Review: Clarity by Kim Harrington (@Scholastic)

Received from Scholastic for review purposes.

I’ve had Clarity by Kim Harrington sitting on my shelf for a few months now. Scholastic was awesome and sent it to me, along with its sequel, Perception, very shortly after I started blogging. While I was intrigued by the summary and the covers are gorgeous*, I hadn’t gotten around to reading them yet. I like mysteries, but I need to be in the right mindset. However, I finally got “there” recently, and read them both back-to-back.

It was a lot of fun.

The Plot

Clarity “Clare” Fern has always been different. She is a psychic, and through touch, she can sometimes pick up on memories associated with objects. Her gift wasn’t a big shock – her mother is a telepath (can read people’s thoughts), and her brother Periwinkle, “Perry”, is a medium (can speak to  the dead). Their supernatural gifts are just something inherited through their genes, and they use them to make a living in the family business: doing “readings” in the tourist town of Eastport, Massachusetts.

Clare has always been a bit of an outcast because of her gift, but one day she gets thrust into the spotlight when a teenage tourist is killed, and the police reluctantly enlist her help to solve the crime. Now Clare finds herself at the center of a mysterious and dangerous web of secrets, while forced to work alongside her ex-boyfriend, Justin, and Gabriel, the skeptical son of the new town detective.

My Thoughts

Clarity was kind of like Veronica Mars, if Veronica was raised by her mom instead of her dad, wasn’t actually a trained detective, and was psychic. Which kind of sounds not at all like Veronica Mars, but just bear with me here. They’re both social outcasts, sassy and sarcastic, and solve crimes by tying lots of seemingly insignificant details together (although Veronica uses her razor-sharp intelligence to do this, while Clare mostly uses her psychic powers). And although both have significant trouble fitting in at school, they seem to have absolutely no problems getting all the town’s most eligible bachelors to go gaga over them.

So that said, this book appealed to the part of me that loves (loves) Veronica Mars. I enjoy reading about a sassy teen girl solving crimes, and I even enjoy the far-fetched lovey-dovey angst (normally I am heavily anti-love-triangle, but I felt like it worked in this book, even though I still fail to see how the town outcast gets all the most desirable boys in town swooning over her).

I liked how the mystery was presented. Clues were dropped throughout the narrative, making it possible (but difficult) for me to guess who the killer was, and what their motives were. I had it narrowed down to a couple options by the time the book hit its culmination, and while I can smugly say “I was right,” I was also wrong. And I definitely changed my mind a few times throughout the course of the story. I felt like the story had great pacing and the momentum built nicely all the way through to the climax. And while the ending was certainly open to sequels, it was satisfying.

The characters were enjoyable, and I liked how most of them actually served a purpose. There were very few filler characters, which means if someone was mentioned, it was relevant (at least in a minor way). I really enjoyed Clare’s brother Perry, as well as her mom, even though both characters had major flaws. And although there was a love triangle, it wasn’t terrible, and you could actually see why she would be conflicted over these two guys (as opposed to many books where one choice is obviously wrong).

There were parts of the plot that were far-fetched. For some reason, although Clare can’t seem to make friends to save her life because of her psychic ability, her brother (the medium) is described as being popular. There were times when the police allowed her and her family to do things and go places that I don’t think would ever be allowed by the real police. And as far as I know, “son of a detective” isn’t actually anything, and would not entitle Gabriel to any rights or privileges whatsoever in real life; but in the book, he seems to have been practically deputized. So if it’s going to bother you that stuff happens in this book that would not happen in real life (supernatural abilities aside), then you may want to skip this one. A healthy suspension of disbelief is necessary.

However, as far as I’m concerned, Clarity was a fun, exciting, entertaining read that kept me guessing until the end and left me satisfied once it was over. And that’s really all I wanted, so I was happy.

Content guide: Contains violence, some talk of sex, and occasional profanity

*Disclaimer: The original cover art for Clarity, which is what I have, is actually this. But I’ve shown the updated cover on this post, because it matches the sequel cover art, and because I think it matches the story better.