The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
Publishers: Atria Books
Published Date: November 13th 2012
From: NET GALLEY
My rating: 4 out of 5
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.
The First 20%
From the initial first few pages you get the gist that Nastya's hiding a huge secret. I found it a little difficult to relate to the characters or even find some semblance to piece them together. It actually took me until the teacher announced it in class to realise that Nastya doesn't talk. The narrative is very clever and is told from two point of views, Nastya and Josh's, and at first Josh came over as being a random character with only a few references to the girl who dresses like a russian whore. The incident with the shoe in the pavement was when the threads started coming together.
The Main Characters
Nastya isn't a likeable character in the beginning because she doesn't like herself. She's a complete loner, only wears black, slutty clothes at school and hides away when she's at home. She bakes cakes and biscuits alot and runs around her neighbourhood at nighttime. Gradually we're given sneak-peeks of who she is as a person and you start to grasp that her secret, the reason she puts up such a barrier against the world, is going to be awful. Her relationship with Josh comes along so randomly when she turns up at his house one night. She doesn't talk so can't answer any of his questions. As her barriers fall thanks to good friend Drew I wanted to constantly give her a big hug. In the end, after her self-destructive mechanism she is an absolute heroine in the truest sense.
Josh is someone that we all knew at school. In my head he was such a big, assuming, but quiet character. He didn't take any crap off anyone, he didn't mix well with others for the sake of it either. He was like a thirty-something in a teenagers body. His past constantly drives him and he's so afraid underneath his armour.
Drew, again, is someone we all know. A typical man-whore. Parties, drinks, then sleeps with any girl. Except when you get to know him you realise that its all just a lie. And there's a reason why he keeps his persona so open and out there. There's nothing like being spurned by love. Drew warms to Nastya, even though she gives him no reason to. He tries his moves and fails. But then he's so invested in trying to crack her that he and Josh form a united front and agree to help her.
The narratives keep the story flowing well. As Nastya becomes bolder around Josh and Drew her ability to keep up her pretence fades and she does become a nicer person. We're drip fed little morsels of Nastya's tragedy. Josh confesses much of his history all at once. But in hindsight it does open the book up once you know why one of them is so screwed up. Josh and Nastya try so hard to not have any physical relationship and when they succumb it ends up ten times worse between them. In fact it backfires completely. But most of the book you just feel so sorry for them and the shitty life hand they've been dealt.
Of course it has to get worse before it gets better, and it gets a lot worse for Nastya when she finally faces the murderer. I think the story reached its pinnacle but what I loved was Josh and Drew at this point. Their unreserved feelings for Nastya were so heart-warming. And in the final conclusion it ends where it should. A happy place.
To begin with I thought I wouldn't get on with it. This book is not a happy one. There aren't too many laughs or funny moments. And the premise is actually very dark right from the first page. Two screwed up teenagers who try to get along with life, and no hope of seeing a way out of the dark. The relationships flowed naturally, nothing forced. The family element was pretty special. But they coped so well in the end. It made me glad that they were glad!! Yes, this is a very good story, stick with it!