Review: The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

Posted December 5, 2013 by Liza in Reviews / 8 Comments

Title: The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
Published:November 13th, 2012 by Atria Books
Format: Audio book narrated by Candace Thaxton and Kirby Heyborne
Genre:Contemporary romance
Group age: Young adult | New adult
Grade rate: A+

I live in 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.
Former piano prodigy Nastya Kashnikov wants two things: to get through high school without anyone learning about her past and to make the boy who took everything from her—her identity, her spirit, her will to live—pay.
Josh Bennett’s story is no secret: every person he loves has been taken from his life until, at seventeen years old, there is no one left. Now all he wants is be left alone and people allow it because when your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space.
Everyone except Nastya, the mysterious new girl at school who starts showing up and won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. But the more he gets to know her, the more of an enigma she becomes. As their relationship intensifies and the unanswered questions begin to pile up, he starts to wonder if he will ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding—or if he even wants to.
The Sea of Tranquility is a rich, intense, and brilliantly imagined story about a lonely boy, an emotionally fragile girl, and the miracle of second chances.

My Review
How shall I explain the utter heartbreaking depth of this book?  How can I make you understand the remarkable writing?  How can I make you see the awesomeness of The Sea of Tranquility?  I’m not sure how, but I’m going to try.
The Sea of Tranquility is the story of two broken people and second chances.  Josh and Nastya are both broken in different ways.  Josh by the unexplainable death of his family and Nastya by a tragic and traumatic event.  They both need mending, they need to make difficult changes, they need help, and in a way, acceptance.  
Nastya has been irrevocably changed by an undeserved attack.  In the aftermath, she doesn’t know how to heal, how to deal with what happens, she loses her identify and goals for the future, so she decides to stop talking.  It is a conscious and difficult to maintain decision that huts a lot of people, principally her family.  Nastya’s sense of self-worth is very low and she dresses up very sexy in order to alienate any possible friends.  Thankfully, a few people are able to see past her façade and become close (or as close as she allows them to be) to her.  Although, she hints a lot about what happened, she doesn’t really talks about it or wants to put words to her feelings.  She does everything possible to sabotage any happiness that might come her way.  One thing did appreciate about Nastya is that she was a baker, like I am 😉
Josh is lost.  He has suffered through many deaths in his short life and because of it and because of the angry way he behaved when the first ones happen, everyone leaves him alone.  Even though he thinks he likes to be left alone, he is so very lonely.  Just a handful of people care about him and he likes it that way.  Josh is an artisan that creates beautiful things with wood; that’s his outlet and his passion. That is, until Nastya becomes his friend, and later so much more.
Josh, I’m so glad that you were able to see past Nastya’s lies and her ‘costume’, past her silence and hear her scream for help.  I’m glad you were able to see the Sunshinebehind the clouds and let it warm you in the process.
The characterization is miraculous.  I found myself invested in these characters.  Not only on Nastya and Josh, but also in the loyal and misguided Drew.  In Drew’s family, and Nastya’s own. 
The writing is some of the best I’ve ever seen.  So good, fluid, illustrative, full of feelings, hurt, anger, self-loathing, and so much more.  It’s an absolute priceless gem.  It is part mystery, as we get small snippets of information at a time. Please read the quotes below and then form your own opinion.  The story is told from Josh and Nastya’s point to views, which I loved.  The characters have so much depth that I adored being in their heads.  The plot is simple and masterfully crafted.  It is done in a way that the reader knows much more than the rest of the characters, but still hearing the whole tale is heart wrenching. I’m pleased that we had a resolution, not a pink with ribbons ending, but a resolution nonetheless.  Please don’t be upset if you cry (I do it all the time!)
A note about the narrators of the audio book: It was awesome.  Since the story is told by Josh and Nastya’s point of view and there are two narrators, the book made more sense. The acting was really good, I almost wish that I could see them while they were reading to witness the anguish that I’m sure I would have seen.
As you can tell form my glowing review and from the reviews that you are sure to find, The Sea of Tranquility is one of the best books I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.  The combination of the amazing writing and style, awesome characterization, and the plot, makes this a must read.
A few quotes for you:
“It’s about the dream of second chances,” he says finally. He hasn’t raised his eyes from the paper on his desk and I feel him looking at me without looking when he uses his grandfather’s words. “The narrator doesn’t respect the beauty of life and the world around her, so it crushes her into the ground and once she’s dead, she realizes everything she took for granted and didn’t see right in front of her while she was alive. She’s begging for another chance to live again so she can appreciate it this time.”
“And does she get that chance?” she asks Josh while I desperately focus on the poster of literary terms on the wall and wait for absolution. When it comes, I barely hear it.
“She does.”
“There’s a reverence in the way he kisses me that frightens me, because it’s the most wonderful thing I’ve ever felt.”
“I’m not sure how long we sit in Josh’s truck, holding hands, surrounded by darkness and unspoken regrets. But it’s long enough to know that there are no stories or secrets in the world worth holding onto more than his hand.”
“I wished that my hand would work again,” I tell him when he climbs in after me. it was my first wish and the only one that mattered.
“I wished my mother was here tonight, which is stupid, because it’s an impossible wish.” He shrugs and turns to me, drowning the smile that cracks me every time.
“It’s not stupid to want to see her again.”
“It wasn’t so much that I wanted to see her again,” he says, looking at me with the depth of more than seventeen years in his eyes. “I wanted her to see you.”
“He hasn’t given me a place to sit. He’s given me a place to belong.”

About the cover:  The cover is pretty good, it has the silhouette of a couple looking at each other and in between there is spilled cup with melting ice cream. I’m sure there is some symbolism to it, I just can’t see it. 

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8 responses to “Review: The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

  1. I love this book SO HARD. I seriously gushed about it all over the End of Year Book Survey. 🙂 I have no shame about it. I thought the voice was so realistic and the Drew-Josh-Nastya trio is my favorite group of friends that I read this year. Love, love, love. 🙂

  2. I’m so glad you loved this one! To this day, this book is probably my favourite book ever. I mean it’s hard to say since I love so many but I agree with everything you say. I get so sad when I see people not liking this book. The whole story is just so heartbreaking and the writing, like you said, it just wow. Loved your review!

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