Monday, July 29, 2013

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

Note: I thought I'd posted my gushing afterglow regarding this amazing book when I finished it a few weeks ago and, come to find out, I never did. How this escaped me until now, I don't know, but I wanted to share this because, not only is the story a great one and Katja's voice beautiful, but what happened with TSOT is the perfect example that self-publishing can lead down paths you never could have dreamed about (you can read about her story, here). And now, here's my review--copied and pasted straight from Goodreads. As usual, my excitement makes me sound a bit annoying, but that's the fangirl going on... the afterglow, if you will. ;)

The Sea of Tranquility


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.


“I know at that moment what he's given me and it isn't a chair. It's an invitation, a welcome, the knowledge that I am accepted here. He hasn't given me a place to sit. He's given me a place to belong.” 

It's official: I have found my readerly niche. The past few books I have absolutely loved are in the style of The Sea of Tranquility, and now I know why. There's something about a narrative where the MCs tell things like they are; where they let you in on their thoughts and their experiences without filtering or sugar-coating it or sounding completely unrealistic. This is the kind of writing that grabs me. (It's what I enjoy writing most as well, so maybe it's just a me thing, but when it comes to reading and loving books, that's a good enough reason.)

Because I am at a loss for words and there is so much that happens (and I'm sure others have already done a wonderful job of explaining that), I'm going to simply point out a few things I loved.

1) Neither MC was perfect. Neither claimed to be. Neither made all the right choices and, aside from one choice that I wanted to scream about, nothing annoyed me. (And you know how that is, when the MC drives you nuts because you cannot figure out what ON EARTH they are thinking and you want to knock them upside the head!) 

2) The secondary character/s (Drew especially) were made of gold, too. They had heart, they cared, they had reasons for being who they were, and I truly was just as invested in them as I was Nastya and Josh (oh man, JOSH!). That doesn't always happen for me. With TSOT, it *so* did.

3) Katja's writing is beautiful and perfect without overly trying, which is my favorite kind of writing. When things flow and move and ebb and you see and feel and hear it all, yet aren't so caught up in the prose that it keeps you from appreciating the experience, I know for sure that I will be reading the book again. And again. And begging everyone I know to read it. And that is definitely true for TSOT. Like I said. It is now on my favorites list. 

4) There are questions not being answered immediately as you read, but this never bothered me. I didn't feel strung along with meaningless events and conversations that kept me from getting somewhere. I was fine with it, because I didn't want the book to rush. I wanted to be in their lives. I wanted to stay there and help them. Some readers might think of TSOT as somewhat slow, but I didn't. I loved it. I feel that Katja played everything out very well. 

5) Did I mention that I loved this book? :)

If you want to read something that's quick and light, TSOT may not be for you. But if you want to get to know two souls who've dealt with way more than they should at their age, who have to learn how to love and accept things they cannot change (including themselves), and if you want to think about them days later because you felt so much of what they felt, then I highly recommend The Sea of Tranquility. I cannot wait to read what Katja writes next.

One last quote (because I'm a sucker for good quotes): 

“Josh isn’t in love with me and I’m not in love with him.”
“Sell it to someone who’s buying, Sunshine. Have you seen the way he looks at you?” I’ve seen the way he looks at me but I don’t know what it means. “Like you’re a seventeenth-century, hand-carved table in mint condition.” 

*Note: considering some situations and language, I would say The Sea of Tranquility is high-end YA

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