Author: Katja Millay
Publisher: Atria Books, Simon & Schuster
Date: November 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Romance
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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.
For the past couple of years, I’ve been in quite a contemporary rut! I tend to stay away from storylines that I know will have me ugly crying through the entire novel. When I’ve picked up a contemporary in the past, I’ve remained disconnected from the characters. I read the book at arms length through a fear of being emotionally unprepared. However, I know I’ve missed out on an abundance of beautiful stories, so I need to get out of this rut! Since many people hold The Sea of Tranquility as one of their favourite contemporary novels, I thought it would be a good place to start.
It was an intense read, to say the least.
Despite what I said about my past experiences with contemporary, I opened my heart to these characters. It was just so easy to become sucked into their lives. The sarcastic jokes they shared. The heart-wrenching emotions. The lost dreams.The ups. The downs. The process of healing. The dual perspective definitely played its part, enabling me to live inside both Josh and Nastya’s broken minds.
I can’t say I agreed with every choice the characters made, but that’s what makes empathy such a beautiful gift. It enables us to connect and understand a thought; an action, that is so far off from our own.
Drew was by far my favourite character – he is SO much more than those stereotypes you initially lump him with. I loved that he brought some necessary light humor into the novel, which provided a break from the dark, all-consuming themes. I also enjoyed the family dynamics within Drew’s family and the Sunday dinner’s they shared together. Oh, and Josh’s Grandad? He has some pretty interesting thoughts on the afterlife which are sure to melt your heart.
The plot certainly isn’t action packed; the story centers around character development and the pacing echoes the gradual process of recovery, or rather, the process of being ready for recovery. This, however, does not make the story slow or boring, as there is an air of mystery surrounding the characters that keeps you invested in those 434 pages. I was filled with questions as I turned each page; I was eager to know how events in the past had shaped these characters and created their present.
Something that I wanted more of is the actual recovery; I think it’s important to show how someone can get over such devastation. The main characters were ultimately drawn together because of their pain, but Nastya in particular was not ready to heal and her relationship with Josh became destructive. It caused more hurt. I wanted to see these characters develop alone, without being defined by their relationship.
Also, the fact that most of the characters were either super hot or super talented made me uncomfortable. I get that having a talent is an achievement and something that makes us sparkle, but I hate the idea that a person only has value if they have an exceptional skill. It’s possible to be ‘good’ or even awful at something, and still be interesting.
Having said that, I did enjoy this book overall and my mind has definitely been swayed in favour of picking up more contemporaries (recs, anyone?!). It has taught me not to shy away from books that make you feel the emotions we are supposed to feel.
There’s a lot more that I would like to say about this book, but there are two reasons why I will leave it here: (1) Spoilers!! (2) because it’s one of those books that I want to urge everyone to read, but it has been a challenge to piece my thoughts together. A tip from me – If you do decide to pick it up, have those tissues at hand!