Several months ago, I encountered this title being raved about by people in the blogosphere. It had been the talk of the town for quite some time. Even the reviews I’ve read had high ratings for this book, so it sparked my curiosity more. I wanted to find out if The Sea of Tranquility is, indeed, a good book. Therefore, after much deliberation, I finally decided to buy a copy for myself from one of our local bookstores.
Here’s the plot description from the back cover of the book:
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.
Two and a half years after an unspeakable tragedy left her a shadow of the girl she once was, Nastya Kashnikov moves to a new town determined to keep her dark past hidden and hold everyone at a distance. But her plans only last so long before she finds herself inexplicably drawn to the one person as isolated as herself: Josh Bennett.
Josh’s story is no secret. Every person he loves has been taken from his life until, at seventeen years old, there is no one left. When your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space. Everyone except Nastya who won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. But as the undeniable pull between them intensifies, 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.
Yes, I know, I bought this book sometime last year, but it only took me until this time to read it. To be honest, I wanted to be in the right mood before I pick up the book. I’m scared that I might end up hating it, while a lot of people loved it. Certain standards have actually already been set before I began reading The Sea of Tranquility. But despite my expectations, I still don’t want to force myself into liking it. I’d rather have my own judgment and trust it, rather than follow the majority. However, at the end of the day, I still wonder if this book has the same effect on me as it has to those who enjoyed it.
Reading The Sea of Tranquility has been an emotional journey for me. I don’t know how Katja Millay manages to put all types of emotions into one whole story and still make it as one of the best books I’ve read so far. I’m not so sure if I’ll be able to compress all the feelings I’ve felt about the book here, but I’ll try my best to make my review justifiable to what the story tries to convey to its readers.
To start off, I’d like to talk about the book cover first. It’s rare to see a book cover design as unique as The Sea of Tranquility. The cover has some sort of an optical illusion, letting people see two kinds of pictures if they look at it from two different perspectives. As all book cover designs do, this cover design certainly relates to the plot. And how they connect to the story is up to us to find out. What’s more surprising for me is that once I finished the book, I’ll never look at this cover design the same way again. In a good way, of course.
Moving on, the moment I opened the book, I’m already drawn into the story. I’m just a few pages in and I already find myself loving the characters of Josh and Nastya. They’re two different people, but it’s evident that both of them deal with something heavy and dark in their lives. It’s quite amazing to see how they are drawn to one another and their attraction for each other has also been made apparent. People may have judged Nastya with the way she dresses, yet with the way the story is written, there’s no preconceived notion from me about her. Josh, on the other hand, is being avoided by the crowd and it doesn’t even bother him. These two mysterious characters catch my attention just enough that the more I turn the page, the more I want to get to know them.
I’m glad that Katja Millay writes the story in Josh and Nastya’s point of views. This way, the readers will easily know the things and feelings going on in their minds as well as empathize with them. It makes me want to become friends with them. And as I go further through the book, I’m able to witness how different they react to their surroundings as compared to other teenagers – Josh and Nastya prove to act more maturely. I’ve also certainly become invested in their growing relationship with each other that I can’t stop myself from silently rooting for them. It’s a slow process, but that’s what I love in relationships. Josh and Nastya are definitely two dynamic characters I won’t forget. What’s more impressive is that aside from them, the other characters, such as Drew, Clay, and Sarah, have also changed towards the end of the story. It cannot be ignored that they have played a major role in Josh and Nastya’s lives as well.
For me, the best analogy I can give for this story is that it’s like a jigsaw puzzle. As I begin reading the book, I’m somehow presented with hundreds of scrambled puzzle pieces, waiting to be completed. There’s already a mystery at the beginning and my mind wouldn’t be at peace if I can’t find out and know everything. This strategy alone keeps me so engrossed into the story that I literally can’t put the book down. The more I read, the more I could put pieces together until I can finally see the bigger picture in the end. Katja Millay’s writing style is so addictive which pushes me further into getting lost in Josh and Nastya’s world. She successfully narrates the story in detail, but still leaves room for mystery and this got me hooked more. Katja Millay even manages to approach and solve the conflicts and issues realistically; thus, making it easier for the readers to relate to the characters better.
Overall, The Sea of Tranquility does not disappoint. From the plot to character development, writing style and conflicts and resolution, I couldn’t ask for a better story than this. It’s almost as if I’ve also felt all kinds of emotions in one package – I’m happy and laughing at one point and then I’m sad and heartbroken the next. But all these are worth it! The only thing I regret is that I should’ve read this book sooner! I would totally recommend this book to everyone. The Sea of Tranquility will surely capture the hearts of the readers, just like what it did to me.