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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Improves On Part 1
My review of 'Brilliance', part 1 of Marcus Sakey's Brilliance series, described it as 'original' but also 'predictably plotted'. The alternative reality the author had created was both believable and fresh (I'd dismiss the comparisons with X-Men; Sakey's Brilliants are not mutants and are not superhuman in the traditional comic book sense. There are no psychics or...
Published 3 months ago by C. Green

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The unremarkable rise of the mutant nation
Imagine a world of mostly mundanes, and a minority of talented mutants. Set them into conflict with each other. Have the 'good' mutants try to integrate themselves into a society which regards them with suspicion. Have the 'bad' mutants start a new civil war so that they can take their rightful place as the leaders of the new world, a superior race.
That’s...
Published 4 months ago by Rowena Hoseason


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Improves On Part 1, 25 Jun 2014
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C. Green "happily low brow" (Quenington, Glos, UK) - See all my reviews
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My review of 'Brilliance', part 1 of Marcus Sakey's Brilliance series, described it as 'original' but also 'predictably plotted'. The alternative reality the author had created was both believable and fresh (I'd dismiss the comparisons with X-Men; Sakey's Brilliants are not mutants and are not superhuman in the traditional comic book sense. There are no psychics or telekinetics on display here). However, the book was let down by a plot that felt derivative and pedestrian.

There was enough promise though, to make me pick up part 2 to see where Sakey took the wider story next and whether he managed to iron out the kinks present in part 1. The answer to the first question is that he takes the story somewhere I really hadn't seen it going and the answer to the second is yes, plot & predictability-wise this is a great improvement on its predecessor.

Like most opening chapters in an ongoing series, Brilliance had relied on a relatively straight forward, narrow, linear plot to establish the world in which it was set; in its particular case the all-too-familiar 'cop goes undercover to catch bad-guys and discovers hidden conspiracy' trope. In this respect it wasn't too different to the likes of Star Wars: A New Hope (a simple rescue the princess from the dark fortress plot) or The Hunger Games (basically 'girl must compete in fight to the death').

As with both the Star Wars and Hunger Games series, with the world successfully established in part 1 and the readership invested in the setting and characters, 'A Better World' allows Sakey the opportunities to broaden that world and offer up a more complex plot. They are ones that he takes.

The result is a story that has far more moving elements to it than 'Brilliance' did, and is therefore less predictable (although one 'twist' is again so blindingly obvious that you wonder why Sakey bothered to include it) and far more interesting. It is also a great deal less self-contained, with multiple sub-plots left unresolved at the conclusion. This might dissatisfy some readers but in my opinion made the story all the more appealing, as there was no awkward struggle of trying to tie everything up in a neat bow in time for the final page.

Not that there isn't satisfying catharsis on offer in 'A Better World'. Sakey does remember to throw readers some bones in the form of 'wins' for the ostensible good-guys. However, he does so whilst simultaneously shaking up the whole world and leaving you wanting to know where the story will go next.

For that reason alone 'A Better World' has to be considered a successful second volume in the 'Brilliance Saga', but it is also offers much more than just a launch pad for part 3. I can highly recommend it

(Note: Despite my less criticism of Part 1, I would recommend reading it before tackling A Better World. It provides vital back story and establishes the characters who feature in Part 2. Its also pretty enjoyable, in spite of its predictability.)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The unremarkable rise of the mutant nation, 18 Jun 2014
By 
Rowena Hoseason "Hooligween" (Kernow, Great Britain) - See all my reviews
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Imagine a world of mostly mundanes, and a minority of talented mutants. Set them into conflict with each other. Have the 'good' mutants try to integrate themselves into a society which regards them with suspicion. Have the 'bad' mutants start a new civil war so that they can take their rightful place as the leaders of the new world, a superior race.
That’s pretty much the backdrop to A Better World… and it feels an awful lot like X-men to me, too.

This is the second book in a series, and maybe I would’ve engaged with it better if I’d started with the first. However it wasn’t too tricky to catch up with the general plot – there’s a sizeable chunk of recap in the opening chapters – and the conflicting factions and their representative characters soon take shape.
The best parts are undoubtedly those where the Brilliants – the new breed who all have different talents, ranging from Tier One uberhumans to almost-normal lower Tiers – flex their talents. The best of the Brilliants is the bad guy who functions at super-speed or, rather, he perceives normal time at a snail’s pace. This gives him huge advantages in action against even other Brilliants, but means he’s numbingingly handicapped in every other aspect of life. He’s one of the few character in the book I would have liked to spend more time with. (There's more thoughts on the plot and characters at MurderMayhemandMore.net)
So A Better World does include some fascinating, original concepts which I’d have enjoyed exploring at the author’s leisure. However, the plot which serves them is considerably less fulfilling, and the sequences where ‘an ordinary guy’ comes to terms with martial law and the collapse of society are pretty humdrum, more ‘so what?’ than ‘what if?’. Ditto the pasty POTUS and the evil manipulating Chief-of-Staff intent on war-war-war: it’s just all been done before. If the writing had been razor sharp then that could have made up for the meandering plot… but it kinda trudged along through the middle third.

