Wednesday, 2 January 2013

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay


The Sea of Tranquility

  The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
  Publisher: Atria Books
  Publication date: November 13th 2012
  Source: Netgalley
  Rating:  4 Stars

 
 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.

The Sea of Tranquility is a story about two broken people and their road to healing, but also the unexpected connection found through mutual pain.  It was an emotional and touching story, and one that had me in a bit of a turmoil after finishing.

We begin The Sea of Tranquility with Nastya enrolling in a new school with her aunt as her guardian. Her aunt is a nurse and works nights, so she’s pretty much on her own, which seems like exactly what she needs.  This story is an unfolding mystery.  We don’t know how Nastya got to the point she is in, you’re just dumped into things knowing something truly horrible has happened.  She has moved away from her family because she can no longer look into their faces and see the expectations in them.  They keep looking for the “before” girl and she can’t take it anymore.  We see her maneuvering in school with an invisible “force field” in place around her that no one will want to penetrate. 

“I've scared, offended or made everyone uncomfortable enough to stay away. Mission accomplished.”*

One more thing to ensure that everyone is kept at arm’s length is the fact that Nastya hasn’t talked for the last two years.  This is where she runs into Josh, who seems to have his own “force field” in place, and Nastya finds herself wanting to know why.  Much to her dismay, she’s drawn to Josh and finds herself wanting to figure out his story.

Josh has been subject to tragedy no one would want to consider.  He’s alone in the world except for his friend Drew and Drew’s family the Leighton’s.  He goes to school and immerses himself in woodworking, the one joy in life.  When he spies Nastya and the vibe she puts off, he’s curious but doesn’t make it his business to figure her out.  That is until she shows up late one evening and deposits herself in his garage while he works.  Josh doesn’t expect anything from Nastya and she can’t help but insinuate herself into his life, finding comfort just by his presence.  Somewhere along the line they start becoming close, drawing something from each other that helps the healing, and falling for each other in the process.

Nastya is an angry victim, surviving on with the hatred at what happened to her and what has become of her life.  Nastya was robbed of her options. Initially, I didn’t really care for her.  It’s difficult to like someone who doesn’t like them self.  Also, she was unlikeable in the way she dealt with her family when they clearly were in pain.  But you slowly understand why she treats them as she does, and I started to become attached to her.  She doesn’t treat the ones that love her in the way to inflict pain, it’s just that she is incapable of giving them what they need.  When she moves to her aunt’s, the pressure is off and the healing begins.

When reading a story where the characters are stuck in tumult, it’s impossible not to have some of these feelings rub off.  I did feel some emotional turmoil while reading this, especially in the last 25%.  Josh is an amazing guy but he does something I almost couldn’t forgive him for, and to be honest, it still smarts when I think of it, but I can understand why he did it.  He was hurting too and accepted comfort that made me want to throw up just as much as Nastya.  But their romance is full of swoon, so don’t let this discourage you.  I loved this quote:

“You know I meant it. I am human. And male. And not remotely blind. Do you want me to say it again? You are distractingly, even if-that-is-not-a-real-word pretty. You are so pretty that I bullied Clay Whitaker into drawing me a picture of you so I could look at you when you aren't around. You are so pretty that one of these days I'm going to lose a finger in my garage because I can't concentrate with you so close to me. You are so pretty that I wish you weren't so I wouldn't want to hit every guy at school who looks at you, especially my best friend.”*

I was completely sucked into this story. The writing draws you in making you anxious to know what happened to these people to put them in such a state. The main characters were compelling but so were the secondary ones like Drew, Josh’s best friend, Tiereny and the Leighton.

I appreciated how The Sea of Tranquility showed that friendship and love can help someone broken, but that alone will not completely fix you.  A person must come to that on their own and want it for themselves. A heartbreaking but beautiful story.

*Quotes taken from an uncorrected proof and may change in the final copy. 

As a side note, here is the original cover, and I think I like it a little better than the one above.  It ties in with a wonderful scene from the book.  Which do you like better? 

The Sea of Tranquility


23 comments:

  1. I loved this book. I will never forget it. Great review!

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    1. Thank you Megan. It was a memorable read. :)

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  2. I started this book some time back, but I couldn't get into the book at all,Rachel. I blamed it on the MC. She was so unlikeable for some reason. It seems like I should have stuck to the book, but the length kept putting me off. It seems like such an emotional read though and I agree that that quote is definitely swoon-worthy. Maybe I'll give it a try some other time.
    Lovely review, Rachel!

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  3. It is hard to like someone who doesn't like themself. Yes! I always struggle with these characters too, but if they eventually reveal themselves enough to make me like them, they end up being the most memorable ones. In some ways, this book sounds a bit like Pushing the Limits, albeit a bit darker. I really want to read it now. Wonderful review, Rachel!

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  4. Wonderful review, Rach! As I was reading this, I was thinking of the MC of the book I just finished, she was unlikeable most of the time too, but her past made her that way so I found it hard to blame her.

    This sounds amazing and I'm really glad I requested this, can't wait to read it (especially to find out what Josh does!)

    And I like both covers but I agree, there is something special about the original!

