3-star · Book Reviews

Book Review: The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

 ★★★/★★★★★
Title: The Sea of Tranquility
Author: Katja Millay
PubDate: November 13, 2012
Page count: 426

“We have an unspoken agreement. I let him watch me. He lets me watch him. We never call each other on it. It’s a gift we give one another. No strings, no expectations, no reading between the lines. We’re like mysteries to one another. Maybe if I can solve him and he can solve me, we can explain each other. Maybe that’s what I need. Someone to explain me.”

I think I’m in the minority in regards with this book. I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy it but the book didn’t really grip until I was halfway through. The first few chapters I felt detached and I was patiently waiting for something, anything, that could pique my interest but there were only few vague back stories and it frustrated me that Nastya was a bit angsty. I admit I was intrigued when I first read the plot but somehow when I was reading the book I didn’t feel a connection with any of the characters. It’s not that Nastya or Josh or Drew weren’t likeable but I didn’t relate with them at all. But that didn’t mean I didn’t like them. In fact, I liked Josh!

“It’s a chair. Stop overanalyzing it. I’m not selling it and I’m not giving it to someone else. I made it for you. It’s yours.”

We knew something terrible happened to Nastya, thus the attitude and the all black dress code, but we didn’t really get to see what it was until the latter part of the book. I knew it was meant for the suspense and I think it’s what kept me reading.

“Sometimes I just forget how to breathe.”

I tried to understand Nastya, to relate with her but I failed to comprehend why she chose that road. To refuse to talk, to insists on dressing like that, to act all scary and tough and her actions confused the hell out of me. Sometimes she was all nice but then the next she was all bitchy. And, and, and! If I were her mother, I wouldn’t have agreed to let her live with her Aunt. I don’t know, it just felt all wrong. But while I endured Nastya’s fickle attitude, I liked Josh and Drew. Maybe I liked them more than Nastya.

Josh has lost everyone in his life, not all at once, but one person at a time. His mother and sister on a car accident when he was 8, eventually his dad on a heart attack and then his grandfather when he was 18. He was also emancipated and people around him knew better than to take pity on him. In short, he was all alone. Until Nastya.

“Maybe one day you’ll come back. Maybe you never will and that’ll suck, but you can’t keep doing this. The blame and the self-loathing and the bullshit. I can’t watch that. It makes me hate you for hating yourself. I don’t want to lose you. But I’d rather lose you if it means you’ll be happy. I think if you come back with me today, you’ll never be okay. And I’ll never be okay if you aren’t. I need to know that there’s a way for people like us to end up okay. I need to know that there even is such a thing as okay, or maybe not just okay, maybe even good, and it’s out there and we just haven’t found it yet. There’s got to be a happier ending than this, here. There’s got to be a better story. Because we deserve one. You deserve one. Even if it doesn’t end with you coming back to me.

Josh was sweet. Making a chair for Nastya was sweet. (I would fall for anyone who’d make a chair for me!) Cooking for her was sweet. Calling her Sunshine was sweet. Offering her the mp3 was sweet. And I liked that he made Nastya feel safe.

“I know at that moment what he’s given me and it’s not a chair. It’s an invitation, a welcome, the knowledge that I am accepted here. He hasn’t given me a place to sit. He’s given me a place to belong.

Drew was the typical asshole-who-fucks-every-girl but I liked that deep inside there was still a man in him. Someone who cared enough about a girl to the extent of making her hate him just so she felt something, even hate, toward him. Drew was a shit but at least he genuinely cared for Nastya.

“She seems to hate you.” She seems to hate everyone but I don’t bother to say that. I’m really trying to figure out why he’s wasting his time with this girl. It’s out of character. He should have given up on this a while ago. 
“So, it’s a challenge.”
“Exactly. Doesn’t exerting effort go against your personal philosophy?”
“It does, but maybe I’m entering a personal growth phase. Trying to improve myself.”

The book in general was okay but sometimes I felt like the dialogue and innuendos were forced. There were times I tried not to notice but well, I did. And I didn’t mind the language but there were a lot of obscene words and profanities. The students in this book also kinda scared me a little but I guess that’s what it was like in highschool somewhere. Anyway, another concern of mine was the way how the big reveal was prolonged. I mean, I kept guessing and guessing about what happened to Nastya (making theories and everything) but when it was finally laid out, it wasn’t that, you know, big like the others. Yes, it was terrible and dreadful and yes, it ruined her but it wasn’t what I was expecting. I expected something more horrible or just something more.

I really wanted to like this book but I think it just didn’t work out for me. It was slow paced, I failed to connect with the characters, there was too much angst, inconsistencies with the plot, typical highschool cliché and maybe it’s just me but the book was too long when it could’ve been shorter and better. Anyway.

But still, there were things in the book that I loved! Like when Josh’s grandfather told him about what heaven looked like and the garage moments! I think my favorite part of the book was when Josh and Nastya were in the garage making chairs and other furniture. And Josh, mostly it was because of Josh that I liked this book.

“I love you, Sunshine.” I tell her, before I lose my nerve.“And I don’t give a shit whether you want me or not.”

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4 thoughts on “Book Review: The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

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