Sea of Tranquility

Sea of Tranquility

Book rating: 04 Paperback

By (author) Katja Millay

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  • Publisher: Atria Books
  • Format: Paperback | 448 pages
  • Dimensions: 134mm x 208mm x 38mm | 360g
  • Publication date: 20 June 2013
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 1476730946
  • ISBN 13: 9781476730943
  • Edition statement: Reprint
  • Sales rank: 8,021

Product description

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 her-her identity, her spirit, her will to live-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 hiding--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. For fans of Perks of Being a Wallflower.

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Author information

Katja Millay grew up in Florida and graduated with a degree in film & television production from Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. She has worked as a television producer, and a film studies and screenwriting teacher. Currently she resides in Florida with her family. The Sea of Tranquility is her first book.

Customer reviews

By Brandi Kosiner (Brandi Breathes Books) 09 Jul 2013 5

This story is the master of suspense. It gives us lots of information about Natsya like she doesn't talk, and there is something wrong with her hand... and from the synopsis lets us know that she used to be a piano prodigy, and now she is trying to lay under the radar. But she attracts the attention of hot and charismatic Luke, and the mysterious and lofty Josh Bennett.
She is sullen, depressed, and doesn't want to inflict herself on her parents, so she is living with her aunt who is a nurse and works nights. But we don't know exactly why she is like that. I wanted to know how she was murdered but is alive, who did it, what happened to her hand, and why she doesn't speak. But these answers are deliciously spread out. It is a suspense to find out little clues spread over time. She is such a fragile and strong character all at once. She had something beyond her control happen to her, and it has effected every aspect of her life, and it took the thing that she loved most. And while she is damaged, and puts up a front, she is still trying to heal. She is finding a way to make her new life work, and little by little she lets people in, and shows them the beautiful and wonderful person she can be--broken pieces and all.
Although most of the book is in Natsya's point of view, we also get Josh's at crucial times and it gives invaluable insight, and also is a way to keep us in the dark a bit more with things.
Josh has such a broken past, with so many around him dying. He feels alone but also doesn't want anyone to get too close because he thinks that God hates him and kills all that he loves. Because his past seems to show that. But he has such a good heart. You can see how much he cares for his best friend Drew, and it made me smile when I read their interactions.
There is a lot of banter in this book, there is also quite a bit of language, but never to the point where it bothered me or seemed like it was there just to be there. It showed something about the characters, and it fit in with their personalities.
The Sea of Tranquility is a dark and gritty book. It is for mature teens and adults only because these are some seriously damaged kids, and it comes out in their actions sometimes. It is a story of healing, forgiveness, getting and giving second chances. While it does feature some dysfunctional adults, there are also some that I loved. Drew's parents completely took me by surprise but I loved them. And Natsya's parents confused me at times, but I can see it come full circle in something I can understand from both points of view.
The romance is a slow flame, building from wisps of smoke, and it was also so well done. As Josh slowly falls for Natsya, we get to see the more soft side of Natsya as well. I just loved watching them fall in love and try to protect the other from themselves.
It isn't at a break neck pace but it is amazing still, you have to slow down and appreciate the character growth and the intricacies of the characters. Their pasts shaped them so much--how they think, how they live, how they interact with others. It is great to watch how they all give to each other and even when they are hurting each other, everyone is learning and helping them to be better people.
The ending was amazing, and tied it all together and gave me not the ending I was expecting but something far better than I could imagine.

Bottom Line: The Sea of Tranquility is beautifully written, deliciously suspenseful, and has a swoonworthy romance, one of my favorite contemporaries this year!

By Sam 03 Jun 2013 4

In some ways, The Sea of Tranquility is a stunning read. It effortlessly captures the quiet gloom of a sullen teenage girl whose only shield against the world is a self-inflicted vow of silence. Unlike Hannah Harrington's Speechless, which deals with a similar concept, the main character's narrative here is tinged with raw and genuine misery. This, to a degree, makes it more difficult to digest (certainly for someone like me), but there are moments of unexpected beauty throughout that make the ample helpings of angst feel just about bearable. While I am still of two minds about a few aspects of this story, as a whole, it had me more than thoroughly invested.

