Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Jenn's Review: The Sea of Tranquility

Author: Katja Millay
Series: None
Publication Date: November 13, 2012
Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 352
Obtained: purchased
Genre:  Contemporary, YA
Rating: 5
Bottom Line: Emotionally raw, heart-wrenchingly beautiful
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab!

Blurb:  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.

Josh Bennett’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. Now all he wants is be left alone and people allow it because when your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space.

Everyone except Nastya, the mysterious new girl at school who starts showing up and 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 an enigma 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.

Review:  I came across The Sea of Tranquility last year during a blog hop and was intrigued by not only the blurb but the outpouring of adoration from the blogger. This is not my normal read; I'm usually not a big fan of contemporary works. However the more reviews I came across the more glowing recommendations I found, so I added it to my pile. I finally picked it up this past week and the praise for this book is richly deserved.  In fact, it's going on my list of all time favorites. 

Katja Millay has a way of bringing everything to the surface and letting it simmer.  The prose are straight forward, in your face. Was the language sometimes corse?  Yes, but sometimes it needed to be.  However it was never overly gruesome or vividly violent... even when Nastya finally reveals to the readers what happened... her retelling takes on a dreamlike quality that makes it easier to read, though no less horrifying.  It was hard not to identify with all the characters.  I even loved the minor characters... even Drew and his uber-popular sister are given depth that is easily overlooked by some writers.

Nastya has to find a way to keep going even if it means running on rage.  What do you do when you no longer have your outlet?  When the very thing that gives you relief from the world is taken?  As a conservatory trained musician, I can't imagine the loss of my ability to create; to loose the very thing that is so much apart of you it comes to define you.

As a mom, it's your worst nightmare, a completely random act that destroys your happy, healthy child.   How do you deal with the destruction of your child?  How can you help her rebuild when you can't get through at all?  Should she have pushed Nastya to open up more?  Who can say.

Josh is amazing.  He's lost just about everyone, but he's still standing.  He let the anger and hurt overtake him for a while but he's gotten to a point where he's made peace with it enough to live with it.  Not letting anyone in is his defense mechanism and he's been pushing everyone away for so long, it's just habit now.

Credit also needs to be given to the publisher for the fantastic cover that's poignantly symbolic.  Honestly, there just aren't enough wonderful things to say about this book.  It's going on my recommend to everyone list.  It's fabulous.



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