4.5 6
by Marcus Sakey

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A 2013 Edgar Award Nominee for Best Paperback Original

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


A 2013 Edgar Award Nominee for Best Paperback Original

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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Sakey (The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes) paints a near future too close for comfort in this stunning thriller, the first in a projected series. About 1% of American children born after 1986—known as abnorms, among other names—are particularly brilliant. A tiny percentage of these are problematic, like Erik Epstein, who understood stock market movements so well he made a fortune that led to the permanent closing of the New York Stock Exchange in 2011. Nick Cooper, a divorced former soldier and a member of Equitable Services, a U.S. government agency with the responsibility of tracking and killing abnorm terrorists, plays a dangerous cat-and-mouse game with the terrorists’ leader, John Smith, and with Shannon Azzi, Smith’s agent. Cooper calls Shannon “the Girl Who Walks Through Walls” for her ability to appear out of nowhere. When Cooper’s children come under threat, he pretends to defect from Equitable Services and reluctantly teams with Shannon. He soon finds his world giddily turning upside down while he sacrifices almost everything for justice and equality. In this parable of democracy’s downfall told in rapid-fire cuts, Sakey upends truths Cooper once thought self-evident, the truths people don’t seem to want any more, preferring instead, “safe lives and nice electronics and full fridges”—nothing less than the tragedy of our times. Agent: Scott Miller, Trident Media Group. (July)
Kirkus Reviews
A deadly agent assigned to track down and terminate dangerous, gifted fugitives finds society's landscape shifting beneath his feet. What if 1 percent of the world's children were born with powerful gifts? How would society adapt to their presence? Those are just some of the big questions behind this visceral, inventive thriller by prolific crime writer Sakey (The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes, 2011, etc.). It's set in a future where non-neurotypical people (demonized as "twists" by society) are threatening the status quo of the "normal" population with their unique gifts. Divorcé Nick Cooper is a noirish government agent who works for the dully named Department of Analysis and Response in a U.S.-funded agency, Equitable Services. His job is to track down criminals who use their gifts for ill. These aren't the well-worn tropes of the superhero genre—for example, Cooper's gift is for predictive analysis, allowing him to see what will happen before it happens and react. It's a vision that offers up bone-crunching violence and a plausible future that is far more terrifying than it might seem on the surface. We first meet Cooper as he's engaging an abnorm in a pitched rooftop chase. Before plunging to her death, she warns Cooper, "You can't stop the future. All you can do is pick a side." The book is ultimately about a standoff between a terrorist who dubs himself "John Smith," Cooper, and a woman, Shannon Azzi, who may or may not be on Smith's side. But in the telling, Sakey pulls off every trick in the book, from staccato dialogue to jaw-dropping plot reversals—he even engages in some worldbuilding by seeding the book with eerie interstitial elements like news reports and advertisements that help portray a world going to hell in real time. It's a dizzying ride in which the novel's execution is as nimble as its freaky ideas. A farsighted thriller about what happens when people really do think differently.

Product Details

Thomas & Mercer
Publication date:
Brilliance Trilogy Series, #1
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

Marcus Sakey is the author of four novels, three of which are in development as feature films. He has been nominated for or won an Anthony, Barry, Macavity, and ITW Thriller Award.

