όπως είναι γραμμένο το βιβλίο, μπορεί πολύ εύκολα να γίνει ταινία. Υπάρχει βάθος στην κοσμοπλασία και τις περιγραφές, παράλληλα όμως είναι ιδιαίτερα... προσβάσιμο σ'έναν καλό σεναριογράφο που θα θέλει να γράψει το σενάριο της ταινίας.

Αυτά τα ολίγα. Το βιβλίο μου κέντρισε το ενδιαφέρον από την στιγμή που κυκλοφόρησε στο εξωτερικό και με το πέρασμα των μηνών και των χρόνων ήλπιζα να το δω και να το διαβάσω στα ελληνικά. Οι εκδόσεις Πόλις μου "έκαναν" το χατίρι, και με την πολύ προσεγμένη μετάφραση και την καλαίσθητη έκδοση, μου πρόσφεραν ένα πραγματικά εθιστικό, συναρπαστικό και χορταστικό θρίλερ επιστημονικής φαντασίας. Ελπίζω μόνο να δούμε στο μέλλον μεταφρασμένα και τα άλλα δυο βιβλία της τριλογίας, γιατί ναι μεν υπάρχει μια κατάληξη στο πρώτο αυτό βιβλίο, αλλά κάποια πράγματα μένουν μετέωρα. Και, όπως και να'χει, φαίνονται εξίσου ενδιαφέροντα και συναρπαστικά.
Profile Image for Chip.
804 reviews39 followers
July 21, 2013
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 RR Martin at this point ...). That said, I guess happiness that there are two more (at least) coming does outweigh my surprise and anger at being blindsided re that fact. And Sakey does do a good job of making the book succeed as a standalone story. Second, I thought that there were a few plotholes / unrealisticies (not a word, but it should be) that Sakey simply steamrolls past. (E.g. ) That said, he did at least attempt to address some of them (e.g., , and as long as one doesn't stop to think, well, the story certainly does fly along - and for that reason stuck with four stars rather than downgrading to three.
Profile Image for Chris Dietzel.
Author 27 books401 followers
September 23, 2015
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 would love, which is to say predictable and much too neat and happy-feeling. After having said all of that, however, I would still recommend this book. It was fun, moved at a great pace, and Sakey did a great job of keeping the plot interesting.
Profile Image for Dan.
42 reviews
December 16, 2013

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 people who interact every day with others, often through the medium of human speech, and are thus intimately familiar with how actual conversations are conducted, this could be a significant stumbling block to one's enjoyment of the book.

The premise was (to me) completely unbelievable. Functional savants ("abnorms," c'mon Sakey, could you have picked a term with less euphony and pizazz? Real slang always has more brio.) wreck the social order and become an oppressed minority. The government is so worried about their influence that the most powerful of them are taken from their parents as children and raised in special foster homes where they are conditioned to hate their own kind and be loyal to the state. Savants who operate outside this system are legally assassinated by a new department of the US government (DAR, Department of Analysis and Response. Again, so boring! Even the Department of the Interior has a more descriptive name than that. I started reading it as Daughters of the American Revolution and imagining the secretary showing up to cabinet meetings in a hoop skirt). I think an interesting case could be made that this is *already* how the capitalist system, as expressed in the United States, operates. Why fix what ain't broke?

Sakey knows a lot less about a lot of things than most readers. A partial list of topics that Sakey displays no understanding of whatsoever, as judged by his complete inability to treat them in an interesting or semi-believable way: law enforcement, economics, neuroscience, politics, genetics, terrorism, the surveillance state, computer science/programming, bigotry, friendship, marriage, hand to hand combat, wit, love, spite, pettiness, ambition, loyalty. And that's just in the first 150 pages.
Profile Image for Sherwood Smith.
Author 167 books37.5k followers
December 25, 2015
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, and fond of his ex-wife though they have divorced (when we find out why, we know enough about him for it to make perfect sense). Sakey does a superb job of depicting this family man. Natalie, Todd, and Kate are not mere redshirts, so saccharinely perfect (before being cruelly offed, launching him on a destructive trail of vengeance, the way so many of these tales go)--they have personalities.

Cooper is on a mission not to avenge his family, but to make the world safe for his kids to grow up. And so far he thinks that he, an abnorm, hunting abnorm terrorists, is the way to do it. But when he is launched on the biggest hunt of his life, everything he thought he knew slowly begins to unravel.

The twists and turns of the plot kept me up late reading. Sakey takes time to give subordinate characters personalities and their own ambitions and motivations. The pacing is brisk, the military action vivid and believable, the stakes high. There are also bits of mass entertainment worked in between chapters, some of which will raise a smile, like the best seller that depicts all the problems the world would have suffered if there were no abnorms . . . and the horrifying back cover marketing bulletpoints hit all the problems facing us now.

But the creepiest bit of all? Were the state-mandated schools for the abnorms . . .

I only guessed one of the plot twists. The others took me by surprise, then made absolute sense, and jacked up the stakes satisfyingly. The book is so cinematic, I fully expect to see it as Season One of a hit show. The screenplays would write themselves.

Extra bonus points for interesting women characters, and when there is sex, it has meaning for the characters, rather than male-gaze antler dancing. In fact, there was a lot of awareness of male gamesmanship that had me laughing out loud at points, before the tension line rocketed skyward.

Looking forward to book two.
Profile Image for Noah Nichols.
Author 3 books112 followers
January 25, 2018
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 door—right on my yawn lawn.
Profile Image for Hank.
793 reviews73 followers
March 11, 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 had about what other characters were feeling. I liked Cooper and his raison d'etre which is most of the battle.
There are obviously some weak points, first of which is, as you can already probably tell, none of it is new or even a new take on the familiar. The other one was the unimaginative breadth of brilliant traits. Possibly that leads to a bit more realism but all the brilliants revolve around one central idea, the brilliants all process data faster and better than the normals. Maybe that is by design and I get to know the plan later in the trilogy but it seems like there could be some other equally interesting brilliants to add to the story.

Long review for a book that is/was great fun escapist reading that I really enjoyed. Next book already started.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,448 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.