Review: On a Clear Day by Walter Dean Myers

On a Clear Day by Walter Dean MyersOn a Clear Day
Walter Dean Myers
Crown Books for Young Readers
Published: September 23, 2014

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Since her mother’s death, Dahlia has simply survived. On her own in a rundown apartment, she waits for a way to make her life mean more. Then two boys offer her a chance to make a difference. She joins other teen prodigies in brainstorming a strategy to take down C-8, a group of corporations that have the world in a stranglehold. But just as Dahlia and her team stumble onto something big, a big-shot terrorist comes to town. The team knows he must be stopped, but taking him on might simply be playing into the bigger plans of C-8.

I requested an ARC for this book via NetGalley but didn’t get it. Based on the description posted there and on Goodreads, I thought this story would be more like X-Men teens meets The Net (1995, Sandra Bullock, etc.) Now that I’ve read the story, I get where the blurb was going, but I’m not sure it’s the best representation of the tale itself. I wonder if revealing the fact that the narrator is a girl was thought to be off-putting to potential male readership? Pure speculation.

What I liked about the story was that it pulled a lot of different elements together. The cast of characters shows a lot of racial diversity and delivers it with authenticity. In the same way, the team Dahlia joins also shows a lot of intellectual diversity, showcasing different areas of expertise and how they bring a unique perspective to each problem the group faces. To me this also echoed the same message of value and equality about the characters’ ethnic backgrounds: we all bring value. We may not agree on things, but in order to succeed at saving the world, we have to work together and trust each other.

I expected a lot of fast-paced action and suspense, and there was definitely tension building as the story unfolded, but this is more about unique teens dialoguing together over a plan to stop the bad guys from running the show. They do make progress, but not in the ways they necessarily expected, and ultimately, they don’t accomplish their goal. I think I would have liked this book more if there had been a stronger forward push carrying the story along. The group assembles with a vague goal in mind, which keeps things a bit wishy-washy until well into the tale.

This is the first book by Myers that I’ve read, and most of the reviews I skimmed through recommend his other books over this one. Monster has been on my list for a long time, so it’s possible I’ll give that one a read and reevaluate this story again.

Language Content
Strong profanity used with moderate frequency.

Sexual Content
One reference to a man putting his hand between a waitress’s legs. It’s inappropriate and another man calls him out for it.

Spiritual Content
A priest oversees a funeral. Hard times have fallen on humanity and many have died from lost hope. Dahlia makes a comment about having craved her own death before out of a simple desire to “move to the next plane” of existence.

Groups of vigilantes and terrorists wreak havoc on the population. Dahlia’s team goes head to head with a terrorist group, exchanging fire with them. Resulting deaths and injuries are briefly described. Some soldiers are children. In one instance, a boy is caught in razor wire. Dahlia and her friends watch helplessly as the wire kills him.

Drug Content
A girl in her early twenties drinks a glass of white wine at a café. At a meeting with gang leaders, someone passes marijuana to Dahlia, who refuses to smoke it. Then a woman uses a needle to inject drugs in front of Dahlia.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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