Sunday, May 12, 2013

Book Review: The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

Title: The Sea of Tranquility
Series: Standalone
Author: Katja Millay
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Self-published: 09/05/2012
Republished by Atria: 11/13/2012
Genre(s): Contemporary Young Adult


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.


The Sea of Tranquility was so much more than I expected from the description. Even being aware of how much it is adored by its readers, it was still more. It's one of those once-in-a-lifetime stories that readers are constantly in search of. I would go so far as to say it's a modern day classic; it's a novel that is so much more than a book. It's an investment in time and in the characters—all of whom are worthy of our curiosity, our empathy, and, ultimately our esteem.

It's a book rife with symbolism. Symbolism where the mundane transcends the obvious: chairs and pennies and sawdust and ice cream and even running. Where not sharing your secrets doesn't prevent someone from really knowing you. Where an "unacceptable" outward appearance won't keep everyone away. Where everything doesn't have to happen instantly or in haste to be fascinating. Where name meanings speak volumes, and where second chances are worth fighting for.

Katja Millay writes intricately complex characters, so multifaceted that they are many things—any thing but predictable. I would recommend this book to every reader, but I would stipulate that your state of mind is critical. Be prepared to devote yourself to it. Let it engross you. Keep your distractions to a minimum. This story is a journey best taken with consideration as your reading companion.


"If self-adoration were cologne, he would be the boy you couldn't stand next to without choking." ~ Nastya


“It's a little bit devastating being surrounded by people who can do what you can't anymore. People who create. People whose souls don't live in their bodies anymore because they've leached so much of themselves into their work.” ~ Nastya


“I know at that moment what he's given me and it isn't a chair. It's an invitation, a welcome, the knowledge that I am accepted here. He hasn't given me a place to sit. He's given me a place to belong.”  ~ Nastya


“We're like mysteries to one another. Maybe if I can solve him and he can solve me, we can explain each other. Maybe that's what I need. Someone to explain me.” ~ Nastya


“I don't really care what people say about me. I'm fine with lies and rumors. It's the truth I don't want being told.” ~ Nastya


“I haven’t started counting yet. I wonder if it’s just me or if it’s like that for everybody; that every time someone dies you start counting how much time has passed since they’ve been gone. First you count it in minutes, then in hours. You count in days, then weeks, then months. Then one day you realize that you aren’t counting anymore, and you don’t even know when you stopped. That’s the moment they’re gone.” ~ Josh


“People like to say love is unconditional, but it's not, and even if it was unconditional, it's still never free. They always want something in return. Like they want you to be happy or whatever and that makes you automatically responsible for their business because they won't be happy unless you are. You're supposed to be who they think you're supposed to be and feel how they think you're supposed to feel because they love you and when you can't give them what they want, they feel shitty, so you feel shitty, and everybody feels shitty. I just don't want that responsibility.”  ~ Nastya


Nastya: “'Just so you know,' I inform him, 'one day, I’m going to get tired of sharing your affection with that coffee table and I’m going to make you choose.'”

Josh: “'Just so you know,' he mimics me, 'I would chop that table up and use it for firewood before I would ever choose anything over you.'”


“Maybe one day you'll come back. Maybe you never will and that'll suck, but you can't keep doing this. The blame and the self-loathing and the bullshit. I can't watch that. It makes me hate you for hating yourself. I don't want to lose you. But I'd rather lose you if it means you'll be happy. I think if you come back with me today, you'll never be okay. And I'll never be okay if you aren't. I need to know that there's a way for people like us to end up okay. I need to know that there even is such a thing as okay, maybe even good, and it's out there and we just haven't found it yet. There's got to be a happier ending than this, here. There's got to be a better story. Because we deserve one. You deserve one. Even if it doesn't end with you coming back to me.”  ~ Josh


“I don't know how to say it—after all this time, I'm not even sure that I can—but I have to break her last rule, because if she knows nothing else, I need her to know this one thing.

"'I love you, Sunshine,' I tell her, before I lose my nerve. 'And I don't give a shit whether you want me to or not.'” ~ Josh

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