The relationships between the Brilliant characters and the threat of the seriously bad dude were enough to keep my interest engaged to the end. However, A Better World didn’t inspire me to seek out the book which preceded it, nor to look out for the follow-up.
7/10
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!, 27 July 2014
By 
Cathy "Audiobook junkie!" (Ilminster, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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The second book in the Brilliance saga picks up shortly after the conclusion of the first, throwing the reader/listener straight into the ongoing conspiracy and opening with a chilling scenario….

Chapter one begins three weeks before that terrible incident. Tension and suspense build again gradually and consistently as we meet old and new characters. The most notable of the latter is Dr Ethan Park who, along with Abe Cousen and their team, have made an unimaginable discovery.

Nick Cooper continues to fascinate as the strong and utterly determined main protagonist, complex and extremely resourceful, and although he doubts the wisdom of his previous actions based on their outcome he is still, now more than ever, committed to sorting through the backlash, figuring out what is going on and preventing a national catastrophe.

There’s so much incredible depth and detail to this and the previous story I was glad to have the recap of events from Brilliance woven into A Better Story and in such a way that it wasn’t a straight rehash. The tension between ‘normals’ and ‘brilliants’ is escalating and a terrorist group, The Children of Darwin, are set on provoking a war. It’s quite harrowing listening to accounts of the devastation as America goes crazy and cities are taken over and their populations left without food and utilities.

The writing, gripping story telling and alternate reality world building are exceptional as are the well-developed and believable characters. I enjoyed the interspersed flashes of newscasts and ads, I especially like the personal ones, as they continue, in a fantastic way, to update the narrative. There are some unexpected, moving and breathtaking twists in what is an excellent second instalment.

At the risk of repeating myself, and I probably will do again more than once because Luke Daniels’ performances are so consistently outstanding. I’ve listened to a lot of his narrations in all sorts of genres with an equally vast array of characters and he handles each one with ease and individuality.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book 2 doesn't disappoint!, 8 July 2014
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Wow! I am so pleased I stumbled across this book one when looking for a thriller to sink my teeth into. The premise doesn't sound that original but don't let that fool you - it's utterly gripping and at the same time very thought provoking. Marcus Sakey is a brilliant writer who has crafted engaging characters and a very clever plot.
I actually read the book one and book two in three days! I just couldn't stop myself. Cannot wait until Book 3!

Book 2 takes right up where Book 1 left off and things get very dark... I won't spoil it for anyone but you won't have any nails left by the time you read the last page. Loved it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Treads a fine line between familiarity and novelty, 2 July 2014
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Hugely enjoyable sequel, continuing all of the original themes from the first novel. Treads a fine line between familiarity and novelty; a marginally post-teen X-men-alike tale with enough excitement to keep the reader interested. Very filmable - look out for Tom Cruise in next summer's blockbuster.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A better world, 27 Jun 2014
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Really enjoyed this book as much as the first and look forward to the next book in the saga. A must read well crafted a gripping tale with great characters and fast paced plot. Excellent
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hmmmm!!, 27 July 2014
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Very disappointing after the brilliant Book one. Far too much time spent reintroducing the characters and the original scenario..... the nett result a disjointed half a book to read. I don't know wether I will bother with the third in the saga as I have lost interest after this one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Better World. Shame its fiction, 27 Aug 2014
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I read the first book in this series and really enjoyed the concept [very clever]. The characters emerged in a multilevel way with some extremely clever twists.
It covered the concepts of loyalty and friendship showing that the author was speaking from experience.
This second book carries on in the same vein. I have seen it likened to "X Men", strange I see no miraculous powers over the elements only an ability to think, reason and act in a superior way.
You can really understand why the common man would object and work against this rather than embrace and take advantage of all the benefits.
But then look at who is against progress for the benefit of the masses, yes those who have climbed high on the backs of everyone else. Unfortunately commonsense is just not common.
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4.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed this book almost as much as the first, 10 Aug 2014
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I enjoyed this book almost as much as the first, but it falls at some critical areas, it still has a tendency to append up and slow down at what seems like odd periods, sometimes it's for th betterment of the plot but others it feels simply wrong, this isn't new and brilliance did the same thing, but unlike the predecessor by the time you're onto part 2 it's no longer wholly new.

The plot of this book is a little weaker than the first but as it ends on more of a cliff hanger that's to be expected overall it's a great book I would have preferred a more full ending, the ending leave US with only one way to go.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Sheer Brilliance 2·0, 28 July 2014
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The prose is so richly detailed and nuanced. Transportation into the post-millennial world of the Brilliants is so complete that I've cried (full-on nasal burning/eye welling/over-spill) in the middle of a packed tube carriage reading this. It doesn't get more evocative than that. I don't even know what the protagonist looks like (yet another nifty literary hook that I adore) But I love Cooper! Flawed, earnest and very, very 'gutsy'. Can't wait for part 3.
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A Better World (The Brilliance Saga Book 2)
A Better World (The Brilliance Saga Book 2) by Marcus Sakey (Paperback - 17 Jun 2014)
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