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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.
Marcus Sakey’s Brilliance takes place in a parallel universe where, in the year 1980, a small percentage of the human population began to develop superior abilities. Each member of this group of “brilliants,” also know as “abnorms” or the more offensive “twists,” has the ability to see patterns that the rest of the world is oblivious to – whether that affinity manifests with numbers or music or art or even human behavior is unique to each individual.
The story follows Nick Cooper, an agent for the DAR – Department of Analysis and Response – which monitors abnorm behavior and protects the world from the ones who use their abilities in harmful ways. Cooper, who is himself a brilliant, uses his gifts to decode human behavior and track down terrorists.
The story opens with Cooper tracking down an abnorm computer programmer who is developing a virus that will cripple the country’s military. As Cooper corners her on the roof of a building, the terrorist insists that war is inevitable; that “All you can do is pick a side.”
The rest of the novel tracks Coopers struggle with this idea. He has always believed that coexistence is possible and that his roll is fundamental in that process. However, as his beliefs are challenged and the truths that he has held at his core are torn away, Cooper is left with a choice: which side is he on?
While this novel wasn’t exactly unpredictable or revolutionary, it was definitely a good read. There are action-packed moments and scenes of intense contemplation. The character is really someone you can root for: a man who desperately wants to do good and is seeking the truth about what that entails. Cooper is also a father, and his love for his children is his biggest driving force. It propels the story and makes the character even more human.
Readers should be warned, though, that this novel isn’t totally family-friendly. There is some language, especially towards the beginning, and a scene where two characters bond over a night of debauchery (including copious amounts of alcohol and a shared joint). There is also a sex scene, but the for the most part Sakey handled it tastefully.
Over all, this was a nice light read. Not to intense, it would be a great novel to pick up during periods of limited spare time. It was enjoyable enough that I wanted to keep reading, but not so tempting that I couldn’t put it down when I had other things I needed to do.