A Better World
The Brilliance Trilogy by Marcus Sakey
Review: Former Department of Analysis and Response agent Nick Cooper enters the President's inner circle as an advisor to help stop an organization from starting a civil war in A Better World, the second book in this series of thrillers by Marcus Sakey.
Lionel Clay, who has only been the President for a few months following the resignation of his predecessor, is trying to prevent a group of abnorms known as the Children of Darwin from creating the conditions for war. They are already credited with effectively shutting down three cities: Tulsa, Fresno, and Cleveland. Abnorms, or brilliants, are people born with extraordinary gifts, a group that has been marginalized by the population as large, and in particular by politicians, who want to tag them and monitor their activities. The Children of Darwin believe that the only way to protect their own is to resist, by whatever means available to them. Cooper, an abnorm himself, can identify with both sides but to date has been on the side of law and order. Until he brought down a President. Which is why President Clay's offer of a position as an advisor to an office he helped expose is so unexpected and unusual. But the question on the table is one that Cooper cannot resist. Can a single man do what the most powerful government in the world cannot — prevent a civil war?
It seems inconceivable that anyone would read A Better World without having read Brilliance, the first book in this series. And it seems the author might have thought so as well, but was forced to drop in a sentence here and there (and pretty much everywhere) after completing this entry to give background to the handful of people, who might have started this one having skipped the first book. It doesn't really help, and does more to disrupt the flow of the story than to help explain the origin of what is happening now. But that isn't the real problem here; that is there isn't much of a story to tell. Very little of consequence happens for the first 200 or so pages, and what does happen in the final 200 pages is incomplete. Whereas one could read and enjoy Brilliance as a stand-alone novel (despite a few but necessary plot threads left untied at the end to ensure a sequel), the same cannot be said here. This is clearly a middle-book of a series, trying to set the stage for the third and (presumably) final book of the saga by ramping up the action and suspense and then just ending. Which might be okay except that it doesn't really add anything new that wasn't known before. Cooper's character is essentially the same in the two books, his actions — and what happens to him — is essentially identical to what happened before. It's not so much predictable as it is repetitive. What is new is a parallel story involving Ethan Park, a scientist with the Advanced Genomics Institute, who is on the run after a colleague disappears. Ethan eventually meets up with Cooper, and the book concludes on this note:
Then he looked at the scientist. "You and me, Doc?" Cooper smiled. "We're going to go save the world."
A Better World has some good moments, but it is basically a bridge between two points and not a novel that can stand on its own.
Acknowledgment: Thomas & Mercer provided an eARC of A Better World for this review.
Review Copyright © 2014 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Thomas & Mercer (Trade Paperback), July 2013
ISBN-13: 9781611099690; ISBN-10: 1611099692
Written in Fire
Thomas & Mercer (Trade Paperback), January 2016
ISBN-13: 9781477827642; ISBN-10: 1477827641
Location(s) referenced in A Better World: Cleveland, Ohio; Washington DC
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A Better World by Marcus Sakey — The Brilliance Trilogy
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: June 2014
List Price: $14.95
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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