Clarity by Kim Harrington; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: Clarity

Author: Kim Harrington

Published: March 1st, 2011

Number of Pages: 256

Rating: 4/5


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? [From Goodreads]


Excitement in Eastport? Nay! But I had time to snoop around Nancy Drew style.


I haven’t read many books like Clarity, which is difficult to believe. The synopsis alone tells you there’s a love triangle (one boy is blond, the other has that dark-hair, dark-skinned look. Neither description is shocking), a girl with a potentially dysfunctional family, and a paranormal element. One could immediately assume this book complies with just about every trend/stereotype in young adult literature. I don’t have too much against that idea, personally. They trend because they’re fun and entertaining – two adjectives I’m rather fond of.

The feature that sets Clarity apart is the mystery. Mystery is not the most prevalent subgenre in YA (from what I’ve seen, at least). Certainly all books have a bit of it because they have to have suspense, but most don’t focus on it. Clarity does, and it emphasizes those fun and entertaining adjectives I mentioned earlier. Clarity’s mystery is executed beautifully. Kim Harrington begins the book with the climax, then jumps back nine days. She pretty much gave the reader a tantalizing nibble of a delicious slice of cheesecake and then swiped it away, saying, “Read 240 more pages and I’ll let you eat the rest.”

About mid-way through the book, I was certain I could predict the end. Then, I switched one character out for another. And another. And another. There were multiple possibilities and every single one seemed like a probability at some point along the way. I love that my final guess was wrong! Just as it should be. Harrington kept me on my toes and still managed to outsmart me.

Clarity is one of my favorite protagonists ever. She’s witty and clever and is great at insulting people. GO CLARE! My favorite people are those who can engage in a good argument or “teasing match.” She and I would complement each other beautifully, I think. It really is too bad we’ll never be able to argue with one another. (I also think she’d get along great with Paranormalcy’s Evie.) Clare certainly has her weaknesses, prejudices, and silly tendencies, but she realizes a few of them along the way – the first step toward becoming a better person. I could read a dozen books from her perspective and am definitely looking forward to a sequel!

The main reason I was initially interested in Clarity was a comment made by Andye in her review. She said that though she knew she should be rooting for the “smoldering young detective,” she preferred the cheating ex-boyfriend.

Unsurprisingly, I was curious.

I could go on and on about the pros and cons of both, um, candidates, but suffice it to say that neither struck me as very original, personality-wise. I’ll be interested in seeing how their characters develop in future books. (I can’t even say much more without giving something away!) Justin (the ex) is evidently a pretty decent guy, despite Clare’s assertions to the contrary, while Gabriel appears shadier and alluring. Both appearances are generally attractive to the YA audience (admit it), and Harrington does a great job of creating these two crowd-pleasing guys.

The two most unique and enjoyable aspects of the novel are the mystery and voice. I read the book in one afternoon. The 250 pages pass in a flash. It’s so much fun to feel supported by an adept author. I could let the story carry me, like the current of a river, along a natural and organic path. Clare’s voice gave the story buoyancy, and the mystery gave it a strong current. I have no doubt that many other readers will be pleased by the enthralling ride that is Clarity.

2 Commentsto “Clarity by Kim Harrington; Review”

  1. I think I was put off by the summary, I thought it would be cliched and it really reminded me of All Unquiet Things 😮 Seems like it's really different though, especially the way you described Clare, she seems like a character I definitely want to meet. great review!

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