Thursday, March 28, 2013

Review: The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

Title: The Sea of Tranquility
Author: Katja Millay
Publisher:  Atria Books
Published: November 13, 2012
Purchase:  Amazon |  Barnes&Noble
My Rating:

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.


“Sometimes it's easier to pretend nothing is wrong 
than to face the fact that everything is wrong,
 but you're powerless to do anything about it.”

The Sea of Tranquility is a beautiful but tragic story. Most of the book is spent wanting the whole story of what happened, then getting it, and wishing you could go back to not knowing.  So heartbreaking and so unfair. 

Josh Bennett has lost so much.  He’s a broken, lonely young man; but, compared to Nastya Kashnikov, he appears almost whole. Nastya’s secret consumes her.  She speaks to no one, and she hides herself in inappropriate clothing and under layers of eyeliner and makeup.  She can’t be invisible, so she might as well be unapproachable.

“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.”

When she spots Josh at school, she notices the way everyone leaves him alone – they give him such a wide berth, it’s as if he has a force field around him… and she envies that. 

 It’s no surprise that the two of them are drawn together by their devastating circumstances, but will the battle of wills and the secrets that one of them refuses to share ever let them be at peace?  Vengeance and bitterness may just turn into love and forgiveness if only they can endure a haunting past that is crushing them both.

This isn’t one of those books where I relate perfectly to the female MC, believing her to be my soulmate and we’d have slumber parties and braid each other’s hair – okay, so I don’t feel that way about anybody, but still. Truth be told, we are nothing alike; but that didn’t make me love her any less –  especially when it came to her relationship with the piano. I’m nowhere near the accomplished pianist that Nastya is, but if it were taken from me… if I couldn’t sit at my piano at least once a day, letting my fingers dance across the keys and play the music that lifts my spirit and eases all my stresses away... I would be a shell of the person I am.  A very bitter shell.

“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.”

 Nastya’s story shattered me; but I love that, even though she is hardcore and a tough nut to crack, she could still make me laugh out loud.  There were definitely more than a few things we see eye-to-eye on:

“People who go around advertising their birthdays are douchebags. 
It's a fact. You can look it up on Wikipedia.”
“Do real boys actually call girls baby? 
I don't have enough experience to know.
 I do know that if a guy ever called me baby,
I'd probably laugh in his face. Or choke him.”
“Daylight won’t protect you from anything. 
Bad things happen all the time; they don’t wait until after dinner.”

Josh Bennett.  Josh effing Bennett.  This beautiful, perfect yet imperfect boy is exactly what Nastya needed.  I don’t believe anyone else could ever reach her, and I shudder to think of what would have happened to either of them if Josh had never entered her life.

“‘I’m going to walk over to you,’ I say, taking one step at a time
 in her direction like I’m talking down a jumper. 
‘I’m going to put my arms around you and I’m going to hold you,’ 
I pause before taking the last step, ‘and you’re going to let me.’”
“I know at that moment what he's given me and it's not 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.”

I like the way that this story is more realistic and less fairytale-happily-ever-after.  There’s hope, but you’re not hit over the head with it; in fact, it feels more like a rug that could be pulled out from under you at any moment.  You honestly don’t have a clue if they will work out or not.

“Nothing is perfect. It's not even good yet. But maybe.”

There are some amazing secondary characters in this story.  Clay is a definite favorite of mine, and I absolutely adore the Leighton family – especially Drew, Josh’s best friend.  Drew was much needed comic relief, but he was also a friend that anyone would be lucky to have. I couldn’t help but giggle every time he referred to Nastya as “Nastypants” (he swears it’s a term of endearment) or the way all the girls – and perhaps even a teacher or two – were so easily charmed by him:

“He's the kind of good-looking that transforms
 once self-respecting females into useless puddles of dumbass.”

Katja Millay writes beautifully – she gave me sentences and paragraphs that I loved and wanted to lose myself in.

“There are so many things that can break you 
if there's nothing to hold you together.”
“And maybe I'm a liar and I do need it, because being kissed by 
Josh Bennett is kind of like being saved.
 It's a promise and a memory of the future and a book of better stories.”

I could go on to quote this book all day; but that would probably land me in hot water, so I’ll refrain from going overboard any more than I already have. Besides, I don’t want to give too much of their story away.  It is something to be discovered and experienced first-hand. 

 “On every side of me are the lights and the tools and the wood 
and the boots and the boy I want to see forever. 
And if my Sea of Tranquility were real,
 it would be this place, here, with him.”



