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83 of 91 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A decent if flawed action/conspiracy thriller
This is a decent action-thriller in many ways. It is well written and based on an interesting premise which the author uses reasonably well but I do have some quite strong reservations.

Brilliance is set in a parallel version of the present day in which a group of people born with exceptional abilities ("Brilliants") are making "normals" feel threatened and...
Published 21 months ago by Sid Nuncius

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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't know what it is
This book starts with an interesting premise about the birth of gifted, or 'abnorm' children. What differentiates this from X Men is that they have extreme human, but not superhuman, powers; to read body language, understand patterns, etc. The main protagonist is charged with tracking down those who go astray.

So far, so Blade Runner, but then the book suddenly...
Published 16 months ago by M. A. Truman


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83 of 91 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A decent if flawed action/conspiracy thriller, 14 July 2013
By 
Sid Nuncius (London) - See all my reviews
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This is a decent action-thriller in many ways. It is well written and based on an interesting premise which the author uses reasonably well but I do have some quite strong reservations.

Brilliance is set in a parallel version of the present day in which a group of people born with exceptional abilities ("Brilliants") are making "normals" feel threatened and have also created some remarkable advances in technology, among other things. It's a good, if not terribly original, idea which Marcus Sakey uses pretty well. It develops into a long, convoluted conspiracy thriller with plenty of action as the protagonist, Nick Cooper, pursues his quest as a Government agent in hunting down Brilliant terrorists. Needless to say, there are major plot twists, plenty of Not Knowing Whom To Trust and so on. For about half the book's 500 pages I found this an easy and exciting read, but it did begin to pall. The book is far too long and although I finished it, I did so in the spirit of wanting to know what happens now I've got this far, rather than being gripped by the plot which, by the last quarter of the book had got to the point where I met each supposedly gut-wrenching twist with "yep, I was waiting for that one."

Call me Mr Cynical, but I strongly suspect Marcus Sakey wrote this hoping for a big film deal. It has all the action set pieces expected of a Die Hard film, an oh-so-admirable central character who is amicably (and quite inexplicably) divorced so that he can be both a strong Family Man but also available for romantic attachments elsewhere, and the book's fundamental message is pretty much Motherhood, Apple Pie and God Bless America - all just perfect for a blockbuster actor who wants to be liked.

I perhaps shouldn't be quite so grumpy about this book. Marcus Sakey can certainly write and I enjoyed enough of it to (just) round 3.5 stars up to four. It's a decent beach read, but I doubt whether I'll be bothering with the next in the series.
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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't know what it is, 2 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: Brilliance (The Brilliance Saga Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
This book starts with an interesting premise about the birth of gifted, or 'abnorm' children. What differentiates this from X Men is that they have extreme human, but not superhuman, powers; to read body language, understand patterns, etc. The main protagonist is charged with tracking down those who go astray.

So far, so Blade Runner, but then the book suddenly morphs into a post 9/11 allegory, and then just as suddenly channels the last half of any early John Grisham novel, where the goodies are trying to keep one step ahead of the baddies by moving from hotel to hotel. Then Sakey seems to tire of writing that, so we get three days travel dismissed in a sentence, and we're plunged into another Philip K Dick plot line, from The Man In the High Castle.

And so it goes on. Like other reviewers, very few of the plot twists surprised me, and by two thirds of the way through I just wanted it to end.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars not so brilliant, 9 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: Brilliance (The Brilliance Saga Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Well, it seemed an interesting premise, if you'd missed the entire superhero genre, which evidently from the cover quote, Lee Child has. The protagonist is a 'brilliant' whose special power is, erm, 'pattern recognition,' which is possibly one of the duller superpowers, like being able to dry paint merely by looking at it for several hours. But hey, let's run with the idea, it could be useful. If he were any good at it, but since he seems unable to use his special power to foresee any of the blazingly obvious twists, you have to wonder if he's been misled. Plot developments pretty much have to typed up and handed to him in triplicate and then explained slowly and carefully.

The entire 'brilliants' premise is dropped quietly and quickly and the book turns into formulaic chase-thriller-with-terrorists which has been done often and better. The lead gets so smug you start to hope an asteroid lands on him, certainly his ego has enough gravity to attract one, and – of course – the lead female character just swoons over him, despite the fact that not so many pages ago he was sworn to kill her. She could have been delivered in a box and inflated with a foot pump. The wooden dialogue reflects this. Men and women don't interact that, not in real life. People don't. Character motivations are also very odd and contrived. Many of the decisions are 'really?' There's no sense that people would really make those choices and there's only so much disbelief you can suspend before you qualify as a trapeze act.

