A group of sorcerers finds that they are crucial to humanity’s survival in this ambitious young-adult fantasy.
Teen author K. Dai’s young-adult fantasy, Clarity, sets four teenagers on a quest to find and defeat a dangerous dark wizard from a faraway realm.
The only thing that Alix, Dent, Torre, and Jase have in common is that they are high schoolers in San Diego. Or so they thought. The arrival of a wolf shapeshifter sends them all spinning; they learn that they are sorcerers, destined to become the fifth generation of the Four Hearts Club, a magical society meant to defeat dark sorcerer Jack Phillius and save the world in the process. The question of whether they will be able to pull themselves together in time looms.
The plot has exciting elements but does not work to capture attention. Early portions of the book are given to introducing the main characters, but they are still underdeveloped. Nothing significant happens until around the thirty-page mark. Genre clichés pile up, such as orphaned Alix’s multicolored eyes and love-at-first-sight connection with Dent.
The plot moves too quickly, with too many elements at play for it to emotionally resonate. The four leads narrate the story, declaring their thoughts and feelings, though these features are not otherwise shown on the page.
Major developments, such as when the team learns what their mission is, are not met with believable reactions, like cursory fear or doubt. It is a life-threatening quest, but aside from their initial surprise, that gravity is not well imparted. The causes of Phillius’s villainy are never truly explained, nor is the significance of defeating him.
Character reactions and thought processes are stilted and unrealistic, as when two of the children see another presumably dying; they simply “shrug” because “there is nothing they can do.” There are inconsistencies as well, as with the only disabled character, Dent, who often forgets that he cannot speak despite having been without the ability for his entire life.
Abuse is glossed over. Jase outs a gay friend, who is hit as a result; these events are normalized within the story. In Alix’s case, self-defense quickly becomes manslaughter, with hardly any emotional response from her after the fact. Persistent issues with grammar, punctuation, and syntax result in confusing reading, though these problems lessen in the second half of the novel.
Clarity is an ambitious young-adult fantasy with a fascinating premise, if it falls short on execution.
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