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.

About Kasey

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