June 4, 2013

The Sea of Tranquility - Katja Millay

The Sea of Tranquility - Katja Millay
The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: June 20, 2013
Source/Format: Netgalley (Thanks S&S!) || e-galley
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects the thoughts expressed in my review.]

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. (modified from Goodreads)

[Please note that there is mature content in this novel.]

The Sea of Tranquility is not a book that I loved. Instead, it is a book that I thought was okay, occasionally crossing the line over into like because of the characters and the writing. It is, however, also the kind of read that draws you in from the very first page, enticing the reader with the mystery of what happened to Nastya. Millay’s ability to tell this story in the most compelling way is a fact, as I was not able to put the book down for very long once I’d started it. In spite of its surprising length, The Sea of Tranquility is readable and pretty darn addictive.

Nastya is not a likable character. She is closed off, guarded and wary, and determined to make a certain impression. She doesn’t speak to anyone. All of these things do stem back to one source – the mysterious traumatic event that is constantly alluded to. I do feel for her, as it’s clear that her past has left her feeling useless and confused. But it was extremely hard to like her, even though there were moments when I thought my opinion would change.

Fortunately, I do like other characters. Clay draws things, mostly portraits of people, and he finds Nastya a compelling subject. It’s actually through his drawing that he learns more about Nastya, as he’s able to catch the subtleties in her that can’t be masked. 

I have complicated feelings about Drew, but what underlies them all is affection. He may be a jerk at times, but he’s not out to intentionally hurt other people. It’s subtly revealed that Drew’s actually a bit of a sweetheart, especially when it comes to the people he does care about. He and Nastya have an understanding, and their friendship is surprisingly covetable.

Josh Bennett is probably the reason that I liked The Sea of Tranquility at times, because he’s such a good guy. He possesses a combination of physicality and vulnerability that is completely appealing (to me). And he understands how to deal with Nastya, how to take care of her – and he wants to. The way he expresses his feelings for Nastya was quite wonderful, and it’s easy to fall in love with him.

The tone of The Sea of Tranquility is quite melancholy. The story revolves around difficult things – Josh constantly losing his loved ones, Nastya dealing with the aftermath of one moment – and it’s put out there right from the start. Even though I was hurriedly flipping pages to find out just what had happened to Nastya, I found myself lingering over smaller moments: Josh and Nastya in his garage, Clay drawing Nastya at his home, dinners with Drew and his family. These things were bright spots, moments to savor, and I felt them all the more keenly since they were book-ended with moments of sadness, anger or pain. 

While I did find The Sea of Tranquility compelling, I was not a fan of how everything wrapped up. I thought the way things ended up for Nastya – when it came to Josh and when it came to her past – was rushed. It was also the slight deficiency in emotions at particular moments that made me find this ending unrealistic. 

The Sea of Tranquility is a decent read, with a fairly compelling plot and a likable love interest. Perhaps if I had been able to like Nastya more, I might have liked it better. While I was interested in the story, the book barely left an impression on me in the end.


  1. Beautiful cover! Now following!


  2. Aw, I'm so sad you didn't like this book more...because I'm kind of obsessed with it lol. I liked Nastya because she was difficult and objectively unlikable. I know that sounds weird but I usually really relate to imperfect characters. But Josh...Josh Fucking Bennett...swoon!

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  4. I know a lot of people who postively adored this book. I did like it, but it isn't my favorite book ever. I did like Nastya, though. I didn't find her difficult to like, but certainly sometimes she frustrated. I am kind of madly in love with Josh, though :)

  5. Awesome review! I've been wondering about this book for a while, definitely going to give it a shot!

    Rowena Hailey (Alaska Ptarmigan Hunting)


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