20 January 2013

(A long) Book Review: The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

Title: The Sea of Tranquility
Author: Katja Millay
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Published: November 13th 2012 (first published September 5th 2012)
Published by: Atria Books
Buy It: Amazon

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.

Note: This book contains mature content including profanity, drug/alcohol use, and sexual situations/language.

There are minor spoilers in this review but don't worry! It won't ruin the experience for you. If anything, I'm including those so I can motivate you to be patient with the book if ever you find it a little bit boring in the beginning. I hope it works. *creepy nervous grin* I've uploaded a spoiler-free review on Goodreads, just in case you want to read that instead.

I admit, I didn't like this book in the beginning. It took me quite some time to really get into the story. I was only able to appreciate it 40% in. I think the main reason why it took me that long to get hooked was that a lot of the paragraphs kept droning on and on without really accomplishing much. Although some parts vaguely retelling Nastya's and Josh's past were essential to their character building, it was a bit monotonous for me. But when I got past 40%... that's when the magic happened. Everything changed.



I don't even know how the heck I'll be able to write more about it. WORDS FAIL ME. But I'll try. If this review starts sounding incoherent and dense, I'm sorry. I really don't know how to properly review books that are *censored* AMAZING

What I liked most about The Sea of Tranquility was the slow-building romance; everything just happened naturally. Nastya and Josh complimented each other so well and I think that's why they worked. Josh was so used to being alone at home but I think he secretly craved for companionship - and that's why he didn't really complain when Nastya just barged into his life without warning. On the one hand we have Nastya - equally broken, scarred by her dark past. Together, they were able to find solitude in each other without even complicating things (until around 80% I think heh). 

It took some time for Nastya and Josh to develop, but if you're patient enough, you're in for a treat. I just love reading their banters and how natural it was for them to be hanging out without even voicing out that they're indeed hanging out. I mean, if I were Josh and this gorgeous albeit strange girl suddenly hangs around my garage I'd just be all, "When did this *gestures* happen?" But no! Josh just let it happen. And Nastya just kept coming back. And it was freaking beautiful! I love romances that begin even before the leads realize there's something there. One of my favorite scenes was when Josh shared his bottle of water with Nastya. It seems shallow for me to like that part, I know, but they weren't even friends-FRIENDS yet and they're already swapping saliva?! It was just too cute... how they were so comfortable with each other like that, despite their deep rooted issues ('issues' don't even cover it). They were sweet in a subtle and way and their being utterly clueless made everything simply perfect. 

And to elevate the awesomeness, Katja Millay threw in another character that's as broken inside but exhuberant nonetheless: Drew Leighton. I took a liking into him primarily because he's Debate Drew Leighton. Kidding! (not really) Drew has got to be one of the most captivating minor characters ever! He's not what everyone think he is and it was interesting getting to know him through Nastya's eyes. Now before you think this is some cheesy love triangle - it's not. Nastya, Josh, and Drew's friendship is truly one of a kind. Basically this is part of what went down:

1. Drew makes Nastya (and Josh, his bestfriend) think he's into her
2. Josh gets really pissed at Drew and Nastya's sexual innuendos
3. Drew and Nastya become friends and agree on something
4. Josh tells Drew to piss off. Drew asks why then Josh answers (exact line): "Because she's mine and I don't want you touching her." --- HOLY COW YES. *cue Hallelujah chorus* Drew tells Josh he was just waiting for him to say it.
5. Josh and Nastya begin being "normal"

It's just... I can't even. You'd have to read it to understand how I'm feeling right now. Millay created a variety of characters that were equally important and lovable. It's like the story was made even better because of all the characters who helped form it into the beautiful book that it is now. I loved reading their dynamics and at some point I wish I was part of their world. That alone is a sign that this book is worthy of 5 stars!

But of course it's not just the characters that's worth mentioning. I think Millay did a terrific job at creating a story with such depth and emotions. The light and heavy moments in the alternating POVs actually balanced everything out. What I loved most were the very vivid descriptions of Nastya's past that were given little by little - it kept me intrigued all throughout. When the story climaxed I couldn't help but shed a few tears; that's how engaging it was! It's not that often you find a book that has a plot that's well-written and well-thought of.

Up to the last two words of the book, I was completely hooked. I gasped and got goosebumps after reading those two words. I really wanted to stand and give my tablet a slow clap but I didn't want people thinking I'm Ms. Crazypants (which I kind of am, really. Ha). If you're looking for a book that's truly one of a kind, READ THIS ONE. It'll surely take you on one heck of an emotional ride and will leave you craving for more... but don't wish for a sequel, the ending is perfect as hell. The Sea of Tranquility was able to give me what most books couldn't - a hangover. Katja Millay's writing is superb and I'm excited to see what else she has in store us. :-)

My Rating:

(Refer to rating system)

P.S. Here's the other version of the cover:

I love how both covers actually make sense once you read the book. I really like it when a book cover ties everything together. Hee hee. Yeah I have this thing with book covers. 
About the author
Katja Millay

I grew up in Florida where I spent my time hiding from the sun. Then I moved to NYC where I attended film school at NYU and spent my time hiding from the rats. I was a high school film production/screenwriting teacher in a former life and now I sit at my kitchen table writing stories and ignoring the frightening mountain of laundry threatening to overtake my home. The Sea of Tranquility is my first novel.



  1. Swapping saliva. Haha! Great review! I love Drew too. I wish Katja would write something about him.

    1. I think so too but at the same time I want to find out what other brilliant new things Katja can create.

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