Review: Perception by Kim Harrington (@Scholastic)

Received from Scholastic for the purpose of review

Perception, by Kim Harrington, is the sequel to Clarity, which I reviewed (and enjoyed) hereClarity was a quick, fun read, and I jumped right into Perception the moment I put it down, anxious to hear about more of Clare’s psychic mystery-solving shenanigans.

The Plot

Clarity “Clare” Fern, teen psychic, is adjusting to her newfound social acceptance after using her powers to help solve the murder of a teenage tourist over the summer. Her ex-boyfriend, Justin, has made it clear he’d like to start over, and she’s also being pursued by the dark and smoldering new detective’s son, Gabriel. In addition, the girls who previously shunned her at school are now clamoring to be her friends, with the glaring exception of arch-nemesis mean girl, Tiffany.

But as the school year starts, the air is abuzz with gossip about the recent disappearance of a girl no one really knew. Did she run away? Or was she taken?

Meanwhile, Clare starts receiving notes from a secret admirer, and Justin and Gabriel swear it’s neither of them.

Clare decides to dust off her detective skills again: to discover not only what’s happened to the missing girl, but to unveil the identity of her mysterious suitor.

My Thoughts

Much like Clarity, Perception is an exciting, fast-paced teen mystery channeling the essence of Veronica Mars, but with psychic powers. (P.S. If you’ve never watched Veronica Mars, you really, really should).

The love triangle between Clare, Justin, and Gabriel is still a huge part of the story, even moreso than in Clarity, since the secret admirer plot line obviously places a lot of attention on Clare’s love life. I still see why she’s torn between the two of them and why the choice isn’t obvious, but I am happy to report that she does make a decision by the end of the book, and that it makes sense.

Clare was still smart and sassy, although occasionally painfully oblivious. She suffers from severe tunnel vision in some instances and misses some pretty big clues, but overall she was still an enjoyable character. And after all, she’s not really a trained detective, so it actually makes sense that she wasn’t picking up on everything.

Justin and Gabriel didn’t grow a whole lot from the first book. I still liked them both, but didn’t gain a lot of new insight into either of them. Yes, we learn a couple new things, but my opinion on both of them remained pretty much unchanged. It would have been nice to peel back a few more layers. But since I liked them in Clarity, I still liked them here.

The character who changes the most is Clare’s brother, Perry. The events of Clarity hit him the hardest, and it’s sad to see what has become of his character. While on the one hand, he is no longer the flippant womanizer of the first book (which is a bonus, in my eyes), his new personality isn’t much of an improvement. I still like him, in spite of his flaws, but he wasn’t a “fun” character in this book (and he wasn’t supposed to be). I actually really appreciated that the huge developments in Clarity didn’t just roll off his back, and that he needs to take time to process and overcome them.

As for the mysteries, I was a little less satisfied in this book than in the prior one. I felt like the clues were more obvious, and I’d figured out who the bad guy was really early in the story, despite a red herring that practically jumped up and down and screamed, “LOOK AT ME! I’M A RED HERRING!” It was still engaging and entertaining to solve the mystery alongside Clare, but didn’t have the same impact that the first book did, in my opinion.

Overall, I really enjoyed this follow-up to Clarity, and would be interested to continue reading about the mysteries that Clare solves.

Content guide: Contains violence, profanity.

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.