Author: Marcus Sakey
Performed by Luke Daniels
Released: On Audible June 2014 by Brilliance Audio
'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.'
The second book in the Brilliance saga picks up shortly after the conclusion of the first, throwing the reader/listener straight into the ongoing conspiracy and opening with a chilling scenario….
'When the pain was finally done, he collapsed. His thoughts were slippery and he struggled to process what had just happened. The ground was cold. And moving. No, he was moving, being dragged. His hands were behind him and something held them together.
Then liquid splashed his face. The cold made him gasp and he sucked some of the fluid into his mouth. It was foul. A pungent chemical presence he’d never tasted but had smelled a thousand times, and that was when panic swept out the last vestiges of pain, because he was handcuffed on the side of the road and someone was pouring gasoline on him.
“Oh God, please, please, don’t, please don’t -”'
Chapter one begins three weeks before that terrible incident. Tension and suspense build again gradually and consistently as we meet old and new characters. The most notable of the latter is Dr Ethan Park who, along with Abe Cousen and their team, have made an unimaginable discovery.
Nick Cooper continues to fascinate as the strong and utterly determined main protagonist, complex and extremely resourceful, and although he doubts the wisdom of his previous actions based on their outcome he is still, now more than ever, committed to sorting through the backlash, figuring out what is going on and preventing a national catastrophe.
There’s so much incredible depth and detail to this and the previous story I was glad to have the recap of events from Brilliance woven into A Better Story and in such a way that it wasn’t a straight rehash. The tension between ‘normals’ and ‘brilliants’ is escalating and a terrorist group, The Children of Darwin, are set on provoking a war. It’s quite harrowing listening to accounts of the devastation as America goes crazy and cities are taken over and their populations left without food and utilities.
The writing, gripping story telling and alternate reality world building are exceptional as are the well-developed and believable characters. I enjoyed the interspersed flashes of newscasts and ads, I especially like the personal ones, as they continue, in a fantastic way, to update the narrative. There are some unexpected, moving and breathtaking twists in what is an excellent second instalment.
At the risk of repeating myself, and I probably will do again more than once because Luke Daniels’ performances are so consistently outstanding. I’ve listened to a lot of his narrations in all sorts of genres with an equally vast array of characters and he handles each one with ease and individuality.