Friday, January 4, 2013

Nara's Review: The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

Title: The Sea of Tranquility
Author: Katja Millay
Genre: Young Adult, Chick-lit

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 and 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.
Review by Nara

I hate my left hand. I hate to look at it. I hate it when it stutters and trembles and reminds me that my identity is gone. But I look at it anyway; because it also reminds me that I'm going to find the boy who took everything from me. I'm going to kill the boy who killed me, and when I kill him, I'm going to do it with my left hand.

The above lines are the prologue of The Sea of Tranquility, and they are the perfect lines for setting the tone of the entire novel (or at least, for Nastya's story). And wow. This book was amazing.

Dual Perspective
I actually quite like it when author's decide to use the dual perspective. When done well, it gives the reader an opportunity to see the story from two different characters' views, meaning that you can gain insight into what one character thinks of a situation compared with another. And Millay does it so well. The narrative voices of the two characters, Josh and Nastya, are so different that you don't even need the cue from the title of the chapter, it's obvious who is narrating.

The main focus was on Nastya and it was from her perspective that we are introduced to her "death"
Dying really isn't so bad after you've done it once. And I have. I'm not afraid of death anymore. I'm afraid of everything else.
Nastya's voice was so full of angst and anger, which you can understand as she feels that it's unfair that she has had "everything" taken from her. Nastya's story isn't fully revealed until quite late in the book. We are only given small hints throughout the book, and on my second reading (which was only a few days after the first- it was that good), I discovered that there was actually a crapload of foreshadowing that you seriously wouldn't be able to pick up on your first reading. Although we can guess what happened to her pretty much at the start of the novel (from the prologue really), we aren't told the details of what happened and why it happened. In fact, it seems as if even Nastya doesn't know completely.
My mother's voice. It's the first thing I remember after I opened my eyes.
My beautiful girl. You came back to us.
But she was wrong.
The mystery of what happened to her is the first driving force for our desire to keep reading the book. The second, of course, is the romance.

Sidenote: The Romance

Secondly, this was probably one of the most realistic romances I have read in 2012. The relationship builds up very slowly, in fact, probably about the same speed as would happen in reality and the focus was much more on the emotional development rather than instalove then getting down and dirty (yes, I'm judging you Edge of Never).
End of Sidenote

Josh's perspective was lighter than Nastya's, filled with a lighter humour (whereas Nastya's is sarcasm, black humour and angst) and without the intrigue that we feel for Nastya's. Although Josh's story is revealed quite early on, we still feel compelled to read his side of the story as most of the relationship development was seen from Josh's point of view. Here are some lines from Josh:
I feel like grabbing my crotch and checking to see if my balls are still there because I think they may be in her pocket and I need to get them back.

"What? Sunshine fits you. It's bright and warm and happy. Just. Like. You."

Most definitely a panacea candidate.

Similar Books:
1. Easy by Tammara Webber
2. My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
3. North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley

Panacea Candidate

Overall: 10/10
Plot: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Cover: (indie) 4/5
          (published) 2/5