Book Reviews

The Sea of Tranquility by: Katja Millay

I live i16117442[1]n a world without magic or miracles. A place where there are no clairvoyants or shapeshifters, no angels or superhuman boys to save you.  A place where people die and music disintegrates and things suck.  I am pressed so hard against the earth by the weight of reality that some days I wonder how I am still able to lift my feet to walk.

Full of rage and without a purpose, former pianist Nastya Kashnikov wants two things: to get through high school without anyone discovering her past and to make the boy who took everything from her pay.

All 17 year-old Josh Bennett wants is to build furniture and be left alone, and everyone allows it because it’s easier to pretend he doesn’t exist.  When your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space.

Everyone except Nastya, a hot mess of a girl who starts showing up and won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life.  The more he gets to know her, the more of a mystery she becomes.  As their relationship intensifies and the unanswered questions begin to pile up, he starts to wonder if he may ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding or if he even wants to.

The Sea of Tranquility is a slow-building, character-driven romance about a lonely boy, an emotionally fragile girl, and the miracle of second chances.

Please Note:  This book contains mature content including profanity, drug/alcohol use, and sexual situations/language  (Synopsis from Goodreads)

I could not put this book down. When I did put it down, I rushed to get back to it. I had heard some buzz about it since it’s first release in November 2012, but once again just added it to my pile and moved on. But then it seemed to magically appear on my Kindle app from the good people at NetGalley and I couldn’t wait any longer. (Magic in that my request was answered)

As the blurb stated, it’s a book about survival and second chances. The story is written in alternating dual points of view between Nastya and Josh and as a reader you really feel in tune to what they are going through in their lives. Each character brought their own tone to the book. This is a tough book to review because I do not want to give anything away so I am going to change it up and focus on some of the topics that some reviewers did not like and where I disagree.

“The story is slow”.  It is slow building and that means as a reader you have to be patient! Imagine that? You are given nice little cookie crumbs along the way and I appreciated the author spending that time creating rich characters and easing you into the story. I have read way to many books where it’s all thrown out there in the first few chapters and then watch the characters go back and forth making terrible choices. I didn’t want to know the horrific act that Nastya went through right away. I needed to build up to it and getting to know her made me understand her behavior. Thank goodness for a slow building romance as well!  I am fed up with the “tear each other’s clothes off by chapter 3 and let’s see how many kinky scenarios they can get into”.

It’s all descriptive”. I couldn’t believe this comment. Yes, the first 30% of the book has very little dialogue. I can’t tell you why. You are in Nastya’s head most of the time learning about her and her own struggle with identification and where she belongs. She was such a dynamic character. Tough as nails yet vulnerable, snarky and hilarious. I thought her inner dialogue was brutally honest especially dealing with being the “new kid” senior year at high school.  You are also in Josh’s head and boy do I love him! For all that he has been through he is such a kind, patient and funny person. For as much as he thinks he wants to be alone and steer clear of deeper relationships, he ends up being the one who needs saving as well as Nastya. Getting to know their thoughts and feelings was necessary since they were both “loners” in a sense. When the dialogue picked up it was not disappointing and again worth the wait.

“It was not realistic; way too much drama for drama’s sake”. Totally disagree here. I have read numerous books where the story seemed forced and every possible tragedy that you could imagine occurs. One violent and random tragedy happens to Nastya at 15 years old. It’s enough and is a game changer in her life. I felt the aftermath of how she chooses to react to it was honest and believable. Not pretty or what looks good on paper, but real and understandable. The way people treated her at high school? The last time I was in a high school, kids acted that way. There is drug use, profanity, sexual misconduct, cruelty and bullying. There is also friendships, kindness, humor  and memorable moments. She is surviving but to what extent?

“Sometimes it’s easier to pretend nothing is wrong than to face the fact that everything is wrong, but you’re powerless to do anything about it.”

Katja Millay wrote in such a way that had me intrigued from page one. (This is her first book too!) Her character development was outstanding. I loved the relationships these characters had with one another: Nastya, Josh, Drew, Clay, Drew’s mom, Margot. Even if their role was small is was important. Descriptions and feelings dripped off of the pages and at times I would cover up the next few lines so I wouldn’t read ahead. It was very tempting. She touches on many subjects but one that will stay with me and was very poignant was what Josh’s grandfather describes what happens when you die.  And the ending? Seriously, Ms. Millay? In other words…perfect!

“People like to say love is unconditional, but it’s not, and even if it was unconditional, it’s still never free.  They always want something in return.  Like they want you to be happy or whatever and that makes you automatically responsible for their business because they won’t be happy unless you are.  You’re supposed to be who they think you’re supposed to be and feel how they think you’re supposed to feel because they love you and when you can’t give them what they want, they feel shitty, so you feel shitty, and everybody feels shitty.  I just don’t want that responsibility.”

*I was fortunate to receive an advance, uncorrected reader’s proof from NetGalley and was not compensated for this review.

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