Friday, June 28, 2013

Review of 'The Sea of Tranquility' by Katja Millay

Goodreads Description:
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.
About Author:
Katja Millay grew up in Florida and graduated with a degree in film & television production from Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. She has worked as a television producer and a film studies and screenwriting teacher. The Sea of Tranquility is her first book.
My Review:
‘The Sea of Tranquility’ has one of the highest ratings I have ever seen on Goodreads. I also have read various reviews referring to it as powerful, life changing, and poignant. These were the reasons I decided to read this book, but I wasn’t entirely sure it could possibly be as good as all the hype made it out to be. I was especially skeptical because this is a debut novel.

After tearing through the pages in two sittings I must say I agree with the hype. And I still cannot believe this is the work of a debut author. The story is not necessarily unique: damaged girl meets damaged boy and they fall in love, but the depth Millay builds in these characters is uncanny. The female lead, Nastya/Sunshine/Emilia, isn’t even a very good person, yet I was rooting for her the entire time. The male lead, Josh, is a good person, but half the time I wanted to smack him. These characters are full of contradictions and surrounded by tragedy, yet they are incredibly real. They draw you in and you want them to find their happy ending even if it doesn’t seem likely. I cannot even fathom how Millay managed to write a character that doesn’t even speak for half of the book, but she did and she did it well.

The pacing of this book is perfect. It always bothers me when characters enter what I call ‘insta-love’, but there was none of that here. Both characters struggled and fought for their love and happiness right up until the end.

The subplots were also undeniably enjoyable. There were at least two other side stories going on with a few of the secondary characters that got just enough time and attention to keep me interested in them without drawing away from the main plot of the story.

One last thing I must mention is the fact that Josh, manly man that he is, is addicted to General Hospital. The book has a few different GH references. If you are or have been a GH fan then you can appreciate the references to the Spencer’s and the Quartermaine’s. I know I certainly enjoyed them. I felt like Katja Millay was sharing a private joke with me through these references.

A debut novel like this one will be hard to top, but I certainly hope Katja Millay tries and I will be first in line to read her next book.

My Rating:





  1. Gah I loved this book Caroline and like you doubted the hype..but everything from the characters to the author's lyrical language just wowed me. Delightful review!

    1. I know, right? When I finished it I plopped the book down and announced to no one (well I guess one of my cats was probably in the room) that 'that was one hell of a book'. Lol. Thank you so much for reading my review and leaving such a nice comment. Oh and btw this Sunday will be my first time taking part in the Sunday Post meme. I can't wait! :-)

  2. YAY! I'm so happy to see that you liked this book so much! I was just recommended this book to read next, after the dismal reads I just suffered through - and then I see this review! It's a sign! I hope I enjoy it as much as you did! And HA, General Hospital! My mom used to watch that show, so I know a little about it :)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!