I’m a sucker for sci-fi/fantasy that takes our normal world, gives it one tiny twist, then explores how that twist changes everything. Marcus Sakey’s Brilliance Trilogy does just that. And it’s some of the best fiction I’ve read (or listened to) in a long time.
The premise is cool: in the 80s kids started to be born “brilliant”, with gifts that nobody could explain. Not flying or lasers coming from their eyes. Less flashy things, like the ability to recognize patterns, read body language, or experience time differently. It’s a world very much like our own, but that one small twist that makes a huge difference.
Nick Cooper is an agent for a branch of the US Government responsible for policing these “brilliants”. He’s a top-notch agent, and a brilliant himself. His power? He instinctively sees patterns, in everything from data to body language.
The action and tension are great, but what really grabbed me were the characters. They’re incredibly relatable, and they make you laugh, make you curse their names, and break your heart.
I listened to the audiobook version, and it’s worth noting that the narrator, Luke Daniels, is a wizard (and I don’t just say that because he portrays several wizards in the Off to Be the Wizard books, which are hilarious, and you should totally listen to them). There’s a wide variety of voices in this book, and he manages to get them all across without any confusion about who’s who. I actually found this series because I listened to Off to Be the Wizard, then looked up other books he’d narrated.
Do yourself a favor and go read (or listen to) all 3 books.