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.
©2013 Marcus Sakey (P)2013 Brilliance Audio
I am an artist, living in Cairns, Queensland, Australia right next to the Great Barrier Reef. I listen to audiobooks everyday while making art and on into the night. I really like mysteries with a good serving of suspense on the side that keep you wondering right to the end. However, I won't say no to any entertaining and well written book which has been read by an excellent narrator.
Well it was OK and I sort of enjoyed it, but in the end I guess the story did not just come together enough for me and there was not enough detailing of situations and characters to make the implausible, plausible. For me, I give a book a 3 star rating when it's good, 4 stars for very good, and 5 stars for really excellent.
When I first saw this book I thought the author's name looked familiar then it came to me he is the Host of Hidden City on the Travel Channel. I was also familiar with the narrator Luke Daniels for his work in The Iron Druid Chronicles so I figured I would give this book a try. This is the 1st book in a planed Trilogy with the next book planed to come out 6 months after Marcus Sakey finishes it... pretty vague I know. The film rights were bought by Legendary Pictures, you might recognize them for the Dark Knight series, Watchman and Inception movies. So we will soon see this book turned into a feature film, which explains a lot about the style of writing and the depth of characters. If you have ever read Michael Crichton books you will understand what I am talking about. The book was written to be a movie so the book to movie adaption would go smoothly.
This story takes place in the same time period we currently live in but it follows an alternate time line. In this alternate time line there is an unexplainable increase in idiot savants, rather all the capabilities of savants without the downfalls. This group of people known as abnorms or twists are identified by the government and are forced to attend academy's as children where they are renamed and brainwashed. Any abnorms not controlled by the government are hunted down and killed by a government law enforcement agency that operates outside of the law, and with no regard to peoples civil liberty's under the pretense of protection. The main character Nick Cooper an agent tasked with hunting down abnorms begins to discover things aren't what they seem. We follow Cooper in his search for the truth.
The sci-fi premise of the book seemed promising: suddenly and with no apparent cause, people start being born who are off-the-charts brilliant at an astonishing rate. Think of it like the "autism epidemic" only with geniuses. At a very young age, the geniuses are taken away from their parents and put in boarding schools where they are placed in competition with one another (reminiscent of Ender's Game). They are taught not to trust other brilliants and to bond only to their teachers, who are not brilliants. These are really interesting ideas.
Unfortunately, the story is encumbered with a one-dimensional protagonist. The main character--a "Brilliant" who has chosen to use his special talents as a sort of special ops guy who tracks down other brilliants for the government--has just one reaction to everything. His special talent is to be able to read people's body language and know just what they are going to do next. This gives him a great advantage in a fight. His backstory adds in the tidbit that he was bullied on the playground when he was a kid. And there you have this "fascinating" (NOT) character whose only reaction to any given situation is to want to fight, hit, push, crush, and otherwise physically assault people. He has this reaction constantly, whether the person he is talking to is a threat or not. If your only tool is a hammer . . .
Other characters seem like they were cut-and-pasted from a bad detective noir novel. The protagonist's side-kick detective is also heavy with the street fighter mentality. Even the women in the book have an aggressive, male vibe--one of them says something like "Whose ball sack do I have to hold in order to get a drink around here?" No one talks like that. The constant aggressive nature of the protagonist and the terrible dialog was so off-putting that I only listened to about 1-1/2 hours of this novel.
That's too bad, because I liked the narrator. Luke Daniels did an amazing job switching voices for each character. He was equally good at doing the male and the female characters.
The reason i gave the story 3 stars...there is an academy for children in the book, the treatment of the children is evil and made me want to vomit, i was beyond disturbed to red hot anger.
On balance the book is good, other than the obvious i enjoyed it. Perhaps i'm a little over sensitive where child abuse is concerned and if you are like me in that prepare yourself or skip the book.
The book was great and didn't need the added drama of abuse to entertain or add to the drama. It was simply gratuitous, in my opinion.
I have to write 15 words here but I can't think of an answer that isn't insulting to people who like this. But I've filled the 15 words now. So that's a good.
The protagonist's inability to think anything through and the lack of exploration of the sci fi concept the book introduces.
This is how the main character thinks things through: "Someone I love is potentially under threat? OK, I'm going to make that threat harder to deal with and ignore every warning sign I see. But it's because I feel really strong about this, so I don't have to think."
This problem is compounded by the fact the character is meant to be good at analysing characters and their future actions. That's his sci fi super power - predicting the future. The author had an out where initially it's just in specific situations but instead of using that to maybe say there were downsides to these skills/powers because you became too reliant on them, thus explaining his incredibly short term view of the world, the book stresses both that he can't turn the power off and then uses his power to figure it all out.
So he can't turn the power off, even, and he's only been given one small extra piece of information. And he figures out something he could have figured out if he'd ever simply considered a posibility. And his power is always on. So, in over a decade, and especially in the last ~4 years when he knew he had a bigger stake in the issue than just himself, he never with his unable to turn off power ever had a bit of a think.
