Review: The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
The Sea of Tranquility
by: Katja Millay
Publication Date: Nov. 13, 2012
Publisher: Atria Books
Age Group: Mature Young Adult
Source: e-book received from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Page Count: 448 pages
Order Links: Amazon | B&N
My Rating: 5/5 stars
Nothing that I'm about to say is even going to scratch the surface of helping you all understand how amazing this book truly is. Millay has done an incredible job at character development, relationship building, and plot pacing. This was such a beautifully written book and I loved that she divided the book between the two main characters' POV's.
We begin by meeting Nastya, who has moved in with her aunt and is starting at a new school. Just from reading the first line of the first chapter you know it's going to be an emotional ride.
"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."
We discover immediately how observant Nastya is. She focuses on every detail around her and does not like loud, busy atomspheres. She tries to make herself invisible at school by avoiding others, yet the way she dresses contradicts that sentiment- almost as if she's crying out for attention with her black heels, low cut dresses, and layers of make up. You realize almost immediately it's all a facade, and that she is trying to hide from her true self.
"I don't dress this way because I like it so much or because I want people to stare at me in general. But people are going to stare at me for the wrong reasons anyway, and if they are going to stare at me for the wrong reasons, then at least I should get to pick them."
Nastya has been to the point of true helplessness, which is why I believe she craves control. As you can see in the example above, she wants to be the one in control of how people view her. As the book progresses, we slowly see Nastya start to relinquish some of that control and start trusting and placing her faith in others. Watching her develop and change is probably one of my favorite things about this book. We begin with a bitter, jaded, indifferent girl and we watch her transform into someone who doesn't want to be alone anymore. However, what Nastya fails to realize is there is no moving on without acceptance and healing of what has happened to her. She starts to open up more and more of herself to Josh, our other protagonist. Even after opening herself up to him, because she has never dealt with the repercussions of her past, everything comes crashing down around her and she reverts back to a shell of a girl. It is up to her and her alone to want to accept her past and decide to move forward.
Watching Josh and Nastya interact, become friends, and then later more was done so perfectly. Millay does not rush any aspect of this, which I think is critical to the story. You couldn't rush these two into anything if you tried. It wouldn't have been natural.
Josh, as I said, is our other main character. He has experienced loss after loss to the point where he is completely numb and indifferent. He holds people at an arm's length and as Nastya points out, he has built a sort of 'force field' around himself at school.
Josh and Nastya's stories don't just mesh together. It takes quite some time before the two will even be cordial to each other. Once Josh accepts the fact that Nastya is worming her way into his life, he allows himself to befriend her and the two unconciously give each other what the other so desperately craves. Neither truly wants to be alone, and both want someone to trust and rely on, despite what they think.
This book is heartwrenching. You know that something terrible has happened to Nastya in the past, but she won't reveal what. Something so terrible, that once she remembered it, she stopped talking altogether. As their friendship turns into something more, Josh does not once push her to discuss what happened, though I think he really does wish she would confide him.
Millay does an amazing job of making you feel every one of Nastya and Josh's feelings. She does not hold back on showing you just how broken these two really are. Nastya has so many layers and once Josh thinks he is starting to understand her, she throws him for a loop. My heart broke for him so many times because he has done everything in his power to keep people out and yet he can't with her. When she causes him pain, you feel it ten-fold because of how hard he's worked to not let himself feel.
Overall, I loved this book, its characters, and the fragile thread Millay has woven to connect the two, and this book is definitely worth reading for yourself to see how even in the darkest dark, light can always find a crack to shine through.
*Thank you to Atria Books for providing me a copy of this book for review. I received an electronic copy of this book in return for an honest review.*