Book Review: The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

Title: The Sea of Tranquility

Author: Katja Millay
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Coming of Age, Dark, Family, Sociology, Romance
Release Date: June 4th, 2013
Publisher: Atria Books
Format: Paperback

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.

I’m writing this right after I put the book down. I don’t even know where or how to start. I don’t even know if I can express myself without completely spoiling the book. But don’t worry, I won’t spoil.

I’m still reeling from a whirlwind of emotions.
Spectacular. Deep. Powerful. Uplifting. Breathtaking and emotional.

I’ve read few tragic, dark and compelling stories in the past, but what I felt while reading The Sea of Tranquility was nothing compared to those. I laughed, I swooned, I teared up and almost cried (forgive the lack of tears in my veins, I’m not stone-hearted. I can feel just as much as what this book wants me to feel, it’s just my tears aren’t too shallow. lol), I smiled, I felt sad, pained, frustrated, confused… and all sorts of emotions I can’t even put into proper description. Indescribable. 
I thought it was a ridiculously slow start. My eyes hurt from the small font of the book (bookish pet-peeves), but when I reached about 15%, I started to get more engaged and absorbed. I had a hard time grasping the words at first. I’m not a very emotional person, and I thought that I won’t be able to relate to all these deep and powerful words used by Katja Millay. But boy, was I wrong. I. Felt. Every. Single. Word. On. This. Book. And it’s beautiful.
The cover and the title. Call me dumb, but I seriously didn’t know about the Sea of Tranquility. I clearly thought that it was just a deep, flowery phrase with so much meaning behind it. But when I found out what it was, I came to understand the cover of the book. Don’t get me wrong, I also know what The Sea of Tranquility meant to the main characters, in a deeper and sensible manner aside from being part of the moon. So yeah, I got it. Apparently, it’s still a phrase with so much meaning behind it after all. lol. Well, for the ice cream, you’ll easily find out when you read the book. I thought it’s cute, I mean the ice cream. 

“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.”

The story. I expected this to be just like any other popular contemporary romance out there. Light and easy read. But also considering the title, I thought it will have something more. No, It’s not. Not just something more. It took me by surprise. I think, mysterious and uplifting are better words to describe it. By the time I got to 20%, my mind may have been floating with dozens of questions. At the beginning until at least 70% of the book, Nastya only gave nothing but clues and snippets of her tragedy. She made me think and guess and predict… and she drove me nuts. And then I eventually got tired to think or guess, I decided to just focus on the present. That’s why everything was a blur to me. And by the time all hell broke loose, I just stared into oblivion and tried to absorb everything all at once so that I can keep going. Oh, boy. 

“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.”

The writing style. I don’t know how many times I’ve already mentioned “deep”. But it was seriously deep… and powerful. There were too many issues going on, and I hate dramas. But in here, I didn’t get annoyed or get tired of all the dramas. Instead, I got to empathize the characters. I got to feel their miseries. I got to grasp every written emotions. And I applaud Katja Millay for her ability to do that. That being said, while I considered this dark and dramatic, at the same time, it was very witty and funny, and extremely adorable when it comes to romance. The balance it gave off was just too perfect for me. Even though my emotions got well played, the whole thing was still a masterpiece for a debut novel. It’s brilliantly well-written. (Forgive me for using too much adverbs. lol)
The characters. I like everything about this book, but the characters were what I liked the most. Katja Millay gave us twisted protagonists. But these twisted protagonists were strong, independent, and unexpected. Even the supporting characters were likable (e.g. Drew (of course), Clay, Tierney.).

“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.”

The romance. This was not just like the usual high school romance on every coming of age novels. This was mature, and stunning, and charming, and adorable and swoon-worthy, and romantic, and and… all the beautiful things I can say. Josh Bennett is bae. That’s it.

“And if my Sea of Tranquility were real, it would be this place, here, with him.I don’t say anything right away, because I just want one minute to look at him before I give him my last secret.”

I can’t even remember when was the last time I felt goosebumps and overflowing emotions all over my mind and body after reading the last words of a novel. That’s what I felt on The Sea of Tranquility. And please believe me when I say this, you should read this stunning book. Now.

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