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  5. Oh I didn't know read this maybe I couldn't join you. It's next on my list :) And I love your review! :) I can't wait to read this book cause everyone are in love with it :) Amazing review Rachel! ;)

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  6. I personally think this book was one of my best reads of 2012... The writing was beautiful and moving. Glad to see more people are also enjoying & loving the story :)

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  7. This was my favorite book read in 2012. I loved it. :) I cried. I laughed and I believed in the two main characters while liking the extras as well. I agree, I liked the first cover best. Can't believe she self-published this book first. I'd love to know more behind that story. :)

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  8. Uh oh Rachel. He does something almost unforgivable? That makes me nervous. I'm going to need you to tell me what is is before I read this book. Seriously I can't deal with those kind of surprises, I have to build up my defenses going in so I don't freak out when it happens. I'm a highly emotional reader. Other than that blip, this book sounds awesome:):)

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  9. Yes yes, the last 25% you mentioned has me quite nervous. But your review really compels me to read this. I have to get my emotions check before I started this. Haha! Lovely review, Rachel. :D

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  10. I'm really looking forward to this one and your review has made me more curious if anything! I really like both covers and am looking forward to finding out which scene you are referring to for the original cover :)

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  11. *sigh* I love that quote you chose, Rachel. :) You have a knack for choosing the best. And also, exquisite review, dearest! I'm thrilled you enjoyed this and I hope I do too - I have a good feeling about it, but let's just hope it won't turn into an Easy disappointment! Also, regarding the covers, I really like both but I'm going to have to go with the cover above. I can't judge in terms of relevancy to the actual plot, but I LOVE the beauty of the faces and the spilling paint!

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  12. I impulse requested thsi and I am glad I did, but I am totally not in the mood for an angsty read right now, I am putting it off for a bit. I am glad though that this is a good, solid thought provoking read and I am really looking forward to it. Have a happy New Year, ladies!

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  13. Incredible review, Rachel! I'm so glad you enjoyed this one! I love the original cover, although the new one with the ice cream is surprisingly relevant as well. Like you, I was so moved by this story, especially towards the last quarter, and I cannot WAIT for Millay's next novel, whenever she writes it. I live discovering amazing debut authors, so she's definitely high on my list! :D

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  14. Beautiful review Rachel. As always, I adore the quote. haha.

    Hmmm. I have to say the old cover has something more simplistic about it.

    I definitely need to get around to reading this now. It's sat on my kindle along the thousands of other books I have to read. Oh very dear.

    I like the sound of the friendship and the emotionalness of the novel might be better when I'm happier so it's not too depressive all at one. Still, it sounds like a brilliant novel. I am wary about why you couldn't quite forgive Josh, but that just engages my curiosity.

    Great review!

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  15. Great review Rachel. I totally agree it would be very hard to forgive what Josh did but I can also understand why he did it. But I think it would be harder to forget the sound of it....I loved this one too. Definitely an emotional ride.

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  16. I stared at that cover (the first one at the top) for quite a while, just staring at it. I love illusions like that, although I think I do prefer the original cover, especially because it ties in with the book!

    I think I'll definitely be picking this one up. It sounds emotional, raw, and touching, which is just what a great contemporary novel is. Both the characters seem raw and real, even if the main character is a bit unlikable at first. And the romance seems to be the complete opposite of insta-love.

    However, this unspeakable thing that Josh does... it kind of seems like what Saba did in Rebel Heart, perhaps? I don't know, the situation is so similar. Saba's feeling alone and she's hurting, so she goes out and does something stupid that makes me want to slap her. Although... I understand why she did it. It seems like the same thing happens with Josh.

    Fantastic review as always, Rachel! I will definitely be getting a copy of this book soon.

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  17. Rachel, yours is the first review that makes me feel like I'd want to get hold of a copy of the book and read it. It's never easy to connect with a character who is an angry victim and I feel thankful that you took the time to share your thoughts with us. And the quote... loved it!

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  18. I just read The Sea of Tranquility last week and it is now one of my all-time favorites. I agree that Nastya could be off-putting, but I just felt that she was a teen girl that had been physically & emotionally devastated & dealt the only way she knew how. I loved, loved Josh and Drew. In the version of TSoT that I read (the self-pubbed version) he doesn't actually *do* anything, so I'm wondering if something changed in the new version from Atria, if I'm even thinking of the same event.
    Anyhow, I'm really happy you liked TSoT. It's a book I won't forget. Beautuful review!

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    1. Oh! I like the original cover too. I loved that scene, and it's more meaningful to the story.

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  19. Aw Rach, AWESOME review. I can't wait to get stuck into this one, it sounds amazing!

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  20. I've been hearing waay too many amazing things about this one, and I'm so glad to see that you've also enjoyed it! I'm really quite curious to see what this one's all about, how Millay is able to drain the reader's emotions. I think it's interesting that you GREW to like Natsya, but I'm also glad that you did because then, it wouldn't be very easy to enjoy the rest of the novel. You've gotten me really curious as to what Josh did that was so unforgiveable!! I really can't wait to read about Natsya and Josh's romantic relationship, it definitely sounds beautiful. This is an amazing review, Rachel! :)

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  21. A. I definitely like the original cover better.
    B. This sounds like an amazing book!
    C. The quote you chose is really nice, except then it made me laugh when I shortened it to, "You're so pretty, I could almost lose my finger." Heh.

    xoxo

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