Review: Sea of Tranquility – Katja Millay

Release Date: June 4th 2013
Published By: Atria Books
Pages: 428
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Purchase: Click here to purchase

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Synopsis: 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 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: What a great bunch of misfits! I know that’s not a great opening statement, but that is truly my favourite thing about the book. The story is slow paced, as it is about how people deal with issues, events, feelings, life… not necessarily about the issues, events or feelings directly. It’s a very “deep thinking” kind of story, with subtlety to some of its key points rather than punching you in the face with it. Sea of Tranquillity is wonderfully written, raw and dramatic. It is filled with pain, understanding, heartache, struggles and friendship.

Sea of Tranquillity has alternating POVs of Nastya and Josh, which I think this was very well done as it gave the reader a great understanding of both characters, but masterfully didn’t give everything away. I thought the balance of getting to know the characters and leaving mystery was superb - there were many times I wished a certain scene was from the other persons POV just so I could understand them a little better… the building of intrigue of the characters was brilliantly written.

Nastya is a young girl who has had her life and dreams shattered. To cope with losing everything she has worked for and dreamed of, she moves to new place and school where no one will recognise her. And it’s here, in her self-imposed solitude, that she meets Josh – another person who just wants to be left alone. It’s easy enough for him as everyone pretends he doesn’t exist anyway, until one night, when Nastya turns up in his garage and just watches him. And this is where their strange but wonderful relationship starts.

Nastya is strong, but yet extremely fragile. She is dealing with things the best way she knows how, no matter what people think or if they understand – she is strong in her convictions. I must admit that Nastya did annoy me a little at times. It’s not like she didn’t have anything to complain about, or a reason to selfish, but a few things she did or said did make me want to slap her (not often though). She did however have a great balance of wit, vulnerability and bad-ass attitude.

Josh. He was pretty great I must admit. He is the loner-type, lost, but yet he is caring and supportive. He takes everything life throws at him and takes it to his garage and makes something of it. His relationship with Nastya was beautifully built – he gave her the space she needed but was there when she need him. He never pushes or questions her – even when all he wants to do is understand her.

Side-character love came in the form of Drew. Who would have thought that I’d love the man-whore character? He was awesome. I loved the fact that many sides of him was shown, not just the stereotypical playboy - you got to see so many different sides of him, including his weaker side. He is full of clichés, but yet, he is the exact opposite of typical. I’ve read characters similar to his clichéd self before and even though they tend to “redeem” themselves; it is always by doing a 180 degree flip. Whereas throughout this book you see so many different sides to him that it’s not really a flip at all, it’s just a slow turn.

What I truly liked about this book is Katja Millays ability to provide depth to her secondary characters. There weren’t any characters in this book that I didn’t like. (besides the ones I wasn’t supposed too of course). Generally secondary characters can be hit and miss; lacking in depth or interest, but I liked all of them in the book.

This is an emotionally charged story. It is not a “boy meets girl and they live happily ever after” story, it is very real, gut-wrenching, imperfect, and terrifying. You will feel this book

One of the things that I really liked about this book was something that I cannot tell you about, otherwise I deprive you of liking the same thing. I will however say, that due to clever writing, you may not understand something about Nastya in the beginning, but it is brought to the forefront later on… so that thing – I think was handled brilliantly. Actually everything was handled brilliantly.

Do not get distracted if you feel this story is slow, like I said earlier, it is about dealing with issues rather than focusing on them. Everything has its place, including the pace – which leads up to very powerful ending, which is superbly written leaving you to one of those moments where you sit back and say “wow” as the pieces of the puzzle all come together.



“People like to say love is unconditional, but it’s not, and even if it was unconditional, it’s still never free.”

“Daylight won’t protect you from anything. Bad things happen all the time; they don’t wait until after dinner”

“There are so many things that can break you if there’s nothing to hold you together.”

“He hasn’t given me a place to sit. He’s given me a place to belong.”

“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.”

“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.”

“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.”

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


What do you think?

  • I’m so glad you enjoyed this book! I liked it as well because the characters were just well developed and the story had a mystery vibe to it although it is contemporary. I agree how the author does a great job with giving secondary characters their own personality and they aren’t just bystanders. I also like how I was able to feel ‘all the feels’! That’s one of the things I look for in a book and Katja succeeded!

  • This book has been on my must-read list for ages - and your lovely review has certainly placed it as a top priority. I love finding those ‘wow’ moments in books, and if this one has it then I’m even more excited about getting to it!

  • This sounds like a great book. I don’t mind a book with a slow pace as long as the characters are stand outs. I already have this on my to-read list but i might have to bump it up. Great review, thanks for sharing :)

    • Kristy says:

      Thanks Rochelle. This is definitely a character driven story, and they are strong enough to pull it off. I hope you enjoy it when you get to read it!

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