Author: Katja Millay
Published: November 13th 2012
Length: 448 pages (Paperback)
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
So, how should I begin this review? What did I think about this book? To tell you the truth, I’m not sure. Hopefully I’ll work it out along the way.
I picked up this book with basically no expectations whatsoever. I had seen it here and there without really thinking about it until Goodreads recommended it to me. Since I was looking for a contemporary book to read, and it had 4.56 in average rating, I thought what the hell and decided to read it. It took me about three days to get through and that was it. Here comes the tricky part….
What did I think? What did I think? What did I think? What did I think?
What………………..did I think?
God, I’m perplexed about this book.
Well, I have to start somewhere, and on the positive side, we have the fact that I did finish The Sea of Tranquility in a reasonable period of time. That’s something, right? It means that I found the story moving and interesting enough to want to find out what was going to happen, or rather, what already had happened. At least that was it for me. I wanted to find out why Nastya was the way she was. Why she was so angry, why…everything. Sure, I was curious about how things would turn out for all the other characters as well, but her mysterious past was the thing pulling the story forward. I did like the fact that hints were dropped gradually, and that the reader had to work a bit for the answers, but I can’t help but feel like you had to work a bit too hard. The story dragged on foreeeever, with countless garage-scenes, and if I hadn’t been determined to finish this book the right way, I might have been tempted to skip to the end and be done with it. Not a good sign.
Another not great sign, is one of my notes from the beginning of the book: “Nothing feels real, and it feels like the book is trying too hard.” With that, I meant that the voices, the characters, and the story didn’t feel realistic. They didn’t feel like real people, and I thought everything about it tried too hard to affect the reader. I did change my opinion a bit on this later when I warmed up to Nastya and began to understand her character, but if this is the first impression I get from a book, it might result in me losing the will to carry on.
Those are only two of the things that made me feel meh, though, and to prevent this review from becoming way too long, I think it’s best if I just make a list of the pros and cons of the book. It might help me to get my mind straight…
Let’s begin at the top with the positive things and then dive right in to the sea of negativity (Get it? No? Okay, sorry):
+ The story was very intriguing and interesting. It definitely caught my attention.
+ The story is told from the PoV of both Nastya and Josh. I love when they do that, because then you get to experience the characters through two different pairs of eyes. I also think that it was done very nicely, though not perfectly.
+ The characters were very enjoyable. I really liked Nastya, Josh and Drew, and found them all great. Nastya was surprisingly funny and I could really sympathise with her. Plus, I think it was really fun to see how Drew grew as a character when you got to know him better. Few people are exactly the way they seem at first glance.
+/– It was very different to read a book from the PoV of a character who doesn’t speak, but I had some trouble understanding exactly why Nastya gave up speaking, along with some other things I think needed a better explanation.
– Sometimes the conversations felt unbelievably unrealistic and forced. And yes, this book had it’s fair share of cheese.
– The story dragged on for too long. Millay could have cut back on like 50 + pages and the reader wouldn’t have missed anything of importance.
– Sure, it was cute at first when Josh called Nastya “Sunshine”, but he took it waaaay too far. I didn’t like it when he called her Sunshine in his head, like: hmm, Sunshine looks a bit tired today. Yeah….no thanks.
– Every character was basically a prodigy. They all excelled in what they were doing, which didn’t feel realistic and bothered me throughout the whole book.
So yes, The Sea of Tranquility was funny and sad, had interesting characters and an intriguing plot. These four things kept me reading, but then those not-so-great things came around and made me stop for a second to grimace. I don’t like it when my face does negative things, and therefore, the whole book fell in my eyes. I won’t tell my friends to read it, but if you’re not as bothered by these things as I am, if you’re looking for a potential cryfest, and if you really really liked Hopeless by Colleen Hoover, you might enjoy this book. After all, I have seen more positive reviews than negative, so I might be part of a very small minority.
Anyway, I have decided to give this book….
Some quotes that caught my eye:
“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.”
“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.”
“She’s like an optical illusion. You look at it from one angle and you see the picture and you think you’ve got a lock on it and then it shifts and the image changes to something entirely different and you can’t even find the original picture anymore.”
“He’s going to have to exert a little effort to get me to waste facial expressions on him.”
“…the glass I’ve been looking through is coated in the dust of my own perception and I haven’t seen what’s real.”