Half way through I started to stare avidly at the time-left-in-book. It become the most fascinating thing about this book. There's probably a long compound word in German for the feeling that comes from having to finish a dull book, but this summed it up. The writing could have done with a good edit, not just to pull out the slack, but to shape up the dialogue. There might have been a decent idea hiding in this, but it was lost without trace after the first chapter, as the only thing that distinguished it from a 1001 other thrillers was the premise. As others have pointed out, it reads more like that film treatment it obviously is. I can't say I'll be itching to buy a ticket.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just Brilliant!, 30 July 2014
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This review is from: Brilliance (The Brilliance Saga Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Excellent read, had to get up early this morning to finish it and am ordering the second instalment this evening. Well written. Gripping story line. And whereas I do agree with other reviewers that it is at times a bit derivative, it is none the worse for that. So if at times it is a cross between Die hard and X-Men with a touch of JD Robb's In Death novels thrown in for good measure - that's ok and please, keep doing it!!
Great Read!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitely a page turner!, 1 Sept. 2013
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This review is from: Brilliance (The Brilliance Saga Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Action packed to keep the reader engaged. Un-put-down-able. Well drawn characters and complex relationships. Can't wait for the next episode. Bring on the sequel.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Almost Brilliant., 15 May 2014
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In some ways, I think Brilliance is almost brilliant. There’s a huge amount to enjoy and much of it is highly engaging.
The plot is rather well put together and is based upon an interesting premise. Essentially, the world (read for world, the United States) has been rattled by the appearance of a new type of person, the brilliant. Brilliants have their own highly developed skills and talents, skills that go way beyond the expected norms. Nick Cooper, for example, has the ability to read people by seeing their intention projected in minute physical tells. He can also create patterns by using intention and character to work out what is likely to happen in the future. These skills make him perfectly suitable for working for the government as a DAR agent, a government that is rather nervous about the brilliants because of their talents and because of a growing terrorist fringe within their ranks.
There’s plenty for the brilliant to be unhappy about in a modern world where difference is deemed to be problematic, in particular the treatment and segregation of brilliant children who are taken away and practically brainwashed.
Cooper is a dedicated upholder of law and order. He firmly believes that he is saving his country from civil war and he is completely driven to making sure he succeeds in his work. His dedication to the cause of hunting down brilliant terrorist groups wavers a little when he realises his daughter is also a brilliant. He sees some of the unkind educational indoctrinations of the brilliant academies first hand and hopes he can find a better way for his own child.
In Part One, the world of the novel is set out wonderfully. I particularly liked the way it didn’t take a huge tangent from the way things really are, making each of the dilemmas posed all the more interesting to wrestle with. It’s clever and works very well. It also had the effect of drawing me in completely and in a very natural way, so that I was hooked from the off.
Another reason for the immediate engagement was the high quality of the action and the sense of danger. I enjoyed following Cooper in his initial hunt for the terrorist Vasquez who is on the verge of starting a war and needs to be captured. That hunt doesn’t end as Cooper might have predicted and he is struck by the dedication and passion felt by Vasquez about the movement to which she belongs.
Part Two was where I stuttered a little. Whereas in the early stages I felt I was on the main road and travelling at top speed, in the second section I felt more like I had been diverted along a series of backstreets and didn’t feel quite so connected. In part, this is because Cooper’s mission has taken a huge twist and he enters uncertain and unknown territory. Though there is lots of interest and detail here, there also seems to be a lot more explanation of what is going on and why. A lot more filling in of gaps so that everything remains understood. I also had some sense of being manipulated here, as if page-turning had become the main driving force.
Things do come together again. As relationships form and the many plot twists come together as a tight whole, it regains its balance and returns being an intelligent thriller. The action is all the more exciting because of the amount invested in the characters and it certainly goes out with a bang.
I imagine that this would make a great film. In fact, in some ways it feels like it was a film before it was a book, the structure and mood feeling very cinematic at times.
I really enjoyed the read and think any thriller lovers should pick this up.
I also had a look at the preview of the next book, something I very rarely do when I finish something. The opening line reads:
‘On the monitor, Cleveland was burning.’
How’s that for a hook? It’s certainly got me very interested indeed. There’s plenty in Brilliance to make sure I’ll be back for another look into the world Sakey has created. The things I know are that I have no idea how the story is going to unfold and that it will be a very exciting and interesting read.
Good stuff.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An absorbing and exciting thriller, 29 July 2013
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elsie purdon "reads too much" (dorset uk) - See all my reviews
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Set in our present time of 2013 but it is a different world due to the appearance of the "brilliants", these are people who have been born since 1986, people who have extra abilities "abnormal' as they are known.
Nick Cooper is an abnorm, one of the first to be born and now aged about 30 he works for the DAR: the Department of Analysis and Response, which is a Govt. funded organisation that deals with hunting terrorist abnormals. Or as they put it," an attempt to deal with a radically shifting world."

The novel gets off to a flying start with Coop and his team hunting down a female abnorm, a computer programer who was building a virus that could disrupt guidance systems on military aircraft.
She chooses suicide rather than be taken for interrogation.

There seems to be a war going on. The "normals" versus the "abnormals". But Coop is an abnorm fighting onside with the Govt. because he wants a peaceful world and will not side with terrorists.

From hereon the plot is complex and full of action and makes a good thriller. The added bonus is a different reality that is easy to accept and believe in.

