The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

The Sea of TranquilityThe Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
Published by: Atria Books on November 13, 2012
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 352
Source: NetGalley
Buy on AmazonBook Details
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 herβ€”her identity, her spirit, her will to liveβ€”pay.

All Josh Bennett wants is to be left alone, and everyone allows it because they all know his story: each person he loved was taken from his life until at seventeen years old there was no one left. When your name is synonymous with death, people tend to give you your space.

Everyone except Nastya, a new girl in town who 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 a mystery 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 hidingβ€”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.

This book left me in a complete daze. I almost don’t know how to start this review, because how do you possibly put something like this into words? The Sea of Tranquility has so much emotion, devastation, power, helplessness, and an odd sense of hope.

The first half of this book was absolutely hilarious. Maybe that’s wrong of me to say, given the nature of this story, but I can’t help it. The characters are AMAZING! Their inner dialogue had me totally cracking up. They’re both witty, sarcastic, and absolutely hilarious—but without trying to be. This book totally lifted my spirits! ..which is almost odd because it’s about a somewhat depressed girl with a horrible, traumatizing past that changed her future. The second half of the book will completely rip your heart out, but at first I was pleasantly surprised by how funny it was!

The only three things that I know for certain took place last night are that one, small elves climbed up my body and tied my hair into a mass of tiny knots; two, I must have slept with my mouth open because something crawled into it and died; and three, I was sucked through a vortex into some animated world where an anvil was dropped on my head.
The Sea of Tranquility

To be honest, not much actually happens in the first half in terms of intense events. It’s really slow building. We watch Nastya and Josh go about their daily lives, sometimes encountering each other, and sometimes not. It’s very much an introduction into their psyches. That being said, it wasn’t boring. I was devouring every word. Their lives are different enough from “normal” that they’re interesting to read about.

“How come you call her honey and never use terms of endearment on me?” he fake whines.
“I do,” Mrs. Leighton says, patting him on the cheek as she walks by. “Just last week I called you the bane of my existence.”
The Sea of Tranquility

And on top of that, we have a mystery element. At first we don’t know exactly what happened to Nastya or what happened to Josh. They struggle to learn about each other, and we struggle to learn about them. The slow, and almost taunting way in which this information is presented will have you desperately clawing for more!

I’m going to kill the boy who killed me.
The Sea of Tranquility

Nastya and Josh are both trying (or not trying) to overcome the horrors in their pasts, and that’s what slowly draws them together. Both their relationship, and the inevitable romance, slowly (and sweetly) build as the story progresses! The romance was about two people who complete each other—but not in that cheesy “we’re soul mates” and “love at first sight” kind of way. Nastya and Josh struggle, grow, and attempt to cope, but they help each other do it (sometimes without even realizing). It almost starts off not as a romance at all, but as some sort of quirky friendship where two people seek shelter with the other. But the sweetness and loveable moments grew and grew until soon enough, I was in love with the characters as much as they were in love with each other!

The Sea of Tranquility - The dream of second chances

He’s given me a place to belong.
Nastya, The Sea of Tranquility

The second half of the book was less hilarious and more about the characters finally acknowledging that problems exist. The first half, Nastya was running away from her problems and Josh was hiding from his. But slowly those problems find their way to the surface and explode. There’s no more running, no more hiding. They have to face them. It’s totally and completely heart wrenching! I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed, like a lost little girl.

Sometimes I just forget how to breathe.
Nastya, The Sea of Tranquility

I feel like I’m an emotional mess. It’s been a long time since I was this invested in characters in a book. I want to cry and scream and laugh all at the same time. And for the first time, I felt like I actually completely understood Nastya. In most books when someone has emotional problems, I sympathize with them on some shallow level. But when they act out or run or hide, I want to scream at them and bash their head against the wall and tell them to grow up. Not in The Sea of Tranquility. Katja did such an amazing job of pulling me into Nastya’s life, that I wanted to run right along side her. I wanted to hide and scream and ignore the outside world.

I expect her in my life. And it’s terrifying.
Josh, The Sea of Tranquility

Words can barely do this book justice. It’s so intense and powerful that you really need to read it for yourself to even begin to understand! I almost feel numb from reading it. Did I really survive that intense reading experience? Staying up late to devour every word, then waking up to pick up where I left off and clinging onto my pillow as I sobbed uncontrollably? That’s what this book will do to you.

The Verdict


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  1. Wow, this book sounds absolutely amazing! But I’m a little bit worried about the heartbreaking factor of it. I just bought it yesterday and plan for it to be my next read after I finish Bared to You. Basically, I’m just stalking your reviews and then reading whatever you say to read! πŸ˜‰

    1. Don’t worry, I promise you it has a good ending! πŸ˜€ You will love it! I have not come across a single person who hasn’t! I can’t wait for you to read it. πŸ™‚ Also I’m looking forward to seeing what you think of Bared to You!

