Brilliance Rothdas book review RSS
3.4 Stars

A fast paced and competently written action novel about a version of the modern world where a small percentage of people have developed super powers. Think James Bond or Tom Clancy but with powers. The powers aren't explicitly super powers in that they all have a natural explanation and are based around the idea of superior brain functioning in one particular area (e.g. a super-human ability to read markets, or to read micro-facial expressions, or to handle strategy and tactics, or to do science, etc. etc.). Functionally though it works out to about the same thing as super powers. Overall I liked the book! My enjoyment was hip-checked at several points though because this novel overlaps with other, similar works that I was exposed to earlier. The largest instance of this was a cheesy but ultimately lovable SyFy show called _Alphas_, which was released ~2 years before this novel (I suspect both Alphas and Brilliance draws on Heroes and other shared progenitors, rather than one was explicitly copying the other). In any case, there is a huge amount of plot and setting overlap between Alphas and Brilliance, so much so that I could not tell if one was the novelization/TV adaptation of the other until about 300 pages in where the plots finally start to diverge. A second and more minor collision happens with the works of Carre. There is a fair amount of spy craft in Brilliance, but it is not necessarily that competent. E.g. If Smiley was working in the DAR, the story would have ended much more abruptly, as there are multiple Carre stories where the sorts of beginner tactics found in Brilliance are used to trap wayward agents. And in general, there are parts of the plot that don't make *that* much sense if you stop to think about them.

So! Despite all of those semi-criticisms, I certainly did read the book quickly enough. I read the last 80% of it in one night, which means that at some level I must have liked the book. Part of that was the 20 degree weather outside, which encourages huddling up around a book, but the author deserves credit too. The author isn't a beautiful writer like Vandermeer, but he does churn out consistently readable and interesting action adventure pages. I'm looking forward to what he does in the second book, and if he can take the series in more original directions now that it is diverging a bit more from Alphas and similar works.