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Marcus Sakey writes triumphant second installment to 'Brilliance' saga

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A Better World by Marcus Sakey (Thomas & Mercer)

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The saga that Marcus Sakey started with Brilliance has taken an even more sinister turn in the second installment, A Better World. That's hard to believe, seeing as when we last caught up with our protagonist hero, Agent Nick Cooper, he was throwing a man from the roof of a skyscraper. Cooper has left the Department of Analysis and Response while doing more than merely associating with fellow abnorm and terrorist Shannon Azzi, lieutenant of abnorm wannabe revolutionary John Smith.

Because President Lionel Clay appreciates honesty, even when lying may be for the greater good. With this in mind, Cooper is exactly the kind of man he needs. He's someone that will tell it as he sees it and pull no punches. This quality makes him an effective special agent but a horrible politician. President Walker, who orchestrated the murder of 73 people in order to frame Smith, has been exposed and disgraced. Smith not only is still breathing, but has been absolved of the charges, both in direct result of Cooper's help. Even so, his hands are far from clean.

Saving and acquitting Smith may have been the morally right thing to do, as he was innocent of those murders, but Cooper is starting to see that maybe he should have killed the man when he had the chance. Smith's fingerprints are all over the systematic shutdown and eventual quarantines of three major American cities. The president puts them under martial law with no better alternatives available. One of the men in quarantine is Dr. Ethan Park, a man who may know how people are born with abilities. This is knowledge that Smith, billionaire special Erik Epstein, and the government are all racing to acquire. Park goes on the run but it's only a matter of time before someone gets the information out of him.

A Better World reads like a more gut-punching “X-Men” story told from a different perspective. Normal humans and brilliants each expediting the countdown to civil war, communities and families torn apart. Full of moments that will leave you gasping, Marcus Sakey has done it again.

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