The reasons for Nastya's silence are not revealed instantly. The mystery surrounding her past - one involving her left hand, a boy and some possible violence - is slowly and subtly unravelled as the book progresses. The author handles this incredibly well. Although its presence is mostly muted for the vast majority of the story (with the focus being on the romance) it is weaved back in at the most appropriate of moments, aptly stirring up the interest and curiosity needed to keep reading. In the meantime, our somewhat hostile main character is continuing life in auto-pilot mode, but now in a new town and with a new high school to get acquainted with. It's here where silent Nastya - whose questionable dress taste draws eyes like moths to a flame - meets the boy with his own human force-field. It's here where our tortured female lead meets Josh Bennett, the invisible furniture-crafter.

It is one of those romances - the ones that have the ability to make your heart pound as much as they have the potential to exasperate. It's situations like this where my patience as a reader is woefully tested. One thing that feels very transparent from the start (or just from reading the book description, in fact) is that Josh and Nastya will undoubtedly get together. It's this assumption and/or fact that makes getting through parts of this (the very angst-filled and drama-driven parts) incredibly challenging after a while. The quiet, smouldering tension manages to be equal parts masterful and infuriating. Give me this book on a happy weekend and I will giddily drink it all up. Shove it on me first thing on a Monday and there's a good chance that I'll resent everything and everyone by the end of every chapter. Conflicting emotions, to say the least.

This, to some extent, feeds into the characters. Nastya is a thorn. A pained and justifiably low-spirited thorn, but a thorn, nonetheless. She is, however, also quite loveable, despite the less-than-inviting outer image. The selective mutism is difficult to fully comprehend at first (it feels a tad theatrical initially), but Josh Bennett slowly falls in love with her, and, along the way, so do we. It's far more interesting seeing Nastya from Josh's perspective, which is one of the high points of the dual narrative. Josh's character, although a little more ambiguous, is instantly intriguing, as is best friend Drew, who conforms to as many clichés as he breaks. In fact, with Drew and Clay and several others, I was really quite impressed with Millay's control of the secondary characters here.

The Sea of Tranquility probably isn't capable of leaving a substantial impression on me (actually, it hasn't), but I did struggle to turn away from this book when I was reading it (even when I wanted to). It impressed me when it needed to, which is good enough for now. I'd more than happily read more from Katja Millay in the future.

Rating: 3.5 stars (though it's really more like 3.9 recurring)

By Charlie 31 May 2013 5

Oh wow. I cannot find the right words to describe this but saying that this is amazing is an understatement. It was raw and gripping and so goddamn emotional but still has the right mix of fun in between. Yes, it was heart breaking. Yes, it was a bit devastating. But no, it won't pull you behind the dark curtains of depression. It actually has this ability of making you hope and believe in second chances.

I love how the author got me so intrigued the moment I started reading it. She made it like it was a puzzle and there were pieces to pick up as I read along. It made me want to read it so fast so I can finally understand Nastya and Josh's individual stories.

Nastya, after suffering a traumatic incident changed everything about her. She keeps on keeping everyone away, even her family and stopped speaking. I love how her character was written. She was portrayed as tough and vulnerable at the same time while keeping both personalities tied to her and without confusing the readers. Her self-loathing wasn't irritating at all and she seem to keep that attractive personality despite her standoffish attitude towards others.

Josh, after losing everyone in his life, responsibilities and attachments were the last thing on his mind. Although he still got people on his side by default when his best friend chose to stay, he was still alone. Like Nastya, he doesn't want people to stay in his life only to find them gone one day but deep inside, he also craves normalcy and permanence. Both scarred, he and Nastya found solace in each other.

Drew, the best friend who acts like a jerk but actually isn't. I personally think that the meaning warrior fits him because of how he looks after his friend. He's undeniably loyal to his family and friends. Among all things, what I'm glad about Drew is not on how he treats his friends or how he hugged his sister, but the fact that he proved himself as nothing like what others say about him; like how other people see him. There was definitely more of him than he lets on.

