Tina S Beier
The Brightest Fell (Book Review)
Updated: Jan 6, 2020
by Nupur Chowdhury
I received a copy of this novel from the author in exchange for a fair review!
A very solid, exciting, entertaining political thriller. A solid 4.5/5! You can find it on Amazon.
The premise is as follows: Jehan Fasih, a scientist prodigy, creates a drug that induces compliance in the user. Powerful men and women in the government wish to obtain it, in order to use it to cement their grip on said power. The story follows the aftermath of Jehan’s decision to throw his mentor under the bus, and how this spurs the mentor’s two children to seek revenge. Or perhaps not.
I don’t tend to read political thrillers, but I enjoyed the hell out of this one. And I was especially drawn to a location that wasn’t the U.S., as reading more broadly is a goal of mine. Whether the political set-up in the novel was fictional or based on reality, I wasn’t sure, but if it was the former, she designed it in a way that seems realistic. There’s almost no science fiction in this book, other than the creation of the drug. I would consider it closer to speculative fiction.
The best thing about this novel is that it doesn’t read like a “self-published” book. Please don’t think I’m trying to be condescending! As a writer myself, getting a book published the traditional way is frustrating and success seems to be based on luck or connections (even with academic accolades!). As such, I’ve been seeing more and more self-published books lately that truly deserve to be in hardcover, as they are free of the syntactical errors, stilted dialogue, and editorial mishaps I've run into many times with self-published books. This book is finely tuned and a testament that self-publishing is a viable route.
The characters are fun. It starts off with a lot of men but quickly brings in interesting female characters (which I require in a novel, with few exceptions) and queer representation as well. While the characters could have been treated to a little more backstory (why were the siblings so close? Why are the power-hungry people such sociopaths?) it might have bogged down the story. I also could have used more conflict within Abhi regarding Jehan.
One thing that threw me off a little was the jumps in time. While it’s very clearly marked at the start of a section that it takes place weeks or months later, I had trouble orienting myself that much time had passed, as the characters hadn’t changed in said time. The time passing didn’t seem to have any bearing on the story.
I did enjoy all the twists and turns of the plot – I was never sure what Jehan was up to, nor who was allied with him or not. What I liked best was how there was no hyperbolic “save the world” moment that often appears in political thrillers. This was a drama isolated to the upper echelons of the government for the most part, but with real repercussions for those in the regular population.
Overall, it’s a tightly-wrought, quick-moving political thriller that addresses corruption in a way that is poignant as well as entertaining.