Review: The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay ★★★★★


The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Series: N/A
Publication Date: November 13th 2012 (Kindle edition) / June 4th 2013 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781476730943
Page Count: 448
Rating: ★★★★★
Review Copy: ARC
Reviewed by: Janice
Synopsis: 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.

REVIEW

"The world should be full of Josh Bennetts."

Oh, how I loved this book! I read it once, just for my own reading pleasure, and then again for review. In most cases, when I do a re-read, I tend to focus on my favorite parts and skim the rest. For me to devour each and every word the second time around, without feeling even the tiniest urge to skip ahead - even though I know everything that is going to happen - means the book (or series) is truly something special. And believe me, The Sea of Tranquility is just that.

The story begins with Nastya (pronounced NAH-stee-ya) enrolling for her senior year at a new high school. She isn't there to make friends or win any popularity contests, and she has no interest in dating, college applications, school dances, or any of the other things that makes an eighteen-year-old girl's world go round. All she wants is to be left alone. There's a reason for that. Three years ago her life was forever changed by a brutal, unsolved crime, and Nastya has never recovered. Estranged from her family and hiding behind a wall of self-imposed silence, she is dead inside. Or rather, to steal a line from one of my favorite Rob Zombie songs, she is a "living dead girl". 

Enter Josh Bennett. Like Nastya, he has been put through life's wringer. When Nastya first sees him in the school courtyard, he is sitting alone - even though seating is scarce and all the other tables are jam-packed with students. It's like he has a force field around him, and everyone cuts him a wide berth. Curious, she starts to watch him, and then, late one night while she's out for a bruising run, she finds herself in front of his house. She doesn't know he lives there, but the garage door is open, as if in invitation, and however unintentional that invitation is, it's one Nastya feels compelled to accept. 

Josh doesn't know what to do about this strange, silent girl who keeps coming around. On the one hand, he's intrigued, and on the other, he's resentful and wishes she would go the hell away. But little by little, his resistance gives way to acceptance and friendship. Nastya and Josh start spending more and more time together, until they are practically living in each other's pockets.

But the past has a way of catching up to all of us, and Nastya is no exception to that rule. Her past can't be ignored or swept under the rug. Until she makes peace with it, she will never be able to move forward.

You'd think with such a troubled history hanging over her head, Nastya would be a moody character, wallowing in her own angst. It's true she has her dark moments. Who wouldn't, in her situation? But her thoughts are peppered with snarky humor, and she's honest, capable of showing true care and concern for those she trusts. She's a survivor, this girl, and a lot stronger than she gives herself credit for. I admired her, I sympathized with her, and I wanted badly for her to find the peace and happiness we all crave.

For me, though, the real shining star of this novel was Josh Bennett. Author Katja Millay doesn't attempt to pretty him up or turn him into a two-dimensional Prince Charming, but rather, every scene written from his POV feels refreshingly, authentically male. I loved that, and I can honestly say that Josh is one of the best YA male characters I've read in a long time. He's also the reason I bumped up my rating from 4 stars to 5. He was the "x" factor that turned The Sea of Tranquility into one of my favorite YA books of the year.

I can't write a review of this book without mentioning the secondary characters. From Drew and his parents, to Clay, to Tierney - they all bring something unique to the story. Drew, in particular, was a pleasant surprise. He seems at first like just another golden teenage god, shamelessly playing the field and leaving a trail of broken hearts in his wake, but as I read, I saw him more clearly. He's loyal, whip-smart, funny, and someone I would never want to debate against, because he'd make absolute mincemeat of me. "True story", lol.

Long and short of it, my dears, The Sea of Tranquility is an emotionally-rich book filled with an incredible cast of characters, and I encourage all of you to add it to your reading list.

5 Stars ★★★★★
ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

4 comments:

  1. I love the sound of The Sea of Tranquillity - the blurb caught my attention when I first saw it, but I've been waiting to see other bloggers thoughts. Great review, thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks! It's amazing. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did! :)

    ReplyDelete

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