  1. Your reviews are always so wonderful to read, Michele! I rarely completely relate to female characters in contemporary books either, but I'm glad you were able to still love Nastya. Josh sounds utterly wonderful, too. Perfect but imperfect sounds just about right to me. :) Brilliant choice of quotes, too.

    Fantastic review! I will have to bump this up the TBR pile.

    1. Aaaahhh, Sam! You give my heart all the happies!!! Thank you so much! I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one - you don't have to completely relate to a character to still love them and the book. I'm thrilled you're bumping this one up - I think you are really going to like it!

  2. I love when you read a book and you feel like you would actually be friends with one of the characters. It makes it feel that much more personal!

    1. I do think I would be friends with her even though we were so different. The whole cast of characters is just fabulous!

  3. MUST READ THIS BOOK! Gahh I have yet to see anyone say anything bad about this book! Now you have got me all in a tizzy trying to rearrange reading schedules in my brain so I can bump this one up. Fab review wifey

    1. This one is going to give you ALL the feels!! I hope you can make time for this one soon so we can have another sob fest together!! *huggles*

  4. I only skimmed your opening and closing statements since I will be reviewing this for its June release with publisher. I cannot wait to read it, and hmm it sounds like wine and chocolate may be required! Glad you enjoyed this and that it touched you

    1. I hope you'll love it, Kimba! Definitely have the wine, chocolate, and tissues handy!!

  5. I love your quote-filled reviews!! Love them-- and I could read them forever, LOL. This book sounds fantastic!! Some books can manage both beauty and tragedy-- they're my favorite kind. Nastya sounds like a reall good, screwed up kind of character, and Josh... ooooh. :D I love a fairy-tale happy ending, but I also love when they're not. I'll have to give this a shot! Fabulous review, Michele! :D

    Megan@The Book Babe

    1. *Big hugs for Megan* Thank you, lovely! I feel I may have overdone it with the quotes in this one, but there were just so many I wanted to share. You helped my feelings tremendously! I hope you will read it and that you'll love it as much as I did. *snuggles* :D

  6. Love the quotes, again! :)

  7. So many beautiful quotes. I liked your take on desperately wanting to know what happened then wishing you could go back to not knowing. An eloquent way to put it. I snatched this up impusively awhile back, don't know why but I am glad I did as it sounds like such a memorable read!

    1. Thank you, Heidi! It's so true - I couldn't wait to uncover all the tragic details, but then when I had, I wished I could have covered them all back up. So sad :( This was a brilliant impulse buy - I believe you will enjoy this one!

  8. I love, love, love this cover! It is so pretty and interesting at the same time. The story sounds really good! Thanks for sharing. :)

    1. Isn't the cover stunning? It goes so perfectly with the story, too. :)

  9. Ohmygosh, Michele. What a great review! I'm so happy you loved TSoT too.!

    1. Aww, thank you, Andrea! I'm thrilled to hear that you loved it, too! <3

  10. Okay, I totally just downloaded this! What a great review, Michele. I just hope I can get to it soon.

    1. Squeee! That made my day!!! I hope you'll love it - be prepared for all the feels!! Thanks so much, Christy <3

  11. I"ve read so many raves about this book, it's astonishing to me that I still haven't read it (and I have a copy too!). Now I'm putting it higher up in my TBR. I think I'll really relate to Nastya.

    "if I couldn’t sit at my piano at least once a day, letting my fingers dance across the keys and play the music that lifts my spirit and eases all my stresses away... I would be a shell of the person I am. A very bitter shell." I feel this way about the violin! I totally understand.

    Beautiful review! (and the "useless puddles of dumbass" quote made me giggle!)

    1. Oh, I hope you can read it soon and that you'll absolutely love it!

      You will definitely have all the FEELS being a fellow musician. So awesome that you play the violin! *hugs*

      Thank you so much! Hehehe - there are so many hilarious lines like that in this story. It will break your heart one minute and have you giggle-snorting the next ;)

  12. wow amazing review. Some of the quotes made me laugh and the others gave me chills. I have been seeing this one everywhere, I am going to need to pick it up.

  13. OMG - I have had this forever and have seen nothing but great reviews. After reading your wonderful review, I am going to have to make time for this soon.

  14. I loved this book beyond words. I can see why you added so many quotes because nothing but the book itself can do it justice. It's just that good. :0)

    and heck yes to the not too much hope. sometimes you read a book and it's tragic and then all of a sudden it's like there are rainbows flying out of peoples asses and everything is better then. Ha! no realistic. Though I wonder if rainbows out asses would produce brown skittles. *ponders*


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