  2. How can I only just be hearing about this book now? *shakes head* I have no idea but I must read this. It sounds amazing. The blurb, the characters, the emotions, not to mention your AMAZING review which totally does this amazing-sounding book justice. I only recently found your blog through a Twitter friend of mine but I’m so glad I stumbled upon it because your reviews are worthy of rewards, such as this one. Thank you SO MUCH for bringing this book to my attention. Now, to get my hands on a copy!

    1. You are so sweet, Rebecca! Thank you! πŸ™‚ The Sea of Tranquility is even more amazing than it sounds!! And I completely agree: how did we only just find out about this? When I first got the book and saw that it had 3,000 reviews on Goodreads—all of them RAVING about it—I was like “What hole have I been living in??”

      I promise you will love this book!! πŸ™‚

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

  3. How haven’t I heard of this before? I popped over to Goodreads to add it to my to-read shelf, and EVERYONE is raving about it!

    Beautiful review Ashely – you’ve got me even more intrigued about what the hell has happened to these two characters, and excited to meet them both!

    kelly recently posted: Cover Reveal: Midnight Spell
    1. They won’t disappoint! πŸ™‚ Both of their stories are intense, captivating, and heartbreaking in their own ways!

  4. Oh God, you are scaring me. I don’t like emotions, they freak me out. But, but, but, I really want to read this one. My netgalley request is still pending. I love books that can make me laugh but if they make me sad in my eyes I will throw a fit!!! Okay, Okay, I will read it if I get approved. You convinced me. But beware, if I cry, I will be getting you back somehow. Book Karma is a BITCH!

    Jennifer Bielman recently posted: Review: Easy by Tammara Webber
    1. EMOOOOTIIOOONSSS!!! My preciouuusssss!

      [end weirdness]

      I hope your NetGalley request goes through! *pokes Atria* But I fear your wrath.

  5. WHOA! I’ve never even heard of this book and then BAM you are raving and I’m like staring in amazement. This look FANTASTIC. I hope it’s still on NEtGalley because I want to read it BADLY now. This looks like my kind of read when I’m in the mood for contemporary. Awesome review Ashley!

  6. I LOVE that you loved TSOT, Ashley, and I love your review, too.
    I had the pleasure of reading an ARC for Katja in September when she self-published it and straight away it flew to the top of my favourites list. Such an amazing book by a super-talented author. I was still thinking about Nastya and Josh for so long after finishing.
    I hope you don’t mind but I’ve posted the link to your review on to the Facebook discussion group for TSOT so that everyone can come over and take a look at your review.

    1. Of course I don’t mind! Thanks for spreading the word. πŸ™‚

      And I totally agree.. I can’t get Nastya and Josh out of my head! I LOVE it when books stay with me! They’re both such powerful characters and they feel so real! I feel like surely they must exist out there somewhere..

  7. Thanks for such a thoughtful and in-depth review. It’s great that you mention how funny the first half is, because it really is clever and pretty hilarious, the way she expresses herself and the situations at school. I think lots of us wrote our reviews so close on the heels of the last half that the fun parts got overshadowed. Anyway, thanks again, really enjoyed your take!

    1. That is a good point. πŸ™‚ The end is so intense and strong that it’s easy to forget about the funny moments. But I was cracking up so much that I kept highlighting funny lines and I couldn’t not mention it in my review! πŸ˜€

      Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Love this review! It had the same impact on me – I was in a complete daze. I am still telling everyone about TSoT. I made my husband read it immediately! Lol. Katja Millay blew me away with this one… right to the last line…. πŸ™‚

    1. Hahaha! Did your husband love it too?? I don’t think I would be able to make my boyfriend read this one, even with a lot of poking, prodding, and bribery. πŸ˜› I wish I could, but he’s more of a Bourne Identity kind of guy!

  9. Oh God. I have to read this now. Do you even realize what you have done? I was probably going to skip this one and now you have me wanting to BUY it. I only scanned your review because I want to read it and discover it for myself, but man…I was hoping this wouldn’t be good. GAH. Thanks for nothing. πŸ˜‰

  10. WHHHA! I haven’t even heard of this one, and it sounds amazeballs..Maybe it’s because I have stayed away from NetGalley in a long long time because I have too many books.

    I really hope this is a GREAT romance and not one of those reads I regret πŸ™

    Giselle @ Book Nerd Canada

  11. I LOOOVED this book!!! I just read it this weekend and OMG, it was so heartbreaking and beautiful and sad and wonderful and EVERYTHING! It is very intense, touching and emotional draining but I loved every second! This is a book I want to erase from my mind and read again and again…

    DannyBookworm recently posted: Review: Fairyland by JL Bryan
  12. Words cannot express how much I love the cover for this book. I almost want to but it just for that. But knowing that it’s a pretty awesome book inside the covers really makes me want it.

    I just bought a huge batch of books for christmas, but I think this one I need to get in January.

    Lizzy recently posted: Requests Closed
  13. An awesome review Ashley! I haven’t even heard of this one before now but it sounds amazing!!

    It sounds so intense!! I’m nervous about the emotions & heartbreak but also relieved there is humor amongst it all. I’m so curious about what has happened to both Nastya & Josh!

    I’m definitely popping this on on my TBR pile. Thankyou for sharing πŸ™‚

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