Just Finished Reading … Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

Review of The Sea of Tranquility
by Katja Millay
To be published by Atria Books
on June 4, 2013
Previously published by the author as an e-book in 2012.

Source: e-ARC from the publisher through NetGalley. Please see my full FTC disclosure on right sidebar.

Connect with the author: Facebook : Twitter.

Summary (from Goodreads:) Full of rage and without a purpose, former pianist Nastya Kashnikov wants two things: to get through high school without anyone discovering her past and to make the boy who took everything from her pay.  All 17 year-old Josh Bennett wants is to build furniture and be left alone, and everyone allows it because it’s easier to pretend he doesn’t exist. When your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you space. Everyone except Nastya, a hot mess of a girl who starts showing up and won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. The more he gets to know her, the more of a mystery she becomes. As their relationship intensifies and the unanswered questions begin to pile up, he starts to wonder if he may ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding or if he even wants to.

Note: This is a NA/YA book that includes some mature content.

My take: Sea of Tranquility is definitely one of those NA "issue books" that feature heart wrenching emotion, edgy content, and a pair of broken people who might either find love or completely self-destruct. I have mixed feelings about these kinds of books. On the positive side, they provide a deeply emotional reading experience. They often also raise awareness about important issues like rape, drug abuse, alcoholism, etc. But some of them also suffer from a serious lack of world building. All the focus is on the couple, who seem to live in a kind of timeless, placeless bubble of angst and lust. The stories often follow a familiar pattern: wide-eyed good girl meets tattooed bad boy and sparks fly. And sometimes, for me, the drama level just gets turned up too high, shifting the story from authentic to unbelievable.

Sea of Tranquility is a stand-out in the genre, though, offering enough originality of detail and authentic emotion that I really enjoyed the story. It's hard not to feel for Nastya. Without giving anything away, she's been through a lot and is just trying to hold it all together. But the character I was really moved by is Josh. He's also been through a series events less dramatic though equally heart-wrenching and - in contrast to Nastya's acting out - has a sort of resigned acceptance of his situation that I found poignant and appealingly understated. Another plus: he's not a tattooed rebel with a rap sheet. I also really liked some of the book's secondary characters, especially Drew, who could have been just an attractive jerk, but was given a great deal of backstory and depth.

But this story is mostly about Josh and Nastya. Their relationship moves slowly. Really, really, really slowly. Nastya doesn't even speak for probably the first third of the book.  But given what she has gone through, that felt realistic to me and made their eventual connection that much more rewarding. Though the blurb says that Nastya "wants to make the boy who took everything from her pay," and I was kind of looking forward to reading about that, the story really didn't go in that direction. Nastya seemed to be fleeing from what happened to her -- again, completely understandable, but I'd say that plot focuses more on Nastya finally coming to terms with what she's gone through than trying to get revenge.

If you love deeply emotional, slow-burn kind of love stories, definitely try Sea of Tranquility.


  1. Despite all the raving reviews, I'm pretty sure this book is nothing for me. I'm happy that you liked it, though. It seems like this book is a bit more original than other NA books. Good review Jen :)


  2. This sounds so good. I have it for review too. I love the cover. :) Great review!

  3. I am a bit disappointed that it's not really about Natsya's revenge-that was the most interesting part of the synopsis to me. I think I'm going to pass on this one as the NA books just aren't grabbing me.

  4. honestly that bit about her wanting revenge.. I honestly thought it was connected to josh and THANK GOD it wasn't. I do feel Nastya grew up and when she had the chance for her revenge, she just didn't take it. I LOVED the story of Nastya&Josh as well as Drew, and Drew's parents. This book is so heart wrenching and full of emotions. I loved every single thing about it!

    great review,
    - Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

  5. Hmm. I will probably read it, but may push it to the back of my stack. Thanks for the review!

    Tressa @ Tressa's Wishful Endings

  6. so I been wanting to read this book because of the...amazing reviews hehe.. and I am always looking for something good. It sounds like it could be interesting for me. I don't mind really really really slow romances. I have the ARC, just a matter of cracking it open.

  7. I'm glad you liked it! I always get excited when I read TSoT reviews because this is one of my favorite books. I didn't mind the slow-burning romance because it was a nice respite from all those attraction-at-first-sight ones I always encounter in NA. Nice review!

  8. AHHHH! Wrote a huge long comment out and blogger ate it >.< Basically, I'm glad you liked this one, especially since it is one of my favorites. Great review! :)

  9. I liked this one. It wasn't a favourite though. Hope you had a good weekend!

  10. Agreed, this book is definitely a standout in the genre. I've disliked most of the NA "issue" books I've read, but I thought the strength of the characterizations and writing really made a difference with this one. Great review!

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  11. I've heard so much about this book and while it sounds amazing for some reason I'm scared to read it. I'll have to pick it up soon though because it sounds like something I'd really enjoy. Great review!

  12. Okay. I so have to read this one. I have heard nothing but good things about this book. Thanks so much for sharing your review.

  13. I reviewed it last Friday and loved it so, so much! I agree that it was different from those couple-in-a-bubble issue books! And I liked that the romance was slow. None of the characters' issues were milked for drama, in my opinion. And I agree with you about how understated many of the most important things were! I really enjoyed that too, and was surprised by Drew's character :) Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  14. I'm a little disappointed that this isn't a revenge story, but I'M SO GLAD you pointed it out before I read it!

  15. Hoping to get to this one in the next week or so. I'm glad it's a stand-out in a sea of the same. :)

  16. I do enjoy emotional, drama-ridden stories - in short spurts. I can't read many books that deal with darker subject matters in a row, and sometimes I can't even read one, if it's not what I was expecting out of the book. I do expect a darker story from The Sea of Tranquility, however, as has been noted in every review I've read thus far. I definitely am interested in reading about what happened to both Nastya and Josh. That's awesome that you felt that this was superior to so many books within this genre. I hope I end up feeling the same way!

  17. I got this from Netgalley & I bought this as a gift for a friend who wanted it so bad.
    It looks pretty wonderful & i am excited to read but I have a few books I need to finish first.
    I dont always mind slow moving storylines but they do get boring if they dont have any substance to them.


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