He was also kind of a moral vacuum, even after his realisation of what was going on, still expressing a strong willingness to sacrifice millions for a small reprive for his family.
The other disappointment was the lack of exploration of the sci fi concept - that instead of idiot savants a bunch of regular savants are born. A fun concept. The further things we learn as the book develops - sometimes really strong savants can't function 'cause of a kind of sensory overload and none of the savants can turn their ability off. That's it. No other pitfalls. No unexpected applications of the abilities. Each ability is introduced early on, is quite simple and doesn't change.
At first I thought he was a bit cheesey sounding but that's just the American announcer voice that male American narrators seem to have. I got into it. He did voices for each character and really had a go.
Is it just me or is this a ridiculous question? But I have to get my 15 words in.Cutting Jar Jar Binks wouldn't have fixed the structural problems and characters in The Phantom Menace. Cutting any one character from this book wouldn't fix the problems with it.
This book had potential but it was squandered by making the main character a bit dim (while claiming he was a genius). For the first half of the book I was genuinely hoping the predictable thing wouldn't happen and instead he'd die and another character would take the lead. That hope was squashed the further I read and the predictable happened.
I hope, for the author's sake, he makes the character a bit brighter or better yet just follow a different person in the same world and has something up his sleeve for the abilities to develop for the sequel.
I won't be reading it, but I hope he does.It really is a fun concept. If you're the kind of person who can genuinely turn their brain off while reading this stuff probably wouldn't bother you.
Sounded like just the thing I like, but irritating instead.
Narrator was fine
Mental child abuse
a real disappointment
The Mad Reader
This book...what can I say? It blew my mind! The story is so rich and detailed. I loved the idea of a world where more and more humans were born with special talents which made them brilliants, and how a whole web of terrorism and conspiracies was built around it. This book definitely kept me on an edge. But my absolute favourite thing was the talents themselves. They were so cool, and not at all ordinary. I mean, they weren’t superhero type of powers, but rather normal abilities enhanced, and I treasured how the world improved because of them.
Another great feature of this book where its characters. They all had their own unique personalities and it was cool to see them blend together. Some of them are really unexpected, in a way you couldn’t predict.
I adored the relationship Cooper had with his ex wife and kids, and his ability to work as a team. I loved his team mate Bobby, and the easy way Nick and Shannon's conversation flowed.
Every piece of information would come back later on as a relevant clue to the puzzle. Sometimes it seemed that too much unnecessary information was given, but in the end every piece fits perfectly and you realize why they were put there to begin with.
It did appear to me that maybe too many details were added and as an Audiobook sometimes they were hard to follow. They contributed to the sense of what Cooper was seeing, which added some effect of what his power would feel like, but I did get lost in the details. Maybe it’s because I listened to it when commuting, so I could only listen to like 10 minutes at a time, but once you reach part 2 you are already too invested in this story to care.
In sum, this book is thrilling, enticing and will definitely want you leaving more.
Regarding the narration, it’s safe to say that Luke Daniels is THE BEST narrator I’ve heard so far. He definitely added something extra to the already great story; he gave it a black & white old detective movie kind of vibe, even if the book is not much of a mystery; which made it much easier to get into this book and get enthralled by it. I’m definitely going to get the second book in the series as an Audiobook just for the pleasure of hearing him. His voice is so versatile and masculine; but the best part is not even that.
They were so many characters and he managed to give each one of them a distinct voice you could recognize the character in a second when they spoke. He even had a different voice for the narrator. Of course, about the 15th character appearance, voices started to sound alike, but that is kind of inevitable. I’m always so sceptic on male narrators doing female voices, because they tend to make them sound like drag queens, no disrespect intended. But Luke totally nailed Shannon. She felt like a whole woman to me, at least. Overall, Luke’s technique is impeccable! You should definitely watch out for more of his work.
My favorite quote. When we have "the talk" with our daughter we are going to tell her that sex is between one a man and an woman in love unless one of those is a rich twist then I will tell her to remember best effort... (I garbled the quote but I laughted out loud)
It was like X-Men. A few exceptional people begin to arise. Us VS Them always stands out....
This was a good story and a good read. I would have liked to give it four stars.
But the author doesn't trust the reader to get the point. He hits the reader over the head with it, over and over again. It's like the Holocaust (boink!). It's like making the Jews wear a yellow star (boink!). It's like the WWII Japanese internment camps (boink!). It's like racism (boink!). It's like homophobia (boink!). And then I read an article he wrote and he also says it's about autism.
By doing this, he disrespects the reader and adds a falseness to the story. He's not black. He's not gay. He's not Japanese. He's not autistic. (I don't know if he's Jewish, but even if he is, he grew up in America and never had to wear a yellow star!)
It's always risky to tell a story not your own. But, hey, that's what fiction is. But then just tell the story and trust the reader to make her or his own connections and comparisons.
The narrator was okay, but not my favorite. He only had one alternate voice other than Cooper's and it was rather annoying.
Once I started listening, I couldn't stop - totally pulled me into the story. I can see this book being made into a movie! The narrator spoke a little too fast at times, but otherwise was fine. Totally enjoyed listening to this one!
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