Saturday, November 24, 2012

Review: The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

September 5, 2012 | Antisocialite Press LLC
*Now published by Atria Books
Mature Young Adult Romance
Source: Purchased at Amazon
Amazon | B&N | Book Depository

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 discovering 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 content including profanity, drug/alcohol use, and sexual situations/language.

My mother's voice. It's the first thing I remember after I opened my eyes.
My beautiful girl. You came back to us.
But she was wrong.

Beautiful, tragic, heartbreaking, brilliant, uplifting. All of these words have been used numerous times to describe this story and all of them are accurate.

I had not heard of Katja Millay until I purchased this story, a decision based on the overwhelming percentage of 5 star reviews, and I was incredibly surprised to learn that The Sea of Tranquility is not only her first novel, but was also self-published.  

From the beginning, I was under the impression that I would be reading a story that centered around young love and a developing romance. I was anticipating something along the lines of Slammed or Beautiful Disaster. But while there is a rocky, but very sweet relationship that develops in The Sea of Tranquility, it takes a back seat to what the story is really about. It focuses on a young woman named Nastya who is emotionally, physically, and psychologically broken and her journey on the path toward self-discovery, acceptance, and learning how to let go. 

I found Nastya to be a very unique and memorable protagonist. She has allowed her entire life to become defined by one very tragic event and it was interesting to see how her inability to deal with those issues affected her relationships with her family and prevented her from forming meaningful relationships with her peers.

They're laughing and attempting to knot their hair together. It's the height of immature teenage girlishness. I want to mock them for it but I'm appalled by the fact that it makes me sad. For a moment I feel like a survivor in some post-apocalyptic world, looking through a window, imagining a part of my life that's gone now.

As the story progresses and Nastya begins to adjust to her new high school and living with her aunt Margot, she develops an unconventional friendship with a boy named Drew. He's handsome, oozing confidence, and is a shameless flirt. While he isn't exactly her type, and Nastya isn't interested in any sort of romantic relationship, she finds Drew entertaining and easy to be around, so they start spending time together. But this charming ladies man isn't the boy who grabs Nastya's attention. It's his close friend Josh.

Josh is as much of an outcast as Nastya, but for different reasons. He sits alone, no one invades his space, and most students seem intimidated by him. 

Stumbling upon Josh's home while jogging through an unfamiliar neighborhood, Nastya finds herself accepting a ride home. From this point on, they slowly begin to integrate themselves into each others lives. They're two characters full of reservations and are reluctant to allow anyone to get too close, but that's a large part of what makes their relationship so fascinating.

I want to run away, too. I want to drop her and fling the door open and not look back, because I can't do this. I'm not strong enough, not brave enough, not comforting enough. I'm not enough. I'm no one's salvation. Not even my own.

The Sea of Tranquility was an intense, emotional, satisfying read that I highly recommend. Fans of mature young adult stories, you must give Millay's debut a try.


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