Verdict: An inspirational story about the Hollywood of the future and a real-life inter-galactic adventure that suffers from a garbled narrative structure, but is ultimately redeemed by its relentless positivity and intriguing characters.
BRILLIANT by Rick Lakin is almost two stories in one. The first tells the tale of Jennifer, a young girl with a remarkable eidetic memory and impressive skill in science and the humanities, looking to solve the mystery of her father’s death. The is about a spaceship that accidentally time-travels to our future and does battle with an alien ship. To further complicate matters, the book is written in a non-linear way, jumping around in time and space.
Interestingly, the more compelling of the two stories is the one that takes place on Earth in the year 2067. Lakin envisions an interesting place that technology has changed, but not in a way that makes it unrecognizable. Jennifer navigates school, career aspirations, and the lingering question about her parentage. The reader is taken backwards and forwards in time to learn about other characters, most specifically how the titular space cruiser found itself in our universe. Jumping around in time and space disrupts the narrative, because as soon as the reader gets sucked into one of the threads, it switches. The interpersonal interactions, especially between the virtual characters on Earth, are interesting. The world that Lakin built in 2067 is also a lot of fun. However, it seems like author doesn’t have confidence in these stories’ ability to hold readers’ interests for long, thus the jumbled narrative.
Despite this, the book is a lot of fun to read. Jennifer, her friend Tyla, and the other supporting characters are all intriguing. They are flawed, real characters which provide a nice contrast to Jennifer, whose “superpower” is both her greatest strength and greatest flaw. It would have been interesting to see her struggle with reliving bad memories or fears in perfect detail, but the overall positive tone of the book doesn’t really allow for that. Perhaps if the series continues, the downside of Jennifer’s abilities can be explored in more detail.
What Lakin is able to pull off in this book is giving a character a kind of unbeatable superpower, without making the story uninteresting or killing the stakes. An enjoyable book for sci-fi fans of all ages and genders, BRILLIANT would be especially good for younger female readers. A character like Jennifer could serve as an inspiration for little girls (and boys, too) as a hero.
An inspirational story about the Hollywood of the future and a real-life inter-galactic adventure that suffers from a garbled narrative structure, BRILLIANT is ultimately redeemed by its relentless positivity and intriguing characters.
~Joshua M. Patton for IndieReader