A Better Worldby Marcus Sakey (Website, Facebook, Twitter)
Series: Brilliance Saga #2
Published by Thomas & Mercer on June 17, 2014
Genres: Adult, Crime, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Thriller
Amazon • Book Depository • Goodreads
I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The brilliants changed everything.
Since 1980, 1% of the world has been born with gifts we’d only dreamed of. The ability to sense a person’s most intimate secrets, or predict the stock market, or move virtually unseen. For thirty years the world has struggled with a growing divide between the exceptional...and the rest of us.
Now a terrorist network led by brilliants has crippled three cities. Supermarket shelves stand empty. 911 calls go unanswered. Fanatics are burning people alive.
Nick Cooper has always fought to make the world better for his children. As both a brilliant and an advisor to the president of the United States, he’s against everything the terrorists represent. But as America slides toward a devastating civil war, Cooper is forced to play a game he dares not lose—because his opponents have their own vision of a better world.
And to reach it, they’re willing to burn this one down.
From Marcus Sakey, “the master of the mindful page turner” (Gillian Flynn) and “one of our best storytellers” (Michael Connelly), Book Two of the Brilliance Saga is a relentless thrill ride that will change the way you look at your world—and the people around you.
Brilliance was one of my favorite books of 2013, and I’ve eagerly awaited the release of the second installment in this sci-fi thriller series featuring a world where 1% of the population have startlingly enhanced intellects or abilities. The mark of a great followup is one where the book can standalone–one that you can pick right up and thoroughly enjoy it without being lost by not having read the first book–and A Better World exceeds that expectation with carefully crafted inserts of back story that fit in perfectly with the story.
A domestic terrorist cell calling themselves the Children of Darwin shuts down three cities after burning alive truck drivers making crucial food deliveries, crippling the populations within a matter of days. Following scientist Dr. Ethan Park in one of the cities, we get a gripping look at how desperate the situation gets as he tries to protect and feed his wife and infant daughter as they try to escape the lockdown and the government agents who seem to be looking for him.
Marcus Sakey does a great job of creating a world on the brink of collapse and driving it steadily forward until it snaps, one event piling up on top of another until it collapses under the strain of bad decisions from all sides. In this case, you have ex-Department of Analysis and Response Agent Nick Cooper who is now a reluctant adviser to the president of the United States on one side while the head of the New Canaan Holdfast–a haven for Brilliants and their families in the Wyoming desert–and the terrorist Brilliant John Smith who’s been exonerated in the eyes of the law and the public who is always scheming twenty steps ahead.
Erik Epstein is the richest man in the world and only wants to live without any outside interference in his Wyoming stronghold while his scientists continue to develop unspeakably advanced technologies and medical breakthroughs. John Smith’s singular goal is for Brilliants to rule the world, and he’ll stop at nothing and no one will get in his way until he gets exactly what he wants. Cooper is left playing mediator, trying to talk the president into letting him handle the situation between these seemingly opposite Brilliant factions while his other advisors want nothing more than to stamp out the problem with mandatory tracking device implants and interment camps.
Cooper is a genuine good guy who makes the choices that are right, but in this kind of world, the moral decisions don’t lead to peace on all sides. And he has a hard time coming to grips with those decisions that he’s made, especially when he’s now faced with the consequences and the country so blatantly going to hell right in front of him. I really enjoyed the time that he spends with his ex-wife and kids in this book, and it just reinforces how much of a good guy he really is. But he’s a fighter and he’s not afraid to meet everyone head on, and there’s plenty of action and fighting toward the end of this book.
I give A Better World a four out of five. With believably flawed and realistic characters that are multidimensional, the pages flew by quickly for me as Cooper struggled to put together the pieces of who was behind the Children of Darwin attacks. It’s always fascinating to see what kind of new Brilliants that Marcus Sakey comes up with, and John Smith’s old friend has one of the most intriguing and unstoppable gifts possible. This book is a great example of what could happen to bring the country to the brink of civil war and tip it right over the edge, and the author made the journey thoroughly enjoyable and well-paced the entire ride. While the book ended on a cliffhanger with several questions hanging unanswered, I was satisfied and eagerly await book three.
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