book review: Brilliance by Marcus Sakey

I recently joined a book group, which I am so excited to be a part of. However, life happens and in which case, last Thursday (our first book club review party) Evelyn had a fever and my father in law needed attention, calling my duties to stay at home rather than book clubbin’. So lucky you, you get to hear my book review thoughts since I missed out on sharing with the group.

Our first book was Brilliance by Marcus Sakey. This is the first book in what may be a series (a sequel was introduced at the end of the book). I hadn’t heard of the book prior to picking it up and had no expectations. I chose not to even read the back cover to get a hint of what it was about and in this case, I was happy that I hadn’t. I am the type who looks for parallels, deeper meaning, hidden plot lines, etc. and this book satisfied part of that search.
The basic plot: In the early 1980’s one percent of children born had capabilities unfathomable to the general population – such as being able to make $300 billion dollars off the stock market by reading patterns, being able to tell if someone is telling the truth or about to lie by simply looking at them, or being able to anticipate the next 10 moves a person is deciding to make before they even stand up. They became known as brilliants or abnorms. The book is about the dissonance between the brilliants and the normals.
This dissonance begins when a brilliant – activist known as “John Smith” assassinates 73 norms in a restaurant. A government agency known the DAR is set up to alleviate fear and threat to the normals, keep the brilliants in line and hunt for John Smith. The DAR also set up academies for all children born a tier one brilliant to attend to help assimilate them into the general population upon graduation (main focus is teaching them to hate being a brilliant and to trust only normals). The main character, Nick Cooper is a brilliant that sets out to help the DAR track down John Smith, anticipate the patterns of his kind and keep the general public safe. When another terrorist activity, set off by the brilliants, kills over 1,000 innocent people, Nick does the unthinkable as he puts his life on the line to fight for all he’s believed in and take down John Smith.

Without giving any spoilers away, this book has many twists and turns, keeping it a fast and easy read. The writing makes it easy to get inside the mind of Nick Cooper as he anticipates his next move, gambles with trust and unfolds patterns both past and present as the plot unravels to its conclusion. While some of the storyline was predictable, it was a very fun and exciting read. It was easy to put myself in the story as it took place in 2013 and depicted special traits in individuals that could be both a nuisance and a blessing (which I think we can all agree, we all have them). Our traits just are not as heightened and as advanced as the brilliants in the book but I had fun talking with my husband about what my super-enhanced trait may be: organization. It’s been fun to wonder what enhanced traits co-workers, family and even my daughter may secretly be living with in this alternate universe (as I sit hoping my daughter doesn’t end up as a tier one – another topic of discussion in itself).
I would definitely recommend this book as a fun, easy read. Well written, easy to dive into and engaging. Looking forward to the sequel coming out sometime next year (2014).