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.
The audio books I get tend to be either 1) scifi or 2) things for my husband and me to listen to on long road trips--humor or history
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.
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Good guys, bad guys, brilliants, normals, isolation, inclusion. I am left wondering what to take away from this one. It's almost a dystopian story. It is believable, evidently localized to the US, and, I guess, is the forerunner to a big social upheaval.
Luke Daniels, as always, does a fine job narrating.
Why must finding a solo book (not part of a series) be so very hard? WHO is writing stand-alone-story-that-wraps-up-cleanly books? I'll buy
Brilliance is a good story, made better by the reader. (Except for the female laugh, Mr. Daniels, work on that ... make it less nasal, more throaty.) The plot gusted a bit toward X-men, but nonetheless, I was able to get into the narrative in my head, and live it along with the characters.
I love mysteries. I've read all Agatha Christie's and Mary Higgins Clark's books. I'm on the hunt for more great books with female heroines.
I would change all the immature references to female body parts. It sounds like it was written by a frustrated sex-a-holic who never got the girls. The author womanizes in his writing to take his frustrations out on physically beautiful and confident women. It's a subliminal theme throughout his writing. And, I personally don't care for the narrator's "Keanu Reeves-like" voice. But, I've never liked KR or his voice in films. That type of voice sounds like someone who is trying too hard to sound "tough." Not working.
Womanizing, "poor me" victim-like whining of the lead character who, naturally, would only have an EX-wife. I'm sure that this story does have an audience...maybe people who've been only labeled as "smart" all their lives. They'll connect with the idea of gifted people being victimized by all those big bad mean (popular) bullies.
I've trailed away through most of it. I love mystery and suspense but the main topic's of no interest to me. I foolishly thought other listeners' reviews were on target. My "least" favorite sentence in the book is when the lead character is just sure of the physical description of a female receptionist on the other end of the phone. Wa?
Nope...shallow, immature writing style
You get what you pay for, listeners...fair warning. On the other hand, all you "brilliants" who disagree with everything I've said above will dig the book. Go for it!
yes. The story was interesting. I felt like a lot of the story was really obvious, and I was never really surprised by anything that happened.
Obvious ending, but it was fine.
No, This book was very slow at the beginning. It took me several tries to get into it.
This book is worth picking up if you like stories about superhuman abilities. I like the genre myself, which I think made an otherwise stale book worth finishing.
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.
People say I resemble my dog (and vice-versa). He can hear sounds I can't hear, but I'm the one who listens to audiobooks.
Marcus Slakey knew he was entering a crowded field with Brilliance. Asked about the obvious parallel to X-Men, he said he wanted to write about real people with special abilities. Never mind Heroes, The 4400, The Magicians, Harry Potter, I Am Number Four etc. etc. etc. (look up superpowers on Goodreads, the lists are hundreds of titles long). So you can't fault him for trying something that's been done umpteen times before -- he's hardly the only one.
Lack of originality is the least of Slakey's problems. Familiar constructs can still be fresh in characterization, dialogue, humor, world building, symbolism, subtext, and other literary devices. For Slakey, none of those elements ever rises above cliche. The plot is familiar and predictable, the dialogue laughably trite, the characters straight from central casting -- the two main characters even discuss getting to know more about each other beyond the one-dimensional reputations that preceded them. Humorless agent? I also love hot sauce, dance badly, can quote Hemingway. Fanatical terrorist? I now know a few things about you too (unspecified). Nothing like demonstrating to your readers via dialogue how badly constructed your characters are.
Then there are the superhuman abilities some people have, including our protagonist. Too bad his ability fails him so often, for no reason other than, well, the ability failing him for no reason. Not much of an ability after all. How are we tp believe these people are dangerous when their batting averages are below the Mendoza line?
Making matters worse: Luke Daniels. I've listened to him a half dozen times or so. His over the top voices can't totally ruin a good book. But they can make an average book not worth the listen. And they can only make a mediocre paint-by-numbers book like this worse. My wife likes to say you can deep-fry cardboard and it would taste good -- not even the best narrator could make these cardboard characters palatable, and Luke Daniels is not even close. Needless to say, the remainder of this trilogy will remain unread by me.
I read tons of contemporary sci-fi stories. In my opinion, Brilliance is near the best of them.
Brilliance is a thriller mixed in with a conspiracy set in a slightly alternate reality. The world here contains a minority, 1 percent of society is 'gifted' with super natural abilities. There is a clash between the gifted and the normals. Think X-Men, only instead of fire bolts coming out of eyes, think people with the ability to read patterns & by so doing, have an advantage over everyone else. I think this premise is very cool. It is not set in a comic book world where super hero's thrive, instead the world is filled with savants that have a hard time coping with those around them.
Before listening, I read some of the reviews. I disagree with several that say this is a 'slow' story. The pacing is excellent. Sakey has a gift akin to Grisham or Patterson. You are sucked in right away. Its not action such as nonstop fist fights, but action where the main character is trying to find out about himself.
Very good characters. Very interesting alternate reality. The story is well written. The narration is first rate.
I think the only fault I can find is the story becomes more than a little far fetched in places. If I were writing it, I would have gone for a slightly darker take on things. Wouldn't have reached quite so far. But over all, I have to say this is a first rate thriller/sci fi story.
Dr. Jim Fox -- Former College Professor and Mental Health Therapist
I love Sci-Fi, especially war type stuff. This book is based in the very near future, even the present. There was a deep seated "lesson". It hits you all the time which is a slight drawback. Nice story about love of kids and people in the middle of amazing near future story about loyalty and how to look at the truth.
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