The more I read of the novel the more I liked it. There is a plot development where the book changes gear and as a whole I found the writing became more interesting with the characters more fleshed out. There are some passages full of details, well written and for me some unexpected twists. Although you know there has to be a surprise coming I have to say I didn't guess what it was, though afterwards it did seem obvious. This is no way detracted from my enjoyment of the novel.
I thought the book did read as if it had been written with a film in mind so am not surprised to find out it will indeed be made into a film. It should be good. Full of action, not always original but still interesting and exciting.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Original Idea But Predictably Plotted, 19 July 2013
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C. Green "happily low brow" (Quenington, Glos, UK) - See all my reviews
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Brilliance is a classic example of a great concept let down by execution.

Marcus Sakey's alternative reality where, from the late 70's onwards, immensely gifted children began to be born, radically altering the course of history and by their simple existence creating new tensions between 'Brilliants' and normal people is great creation that is cleverly handled. This is an alternative history that feels real, you can genuinely believe in and is genuinely original.

Its just a pity that the story Sakey chooses to set in this world is by comparison so derivative. Not that it starts out that way. During the first third , as you get to understand how the world Sakey has created differs, often subtly, from our own and the plot begins to unfold the book is highly entertaining. Its when the central character, Nick Cooper, makes a critical choice a third of the way in that the story suddenly becomes incredibly predicable.

From that point on it becomes so obvious where the story will go that much of the excitement that characterised the book's opening passages evaporates. There's still a decent amount of action and both the world and characters in it continue to develop, but I could see each turn of the plot coming a mile off they were signalled so transparently. Nothing came as a surprise, not even the big 'twist', which was clearly telegraphed as early as one hundred pages in.

However, I am still giving 'Brilliance' four stars, although it only just scrapes the fourth. Despite all the problems with plot and narrative the strength of the concept, some solid characterisation and decent action meant I still liked it, and there was enough promise there to make me pick up the next in what apparently will be a trilogy of books when its published.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fear of The Different, 4 Jun. 2013
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Amazon Customer "Boo62" (Ilkeston Derbyshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Marcus Sakey introduces an alternate history where the 1980's see's a new breed of human appear. The'Brilliant's' are each gifted with a sense that far outstrips any normal human. Perhaps the ability to study motion and predict where people and objects will be before it happens, to know by peoples responses what they intend, desire and want.
At first society see's these children as harmless distractions but as they grow the world begins to awaken to the realisation that 1 percent of the human race will soon run the entire planet and that the normal will become sidelined and possibly even slaves.

The situation is not helped when a government agency is introduced to track the new breed and , when it feels necessary, eliminate them. Special academies are introduced to help keep control of the special children and a plan to microchip them all is passed.
The gifted don't help themselves with actions like one of them being able to read the stock market like a book and clearing $300 billion before anyone notices & creating the need for an alternate market.
The inevitable happens and some of the brilliants become terrorists and begin bombing and assassination attacks while government agencies have their budgets boosted and human rights are eroded.
Before long war looms and the hatred of the majority of America turns upon the gifted.

Amongst this special agent Nick Cooper, himself a gifted, is happily tracking & terminating what he see's as rogue elements of his own kind.
However when a bomb is planted in a public area & he becomes involved he gets to see beneath the surface at what is really happening and begins a journey of both self discovery & change.

`Brilliance' see's an enjoyable mix of `The 4400' meets `Homeland'. This is in many ways a simple holiday read that belts along at a fair old pace and keeps the interest throughout with good plot twists, engaging characterisation & a continual current of tense action throughout.

What give this it's edge is the fact that this alternate history is in fact no different from today, it's just the `enemy' that's been changed.

Sakey makes sparse use of his different world, it's pretty much America today, but for a few differences. Certainly the misunderstandings, lies and hatred that exist on all sides remains the same.

This may carry a heavy message but it is well wrapped up in a very enjoyable action adventure so that you are never being clobbered by political or ideological beliefs. This can easily just be read as a well written novel.

A pacey read with much to recommend it and a well plotted story arc, this is well worth a try & the near 500 pages fly by very quickly.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting premise, could be developed further, 12 Sept. 2013
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Nikola (Slovenia) - See all my reviews
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Action sci-fi thriller which wants to be a Hollywood movie. Interesting premise - from 1981 on, 1% of children are born with special powers. Not really super-powers like flying, bending spoons, but with extreme pattern recognitions and similar. They are known as "Brilliants" and as they grow up, they start changing the world. American society is polarised and split into normals and "abnorms".

Story will probably evolve into followups - in this one, we follow Agent Cooper fighting against "abnorm terrorists" (being abnorm himself). Story is interesting and tense, with some unexpected but also some very expected twists. However, I think author did not manage to use idea's full potential. Action sequences are interesting and characters well built, but as I see it, story is basically taken from Al-Qaida attack on WTC and then continued on basis of many conspiracy theories evolving after.

Besides that, I would have liked to hear more about the impact on the world - authors focuses on America, and rarely spreads focus out of his main characters.
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