Review: The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay


Title: The Sea of Tranquility
Author: Katja Millay
Date of Publication: June 4th 2013 by Atria Books

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. f7f90-addtogoodreads


He tears apart faces and puts them back together whole, like I would a piece of music. I could play it a hundred ways, imbue it with a different emotion every time and try to find the truth of it. He does that with faces, except he’s not putting the truth in, he’s drawing it out. He’s looking for the truth of me. I wonder if he’ll find it, and if he does, maybe he can show me where it is again.

You know one of those stories that just leaves you SPEECHLESS?


At first, I didn’t know that I will like LOVE this story so much.

Okay, to be honest, I feel like the story was too slow for my taste. I think I was on the 50th page when I started asking where this is going and I can see that this is also the problem of other readers. BUT PLEASE don’t give up. You are seriously going to miss out on a lot of wonderful things about the characters of Nastya, Josh and Drew.

And I realized I loved Nastya when she said this about Drew:

“He’s the kind of good-looking that transforms once self-respecting females into useless puddles of dumbass.”

Well, let’s face it. There are really THOSE kinds of guys. *winks*

I can’t remember any other story like this before. I’ve never encountered such characters who are as broken and as desolate as Nastya and Josh. It’s always the girl fixing the guy, or the other way around. But in this story, both of them are so completely ruined that even I didn’t know what to do to make them feel better.

I love Nastya’s strength, passion and wit. I don’t even know how she survived after the incident that nearly killed her, but I really love her character. Sometimes she is serious, and sometimes she becomes crazy. This line where she was referring to Tierney Lowell, cracked me up bigtime:

“I don’t think she’s my biggest fan, either. She hasn’t told me outright, but she glares at me like I spend my free time murdering puppies, so it’s an educated guess.” (can’t get over the ‘murdering puppies part’)

But on a more serious note though, Nastya is the kind of girl who knows how to be dead but also knows how to be alive.

Josh’s situation is very different from Nastya. He has no one. Every single person in his family was taken away from him at such a very young age. I don’t know how he managed to deal with it because if I were him, I will be insane. On the other hand, Nastya’s family is still complete. Still intact. The only thing that’s missing in their family is Nastya herself.

Drew is the sweetest best friend. *sigh* You will really think that he is the stereotypical douchebag in the stories out there, but no, Drew is SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT. Yes, he doesn’t do relationships, and he sleeps with every girl who drools at him, but when it comes to Nastya and Josh, he will always be there no matter what. And I love his character for that.

When I was nearing the end of the novel, I realized why the pacing was that slow. Because it’s more realistic that way. When you experience what Nastya and Josh have gone through, I know that you will all understand why Millay chose to have a slow development for the story. It makes it more real. More genuine. More sincere.

I really don’t know the exact words to say just to give this story the justice that it deserves. Katja Millay’s writing is BRILLIANT. Everything just fits so right together.

THE SEA OF TRANQUILITY is a very heartbreakingly beautiful story that you shouldn’t miss.

It’s the kind of story that I’m sure will change people’s lives.

Some of my favorite quotes:

“Sometimes it’s easier to pretend nothing is wrong than to face the fact that everything is wrong, but you’re powerless to do anything about it.”

“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.”

“Not my fault that you’re distractingly pretty.”

“People like to say love is unconditional, but it’s not, and even if it was unconditional, it’s still never free. There’s always an expectation attached. They always want something in return.”

“I said I was male. I didn’t say I was an asshole… I’m not Drew.” (love this line from Josh! HAHA)

“There are so many things that can break you if there’s nothing to hold you together.”


Katja Millay graduated with a degree in film and television production from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and has worked as a television producer and film studies & screenwriting teacher. Her debut novel The Sea of Tranquility was a recipient of the American Library Association’s Alex Award and was named one of the Best Books of 2013 by the School Library Journal. She currently resides in Florida with her family.

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** There is an ongoing giveaway at Katja’s Facebook page for TSoT’s paperback birthday – click HERE to get there! 🙂 **


Congratulations, Katja! Keep writing beautiful stories. 🙂

rach - Copy


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