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Brilliance 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
ToManyBooksNotEnoughTime More than 1 year ago
I would like to thank Thomas & Mercer, as well as NetGalley, for a copy of this ebook to review. Though I received this ebook for free, that has no impact upon the honesty of my review. As the first book of a series I'd expected this to be heavy on the world building and character development, but the two dovetailed nicely, cutting down on the slower material. This story essentially explodes off the page from the beginning until the end. What really made this book work for me was how focused it was on the personalities. Other books about people with extraordinary mental abilities often get stuck in the description and use of those abilities, sometimes forgetting the person wielding them. Not Brilliance. Here we get deep into Nick Cooper's psyche and all that makes him tick. As we, and he, learn more about who he is and how he relates to the world around him he becomes the force that moves the story forward. His relationships bring in new characters and their relation to Cooper determines how much we learn about them in most cases. Cooper's life is one of action, and pretty much always has been. He's a faithful believer in what he's doing, which is protecting the world from the abnorms gone rogue. But the reason he's the best at what he does is the fact that he too is an abnorm, or twist as he likes to call them. But part of the problem is that his work has cut him off from contact with others like him, something he isn't consciously aware is a problem. But at his core, his deepest belief is in protecting his family. Everything he does comes back to wanting a better, safer world for his two kids to grow up in. And that's what makes him so damned relatable. Not his abilities, not his faith that what he's doing is the right thing, but his love of his kids. But to protect them he'll have to step outside his safety zone, quite literally. He will have to become the very thing he hunts, and make everyone believe it's true if he's to have even a chance of pulling this off. Following Cooper through his personal and professional interactions is like riding a roller coaster blindfolded. With this story's twists and turns you simply never know where you'll end up or what's coming next. And that's what makes this such an exhilarating read. Well that and the layers of commentary on not just the social system in his world, but how it's reflected in ours. So you can read this simply for the thrills involved, or for the messages included, or like me you can absorb them both. Though I'll say that I often stayed in the story and only got back to the messages on an active level upon putting the book down, and that didn't happen very often once I began reading. But both the thrills and messages are still percolating in my mind as I write this, and I'm sure they'll continue to do so as I read the next book, and the one coming after that. And I can't wait to get started on them!
jayfwms More than 1 year ago
A very different story that uses the idea of humans with advanced capabilities to analyze the character development of a man caught between the normals and abnormals.. Human traits of friendship, love, evil and loyalty are all on display as Cooper, a senior operative for the government agency dealing with abnormals, fights to do what is right and protect his family. The book is engrossing right up to the end, which does a good job of closing this chapter yet leaving the sequel door open. It is well-written and worth reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TheBookRecluse More than 1 year ago
One of the downsides of reading a lot of genre fiction is that you are exposed to a lot of very poor writers. This is especially true if you are like me and will pick up anything that remotely sounds interesting. Yet, every so often it pays off in a big way. You are exposed to a book that is not a brilliantly written genre book, but a beautiful novel that happens to fit into a genre category. It is ironic that Marcus Sakey is writing about individuals with above average talents  when he himself rises above the everyday writer to create an amazing piece of literature. Ultimately Brilliance is a Science Fiction book that takes place in an alternate reality, a reality in which people with extraordinary abilities started being born in the 1980s. The main character is an agent sworn to protect the world from these individuals, however he is also one of them. This book is about the harsh realities of the world. It is about the scarifies of being a parent, and of standing up for what you believe in. It is also just really good fiction. It is a book that I could not stop reading, even when I had to put the book down. The plot never seemed to leave my head, the characters walked with me throughout my day. It is that good of a book.
BrandieC More than 1 year ago
The cover of Brilliance displays a blurb from Lee Child: "the kind of story you've never read before." With all due respect to Child, I have read this story (and seen it on TV and in the movies) many times before.  Sakey, however, invigorates this familiar plot by making the "enemy" not some "other," but 10% of American's own citizens: "brilliants" born with amazing savant talents. What's fascinating, and at times downright terrifying, is Sakey's thorough exploration of the fears aroused in both factions (the "norms" and the "abnorms") and the horrible, albeit perfectly logical, actions provoked by those fears. It requires little imagination on the reader's part to substitute some other discrete group for the abnorms and to follow the chain of events to the same (apparently) inevitable conclusion. This human tendency to automatically divide into "us" and "them" has been evident in many a recent news story, both in the United States and abroad (witness the June 14 attacks in Mpeketoni, Kenya, in which Somali militants killed those who were not Muslim or who could not speak Somali). Through the non-threatening vehicle of science fiction, Sakey's Brilliance offers us the opportunity to thoughtfully consider the dangerous consequences of this tendency before we, too, find ourselves on opposite sides of an unnecessary divide.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very gripping read. A mixture of x-men and Alphas. Not entirely unpredictable, but extremely enjoyable. Strongly recommend.