Friday, February 18, 2011

Review: Clarity by Kim Harrington


When you can see things others can't, where do you look for the truth?

This paranormal murder mystery will have teens reading on the edge of their seats.

Clarity "Clare" Fern sees things. Things no one else can see. Things like stolen kisses and long-buried secrets. All she has to do is touch a certain object, and the visions come to her. It's a gift.

And a curse.

When a teenage girl is found murdered, Clare's ex-boyfriend wants her to help solve the case--but Clare is still furious at the cheating jerk. Then Clare's brother--who has supernatural gifts of his own--becomes the prime suspect, and Clare can no longer look away. Teaming up with Gabriel, the smoldering son of the new detective, Clare must venture into the depths of fear, revenge, and lust in order to track the killer. But will her sight fail her just when she needs it most?


The Short Version:
Engaging from the start, well plotted and intricate, and centered around phenomenally built characters, Clarity is a fantastic murder mystery with just the right amount of paranormal mixed in. A large cast of characters gives many suspects, and the constant reveals and twists shift the spotlight often. The pacing is spot on, the writing vibrant, and the finale bold and memorable. With a strong, well rounded protagonist, and defined confines for the psychic aspect, Clarity blends contemporary and paranormal in a stunning way.

The Extended Version:
Clare (nicknamed from Clarity) is snarky and sassy, able to hold her own and puts up a brave front. But lingering underneath what is a well developed inner strength is a girl who wants friends, love and connection. She doesn’t dwell on this, doesn’t constantly focus on it, but its there and comes out at just the right moment to really pull the reader towards her. Her witty remarks and internal commentary really bring out her character and build her voice as something distinct and all her own.

Within the town of Cape Cod, Clare’s family is ridiculed and outcast. Their psychic abilities are considered a sham, particularly since the family business is to give readings to tourists. Each with a different specific ability, Clare, her brother and her mom have an inherent bond that Harrington builds and brings up seamlessly. Clare is bullied at school, a target in general and overall, very alone apart from her brother and his best friend. There is a very clear line between her relationship with her brother and everyone else, yet that yearning for more is palpable. She goes through some tremendous personal growth and change, facing some very mature situations and handling it as best she can. She stumbles some, and loses her cool, but overall she maintains a solid air and presses on. There are moments of weakness and of boldness, and Clare is a very realistic, relatable, and likable character.

Perry, Clare’s brother, is a womanizer but not a total jerk, and her best friend. The interactions between these two really brought out the best in both, but also the worst. The change in Perry, however, after being suspected of the murder, was rapid, understandable, and heartbreaking. Constantly, the evidence for and against him came up, alternating the reader’s opinion on whether it was him. Two sides of logic battle, leaving that possibility in the air no matter what dominant thought there was. Perry is very devoted to his sister, and this is a character I completely adored. His mistakes are so understandable, so easy to side with, but the overtones of if he killed someone skew things just right.

Gabriel is also an extremely interesting, well handled character. While he is smoldering, Clare doesn’t become an instant idiot in his presence nor does she fall right into his arms. She holds her ground, keeps her head high, and doesn’t give right in to a guy who thinks the psychic part of her is a fraud no matter how hot he is. He has his own past and secrets he’s harboring, which come out at the ideal moment. He is as dimensional and fleshed out as Clare and Perry, and helps drive a strong part of the plot.

Closing out the bigger side characters is Clare’s mom, who has a large role and completes this well done family unit. Her love for her children is clear, despite her faults, and while there is friction between Clare and her mother, their relationship is very realistic and handled very honestly. Justin is Clare’s ex-boyfriend who also plays a surprising role, and is another character readers will fall for, feel for, and want to know more about. Stephen, too, plays his part, showing up at just the right moments and helping to build the overall nature of Clare’s life before the murder. While he hasn’t outright bullied her, he’s never stood up for her either and watching these two toe that line as things get tenser with the murder investigation added another very real component.

Adding to the overall great air of this book is the title. It has a few well planned out meanings, from being the name of the main character, to holding hints to the clairvoyance aspect, to also aiming at the clarity that comes with truly seeing people in new lights. From her new view of her brother and those around her as she unearths some shocking secrets, to realizing the harsher side of life, Clare has to face some very rough things in this book, but her final mental state and thought processes reflect that in a fantastic way.

This plot is very in depth, very intricate, and perfectly played out. The mystery aspect is on par, giving clues at a steady pace but each leading in different direction. There is a constant shift in the spotlight for who might be the murderer, made worse as things heat up and progress. With plenty of completely unexpected twists and jaw dropping turns, not to mention some perfectly ended chapters that will keep the pages turning and the reader on the edge of their seat, Clarity comes to a fantastic climax and reveals the murderer at a key point. The wind down from the climax is quick, wrapping most everything up with this book while still giving a few hints for a next installment. There are some lingering things to muse over, but Harrington has truly left this book in a good place to be a standalone.

There is a strong contemporary element to this story, from the very realistic and phenomenally done characters, to the uproar of the murder, to the setting itself. Harrington blends in her psychic world very well, giving it clear confines and construction. Things aren’t convenient just to suit the purpose of the book. Anything related to the psychic element has a clear course that led to it, and a cause and effect that results from it. Additionally, the word economy of this book is fantastic. While short in page number, it is packed with plot and character development, getting right to the point without flowery description and unneeded focus. This, combined with the overall blend between the contemporary and paranormal aspect, is weaved beautifully, bringing out the best of both worlds and making this something that a range of readers will enjoy.

Source: ARC received for review from publisher in exchange for an honest review
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Point
Publication Date: March 1, 2011


  1. OMFG!!!
    I wonna to read it... No, I need to read it... U_U
    Awesome Review!!...

  2. Okay, so this one sounds amazing!! Awesome review, Kari :)

  3. Great review! I will be pre-ordering this one! :)

  4. That was a really helpful review--I'm excited to read this book, now! :)