Monday, January 7, 2013

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
Published: September 5, 2012 by Antisocilate Press (ebook), to be published paperback June 4, 2013 by Atria Books
Received: egalley for review via netgalley
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.

Full of rage and without a purpose, former pianist 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 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 subject matter including profanity, drug/alcohol use and sexual situations/language. It is intended for a mature teen/new adult audience. [goodreads]

After finishing this book a few weeks ago, I decided to sit on my thoughts for a bit -- let them marinate, so to speak.  I picked up this book with high expectations, but as I began the novel, I found myself not completely connected to it.  I'm still having a hard time putting my finger on why that is.  The story possesses a lot of what I typically like: a contemporary novel about two broken characters, finding a way to mend the pieces back together through a series of emotional events.  All the ingredients seemed to be there, but the final product didn't leave me with that over the moon feeling I had hoped for.

Nastya has endured a traumatic event that's left her not speaking, literally.  In an attempt to heal, her family has sent her to live with her aunt and begin again at a new school.  The details as to what happened to Nastya are not revealed right away and I was definitely intrigued by what had happened to cause such a drastic change from the person she once was.  She hides herself behind revealing clothing and heavy make up, which to be honest confused me a bit.  I was under the impression she did not want to be noticed, yet she was outwardly causing attention to herself.

Among the sea of staring eyes, Nastya notices a boy at school who appears to want to be left alone.  She finds herself intrigued by Josh and what his story is about.  These two characters form a bond that evolves from late nights spent in his garage as he builds furniture, but really the two of them are building a relationship between each other.  The moments Nastya and Josh spend alone in his garage defined a lot of what stood out the most for me in this story.  Even though I anticipated what would come next, I still enjoyed witnessing their relationship grow from two very dark, separate places.

My lack of connection to the story did not detour me from finishing it, though.  I found myself staying up late into the night until I reached the final conclusion.  It's the type of story you hope for a good ending, but considering the circumstances, you know realistically it can't be resolved in just a final chapter.  It did leave me with a sense of finality though.  I just wish I had connected more with it.


  1. It sucks when a book has all the right ingredients but something you can't put your finger on is off. I felt a bit like that about this book at first but in the end I got really pulled in.
    Re: Nastya's clothes and makeup - from what I remember, I think she did it more to scare people off than to go unnoticed. Or at least so that they wouldn't see the "real" her.

  2. Well drat. I'm sorry this one just missed the mark for you. I think I was a little wary [about TSoT] for a while at first but then couldn't stop reading or thinking about it. There is nothing better than two broken people getting together with mysterious pasts. And I think Millay did a really great job of giving just tiny morsels of information to keep me glued to it.

  3. Aw, sorry to hear you didn't really connect with The Sea of Tranquility more! I've yet to read it but I'm really looking forward to it after it recently appearing on my radar. I'll still give it a read but will be more wary going in. I hope I have a better time with it than you did but we do have quite similar reading tastes so I suppose I'll just have to see how I go. Lovely review, Ginger!

  4. I feel the same way, Ginger. I certainly liked The Sea of Tranquility, but I didn't connect with it as much as others have. I definitely enjoyed the book, and I am glad that I read it, but it will never be a favorite.

  5. I've read about (and watched a lot of Oprah) about how people react to traumatic events in their life, and dressing promiscuously is one way of people unconsiously revealing that they believe that they deserve a "lower" form of affection. I haven't read this book, but the description sounds kind of similar to Just Listen, by Sarah Dessen.

  6. I totally digged this one...but I was in the mood for something totally emo/soap operay! HA!

  7. I just started this one this morning (after two other tries) and I think I'll stick with it this time. I'm not sure if I'll fall in love like others, but I'm hoping it's a pretty strong read after all the praise it's been receiving.

    I also hate when I can't pinpoint why I do or don't like a book. It's a pain in the ass. haha. Thanks for sharing your thoughts though.

    Definitely interested in how you would compare this one to Pushing the Limits.

    1. I'm so glad E commented because I was going to say, "E just told me she was having some trouble with this one today." I purchased it after I saw Jen's rave tweets for it and I'm looking forward to it. So curious to know how I'll feel about it. xo

  8. I have this one on my 'to read soon' pile. Got the ARC from NetGalley also and I am pretty curious about it. I wonder if I will share the same disconnect you had, as we seem to be pretty like minded readers or if I will connect! I look forward to reading it nonetheless and should get to it soon.


  9. I love that you can review a book, appreciate it, and still admit it wasn't one you resonated with deeply.

  10. There was a lot of buzz about this one, so I'm definitely very curious about it. Even though it's not a fave for you, it sounds like you were at least able to find something interesting that kept you reading the story. Thanks for the honesty in the review!

  11. I have seen this book everywhere, with most people loving it. It's certainly on my list to read soon. Glad to know, even if you didn't love it, that you liked it.


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