Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Sea Of Tranquility by Katja Millay

5 Star

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.

Lydia - 5 Star

The Sea of Tranquility is magnificent. And this is not a statement I make lightly. Everything in this novel from the plot to the characters to the ambiance and suspense is orchestrated with brilliance. The Sea of Tranquility evoked every feeling, and maybe some I didn't even know I had. It is raw, gripping, and suspenseful and yet hopeful, heartwarming, and uplifting. I loved every word and would definitely read it again – which is something I have not felt or said about a book in a very, very long time.

You can’t help but feel empathy for Nastya immediately. Although shrouded in mystery, it is immediately apparent that she has endured a traumatic and disabling event at the hands of someone else and she’s struggling to cope. She’s starting at a new high school in a new town while living with her aunt who is rarely home. And not only is Nastya running away from her family, her friends and her old life, but she refuses to speak, her attire choices are questionable, and she’s immediately outcast by her peers. The life she had dreamed about and worked so hard for as a concert pianist is over and she’s traumatized, fearful, and vengeful. Outwardly, she is so different from who she really is and as soon as once I thought I knew what she was all about her personality shifted, and I couldn’t help but love her even more. I found the psychology of her character utterly fascinating, and Millay did a fantastic job with this as well as conveying all that she did with a character that didn’t speak! As a writer, I frequently sat back in awe.

And then there’s Josh. Oh Josh. The connection that Nastya and Josh have is immediate and troubled. Nastya the only one emotionally damaged; Josh has plenty of issues of his own. Every single person he gets close to dies. No one wants to be near him – and he definitely doesn’t want to let anyone in. And then Nastya comes along. The constant push-pull as their relationship developed was brilliant. It was never over the top, but the perfect blend of tentative, sexy, tasteful, and loving. Any teen reading this is going to be ruined forever – OR will hopefully hold their standards higher. 

Really, the whole book was fascinating. It was almost magic. You are drawn so far into the worlds of these individuals that you feel their pain, their hurt, their agony – and the inklings of hope they start to feel. And not only are you rooting for the two of them to make it, both together as well as apart in their lives. 

Everyone should read this novel. It is brilliant, unusual, fascinating, and intriguing. Go on. Read it. I dare you not to like it.

***This novel is also fifteen-going-on-sixteen approved. I lent it to my niece who devoured it. It is now her favourite book.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster Canada for our review copy. All opinions are our own. 

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