Friday, July 22, 2016

Book Review: Brilliance by Marcus Sakey

Brilliance is a thriller with a dash of sci-fi and a whole lotta political intrigue.  The main story line sets the country up into two factions-the gifted and the normal.  Gifted people are NOT those who excel in calculus and physics.  They are brilliant, hence the title, with almost supernatural powers.  For example, the main character Nick Cooper, can zero in on one's body language and determine exactly what he/she will do.  His daughter can organize just about anything into intricate patterns.  The richest man in the world who bought the state of Wyoming can figure out algorithms within the stock market and make tons of money.  There are no limits to what the gifted can learn let alone do.
These gifted types are identified and then put in a special school where they are pitted against each other.  The friction is intentionally part of the government's curriculum.  Big brother is really threatened.  If they all get along, then everyone else would be screwed.  The world still allows the gifted to work with the normals at many jobs such as government agencies which is where Nick Cooper comes in.  He is an a DAR agent.  This agency is like Homeland Security.  He and his colleagues are on a mission to catch a terrorist, John Smith.  Smith has been the patsy for several bombings.  He has a following of other gifted people who want him to overthrow the government.  He is connected to the richest man in the world who owns Wyoming, a place where the gifted can leave the regular world and be with their own kind.
Without giving too much away, Cooper soon learns he has been played.

My Review: This story touches on so many themes of paranoia within the government.  Is art imitating life or life imitating art?  The American media and politicians are constantly pumping up citizens to tear each other apart instead of trying to get along.  Not to get too political, but I think we all know specifically what I'm talking about.  Sakey uses the differences between humans instead of the commonalities for his novel.  Are we threatened of groups of people with too much power?  Whether it's intellect, money, or power, I think he's more than fair in pointing this out.  It's human nature to want to keep what you believe is yours.  The government could easily get toppled by a handful of people who are smarter, more talented, and more creative if they all managed to unite.  Without spoiling anything, the end of the book is left open.  Will Nick Cooper blow the lid off of corruption in anger or will he wait until the time is right?  Will he bury the government's secrets in the name of peace?  Will he and Shannon wind up a couple?  Will he get back together with his wife?  So many questions!  I loved this book and will eventually get around to buying the next installment.  Sakey writes with clarity, a sense of humor, and suspense.  The characters were believable and likable.  I loved the settings, especially China Town in Chicago.  It has always been one of my favorite places to visit.  I loved how he separated the country into two groups of people.  The gifted were treated like the Jews under Hitler's rule.  Great stuff, Marcus!  5 out of 5 Stars.

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