A Decent Finish ? – 3.5
Written in Fire marks the conclusion of the Brilliance Trilogy. Overall, the series was creative and an excellent spin on the “superheroes among us” genre. When I read the concluding story to any series, I expect it to go out with a bang. It needs to wrap up the major issues with a great climax and either close off the universe or leave it open for more. Written in Fire has left room for more stories within this universe and has plenty of big bangs but in the most important areas, the bangs were too often squeaks.
The story continues in the world inhabited by “normals and brilliants” as conceived by Marcus Sakey originally of Flint, Michigan. If you have seen the news lately (lead laced water scandal) its nice to have something positive with a connection to this downtrodden city.
Nick Cooper, former government agent and tier 1 brilliant, continues his quest for vengeance and for peace between normals and brilliants. At time where tension between the groups is at an all time high, the world is confronted with a serum that will turn a normal into a brilliant. All of the warring factions want it for their own reason. Unfortunately, the serum is not stable and neither is the serum’s inventor. Nick must seek revenge while confronting the new dangers this serum presents to world.
Written in Fire is a mixed bag. On the positive side, the author has created a compelling world with a truly unique (at least to me) take on the “superpower”. Each gift that a brilliant has seems entirely probable. Gifts occur as a result of advance pattern recognition which have developed as some type of evolutionary step. No one is flying, moving things with their mind or shapeshifting yet these changes in humanity have lead to major advancements in most all areas of study and science. This is the greatest strength of the book and the series. The ability of the author to take something as unbelievable as “superpowers” and to integrate into a reality that requires little suspension of disbelief, is itself superhuman. I enjoy science fiction that feels like it would be possible. If you feel the same, you are likely to enjoy this series.
In addition to the great setup, the author did a great job of weaving the underlying, sinister plan from beginning to end. The reader is lead down the path of obfuscation and misdirection and is none the wiser. I thought the underlying plot was very well crafted and never left me feelings cheated or disappointed. On this front, the author receives high marks for wrapping up the various scheming and conniving.
So why did I feel some disappointment with the concluding volume. Were this the second book in the series, I would have been more generous with my rating. While I was content in the completion of the storylines, there were several confrontations that were destined to occur. The first two books set a high expectation for these final collisions. Instead of a violent crash, we were given a fender bender. While much of the series has been quite inspired, the character resolutions were not. While the plot was strong, character and emotional resolutions need improvement. Leave me happy or angry with resolution but don’t leave me feeling ripped off. Had these necessary collisions been more fulfilling, the novel may have been the best of the bunch.
Can this Novel Stand Alone Not a chance. While the novel does an admirable job of bringing you back up to speed, there is a sea of history you will need to appreciate the finale.
Overall, this series is well worth your time. If you have read the first two, you will not want to miss the conclusion. The strength of the Brilliance universe and strength of plot redeems the novel’s missteps. While I am disappointed for what was not, I enjoyed what was. As an added bonus, the ending leaves open the possibility that we may see future novels within this world. I for one, would welcome more.
It is difficult to find commentary on the sex/violence/language content of book if you are interested. I make an effort to give you the information so you can make an informed decision before reading. *Disclaimer* I do not take note or count the occurrences of adult language as I read. I am simply giving approximations.
Scale 1 – Lowest 5 – Highest
Sex – 2
There were a couple of sexual encounters but they were quite tame. They were of the variety that cut away from scene before the real action begins.
F-words – 5 instances Mild Profanity – 41 instances Religious exclamations – 11 instances
Violence – 3.5
There is violence throughout the story. The story is essentially that of a war. There is lots of shoot and lots of dead bodies. While this accounts for much of the violence, it tends to avoid graphic descriptions. There are some scenes of torture which are moderate graphic but short.