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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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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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on 8 July 2014
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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on 18 August 2015
As good as the first book was as bad is this. What happened?(besides to write a sequel as fast as possible)Nothing of the good writing is there anymore. the character that was strange and mysterious and interesting has changed to predictable and boring new ones. And the good protagonist has become sentimental and silly. Far from brilliant. Do yourself a favor if you liked, as I did, the first book and stay away from this. I drags down the whole saga...
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on 17 December 2014
First things first: as a writer, Markus Sakey definitely has balls.

It never ceases to amaze me in this series how far Sakey is able to escalate the situations he creates. Every time a crisis reaches breaking point (and at exactly the point where most writers would back off and have someone save the day) Sakey somehow pushes things even further. This lends the Brilliance books a level of tension so few novels manage since you really never know what's going to happen next. Every time you think, okay, this is the breaking point, this is the limit...Sakey snaps right through it and takes the situation to a whole new level. It makes for an absolutely exhilarating read.

It also helps that Sakey writes well. These novels are as fast paced as anything I've read and while there are some cheesy moments, I think that's exactly what this sort of book requires to keep it from either becoming a numbing succession of action sequences or ruining the mood with out of place personal dramas. The dialogues are sparky and generally to the point and the characters are fleshed out quickly with the reader easily able to supply details and form opinions based on their actions.

I'm not at all surprised these books have been optioned for movie releases and I hope they get the big budget treatment as I could see them becoming huge successes if done right.
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on 26 May 2016
Great Trilogy of books, didn't know it was 3 books until I bought the first. First 2 great can't put it down kind of books and so of course with the 3rd you have to know how it is all wrapped up. A tidy finish but a little bit "they all lived happily ever after" except for one developing problem spot.
Well worth the time taken to read, action, romance and sex, plausible sci fi, philosophy, and a whole host of life elements including family affects on decisions made. Having just read the first few pages of one of this authors early works the step forward with these is tremendous and he is definitely an author to watch.
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on 30 May 2015
I have to say it took me a while to get into this novel, which was surprising having flown through the first one and enjoyed every minute.
This second book in the series is a little slower to get going and when it does it all quickly builds to a rather epic climax. However, it is fair to say that although enjoyable it is very guilty of being a middle book of a trilogy and it is soon very clear not all the plot threads will be resolved in this book.
That aside, the book is well written and the characters are believable with solid character development.
I hope the final books lives up to my expectations.
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on 29 January 2016
The. Second book is better than the first. The way the story twists and turns is nothing but genius. I am recovering from surgery and this book has taken me into another world where pain is a distant ache. I highly recommend this series. Can't wait to read the last in the series.
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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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on 23 August 2015
it's not often that a sequel beats the first in a trilogy, carrying the action forward in skilled and unexpected ways. I immediately pre-ordered the third in this trilogy, and look forward to it very much.
You must read book 1 first, though!
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on 10 August 2014
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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