March 9, 2013

Title: Sea of Tranquility

Author: Katja Millay

Publisher: originally self-published, but rights were later acquired by Simon & Schuster/Atria

Published: originally- September 25, 2013; republished by S&S- November 13, 2012

Pages: 448

Goodreads Summary: 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.

  • Christina loved this story from beginning to end! It’s going on her top shelf.

**NOTE:** Christina received an eBook of this title from the publishers via Net Galley. However, that did not influence her review in any way.

At this point in time, I’ve sat down in front of my computer five or six separate times to write my review for this book and each time I come up blank because I know there isn’t any way that I’ll be able to fully capture the essence of this book, the perfection of  its characters, or the amazing talent I feel Ms. Millay has as an author. At the end of every book, the reader is usually swayed in favor or disfavor of the book, maybe somewhere toward the middle, but always leaning toward one side or the other. Fewer times you’ll read a book that works its way into your heart, and you’ll deem it a “favorite” and recommend it to other people you feel will enjoy it just as much as you did. But then, there are those select few books that you’ll come across that seem to work their way past your heart and settle deep in your bones. You wear quotes from those novels on your brain like a badge of honor and carry the spirit of the characters around with you in your pocket, figuratively speaking, of course. Sea of Tranquility was one of those books for me. It’s the type of novel that makes me want to give every excuse for it, just so you’ll give it a try. “I know you don’t like angst, but it’s beautifully written and the ending makes up for all those heart-clenchy moments in the middle. It was perfect.” “I know you don’t really like contemporary, but it’s so beautifully written and Josh Bennett is a swoony bastard. I just want to watch him build furniture forever and ever.” “I know you prefer your heroines to be a bit of a damsel in distress waiting for her white knight in shining armor, but it’s so beautifully written and underneath all of Nastya’s badass warrior-chick exterior is a broken girl just trying to figure out how to put all her pieces back together. I just want to give her hugs and let her teach me self-defense.”

Did I mention it was beautifully written? Good, I’m proud we’ve established that point. Because honestly, the author’s words held me captivated from beginning to end. Up close, they fit together to form pretty pieces and smaller stories, but it’s the reflection of the story as a whole that makes you appreciate the depth of the author’s talent. All those pretty words make pretty sentences that turn into pretty quotes essentially just to create this really pretty (angsty, heart-breaking, gritty, raw, emotional, swoony, satisfying) novel.

I feel like I’m rambling, my apologies. I don’t want to go into further detail about the plot because both Nastya and Josh Bennett’s stories are revealed throughout the book in carefully crafted layers and I don’t want to ruin that aspect of it for anyone. But I will give you the prologue and if that doesn’t get you invested in the outcome already, nothing probably will… and that’s a damn shame.

I hate my left hand. I hate to look at it. I hate it when it stutters and trembles and reminds me that my identity is gone.

But I look at it anyway; because it also reminds me that I’m going to find the boy who took everything from me.

I’m going to kill the boy who killed me, and when I kill him, I’m going to do it with my left hand.

To further elaborate on the awesomeness that is Millay, I will now sing her praises as far as character development is concerned. Anyone that knows me or that has read any of my reviews knows that the characters can either make or break the book for me. To be invested in a story, I feel like I need to connect to it somehow and the quickest way for me is by falling in love with a novel’s characters. It’s in my opinion that they’re the heart of the story; the driving point behind all plot devices. The story-line can be so-so, but if your characters are dull and lifeless, then I’d rather not waste my time. Luckily for me, Katja Millay produced incredibly written, multi-faceted characters all with a perfect blend of flaws and redeeming qualities. Each character, from our two main characters and their supporting cast all the way down to the minor characters mentioned in passing, felt like they lived and breathed on every page. Even better, they all made me feel the full range of emotions at some point during the story. When I wasn’t hating or loving them, I laughed, cried, envied, and appreciated each and every single one of them. There weren’t any unnecessary characters; every one was used to further the plot or to aid in a scene somehow. I adore this author for giving me characters that can make me feel the way these did.

Verdict: If I haven’t convinced you to read Sea of Tranquility at this point, I simply don’t know how I can. This novel was the perfect blend of young love, self-discovery, and tortured pasts. I was riveted from beginning to end, captivated by Millay’s effortless storytelling and consumed with thoughts of the characters long after I had read the brilliant ending to their tale. Consider me a fan of Millay, and I’ll be looking forward to future works after such a stunning debut.

A very special thanks to Simon & Schuster/Atria Books and Net Galley for providing me with a review copy of this title.

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