The other characters were also exceptional. It proves that no matter how small that certain character is, he/she has the ability to leave an impact and I think Millay did a good job on making everyone essential to the story. There might be some filler characters mentioned but it wasn't that much and it felt right for them to be there. It made the story real and tangible and not just revolve around the couple.

I was used to couples where one of them is flawed and the other one has sort-of-issues but helps the other get over his/her **** and gets together. Here both of them were flawed and deeply scarred. Both of them has issues that won't go away for a long time and it seems perfect how both of them found each other.

The only issue I had with the book is the scene between Aidan. I expected and need more from it. Maybe I wasn't convinced with his speech about what happened but it felt one-sided, abrupt and not-so believable.

But Aidan-scene aside, this is exceptional, amazing, brilliant, genius and I would love to reread it again and again.

*This copy was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my review in any way.*

By Lily 18 May 2013 5

Hey guys!

Feel like reading a book that will just rip your heart out?

This book will do it.

Easily one of my favorite and most touching novels of the year so far, this story takes you on the personal journey of two very emotionally damaged people that find hope in each other. Though I finished reading it in February, I just can't stop thinking about it.

Nastya obviously went through something quite traumatic in her past. She clearly does everything she can to push people away from her; make them thing things of her that are not truthful. Nastya does this purposely to keep everyone at arm's length.

Josh tries to make himself a ghost within the crowds in his high-school's walls. He hides his face in the shadows of his hoodie. He builds an impenetrable wall around himself that no one thinks to penetrate.

Except for Nastya.

Josh gives her pause. She is curious about him. Maybe she sees the same loneliness she feels in herself. She is attracted to his darkness, like a moth would be to the light of a flame.

A complicated and cautious friendship develops between them. And with each interaction, they both realize they need each other. A flutter of hope begins to unravel in each of their hearts - to dream, to hope that they will both feel normal again.

A phenomenal debut that will undoubtedly touch your heart and soul way after you finish the last page, and read the last piercing sentence that made me weep. Even while writing this review, and remembering this story, I have tears in my eyes. This will be a novel that I will be sure to reread in the future. Probably more than once.

By Sarah Elizabeth 15 May 2013 3

(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Atria Books and Netgalley.)
17-year-old Nastya has a secret. Once the 'Brighton Piano Girl' she now dresses in black, and doesn't speak - to anyone. Nobody at her new school knows why she's like this; she just is, and she refuses to tell anyone what happened to her to cause this drastic transformation.

17-year-old Josh also has history. His entire family is dead, and the kids at school won't go near him because of the 'dead zone' surrounding him.

Nastya is drawn to Josh though, and they slowly draw each other out of their respective shells.
What has happened in Nastya's past though? Can Josh and Nastya be more than friends? And what surprises does the future hold in-store for them both?

This book was okay, but the slow pace and constant waiting to find out what had happened frustrated me.

Both Nastya and Josh are broken in this story, both have been through difficult stuff that they shouldn't have had to face at their age, and both have lived to tell the tale, even if they haven't survived whole.

Nastya had lost her career, her passion, and her identity in an event that she doesn't want to talk about, and the reader doesn't find out about until really late on in the book. This waiting to find out what had happened drove me slightly nuts. We all know it was something monumental, we all know that it broke her both physically, mentally, and emotionally, but we don't know what it was. This continued until really late in the book, and the slow pace was tortuous. For me this book could have been half the length, and would have kept my attention much more than reading through unnecessary conversations and events.

The romance between Josh and Nastya was nice, although again, very slow building. I liked that Nastya felt comfortable enough to talk to Josh when she wouldn't talk to anyone else, but I didn't like the way that they both hid their feelings for one another. I also didn't like the way that Josh carried on with his little 'friends-with-benefits' scheme that he had going on with another girl while he was falling for Nastya. Bad idea.

I mainly read this book because so many people had told me how wonderful it was, but for me this was just alright. The slow pace was annoying, and I got really frustrated that we had no idea what had happened to Nastya, and it was taking so long to find out!

Overall; I did enjoy this book, but the slow pace and constantly waiting to find out what had happened was a little annoying.
7 out of 10.

Review quote

"This is the kind of story that stays with you because you can't stop thinking about it."--Cristina's Book Reviews