I read a beautiful book recently and wanted to share…
The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay, is a debut YA novel about a severely traumatized girl and boy who form an unlikely bond. I very much enjoyed this book.
The summary, from Goodreads:
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.
So: I love stories about damaged people. There is something really appealing to me in watching people who are at the end of their ropes figure out how to put one foot in front of the other and go on. I also like subtlety, and slow-burn relationships, and pretty writing, so all in all this was the perfect book for me.
Side note: In one of my WIPS, “The YA Contemporary”, I’ve been trying to figure out the right balance of holding back crucial information about the protagonist’s past while not teasing the reader. This book does it excellently. I took notes (literally).
Here’s my summary of this book:
1. Strong Characters We start with Nastya, an incredibly damaged girl starting at a new school. Her voice is relatable and you’re instantly on her side. Then there’s Josh, who comes off a little flat at first, but whose appeal grows as you get to know him. There are also some great supporting characters (I especially love Drew and Tierney) who end up surprising you, which is really nice.
2. Slow Burn Relationships I hate insta-love. To me, bonds between characters need to be earned. And all the relationships in this book, from the friendships to the something-mores, are built up very slowly throughout the course of the story, which makes them a lot more believable when they get to where they’re going.
3. The Sexual Tension To go with the above slow-burn: so well-done.
4. The Writing It’s not especially flowery but it is real and engaging and lovely.
5. The Ending The last line was a little cheesy and unbelievable but I can be a sucker for that stuff and I loved it.
The Less Good:
1. The beginning was a little too slow I’m contradicting myself a bit with my love of the slow-burn mentioned earlier, but the relationships take a really long time to get going. If you start reading this and get a little bored in the first hundred pages, keep going; it gets better!
2. No Female Friendships This one bugged me a bit. The only people Nastya was able to connect with were a bunch of boys, which doesn’t make total sense to me as it was a boy who caused the traumatic event in the first place. I would have liked more female bonding.
3. The length I rarely say this, but it was a little too long. It took too long to get going and too long to wrap up. But it had me reading the whole time, so clearly it wasn’t interminable.
With all that being said, I really liked this book, and if you like slow-burn romance and stories with quiet beauty, I think you will too. 8/10 stars for me.
Have you read this book? Will you? Let me know your thoughts!