The United States is in shambles and it’s all the fault of those dirty “brilliants”. Or so goes the thinking of the “normal” population, including what’s left of the U.S. government. Nick Cooper is wanted by his former law enforcement colleagues because it looks like he sided with the brilliants. Well, he is one of them, after all.
Confused? You won’t be if you’ve read the previous installments in this series, Brilliance and A Better World. Which you should. They’re pretty good. Quickly: some 30 years ago, children began exhibiting unusual traits and abilities: in intellect, in musicianship, in physical attributes, and even psychic abilities. These children became known as “brilliants”. As this first generation of brilliants grew up and the extent of their attributes became known, mainstream society began to fear them. Eventually, young brilliants were taken from their families and placed into special schools, away from the “normals”. Problem solved, yes? Of course not. The schools were a step above hellholes; brilliants rebelled; an underground leader of the brilliant movement emerged; and now the United States is two steps away from nuking its own people.
This series works on a couple of levels: on the surface, it’s your standard thriller about a devious mastermind with a plot to take over the world and the hero/anti-hero who risks life, limb, and family in an effort to stop him. And it works as the story of how society regards the “other”, those who are different, those who threaten the status quo and our own self-image. Put any minority population in the place of the brilliants and you have an excellent — if exaggerated — story of racism or homophobia as public policy.
All in all, a satisfying and somewhat open-ended conclusion to the trilogy.