We came from a family of writers. Alas, we can't write. So we blog about our love for books instead.
I have to admit that I arrived very late to the The Sea of Tranquility party. This book was released in November 2012, and I never noticed it for some reason, possibly because the title and the cover didn't particularly appeal to me. (Yes, I am a person who quickly judges a book by its cover.) But after hearing overwhelmingly positive feedback from my co-Heiresses, I decided to give it a go.
Where do I start? I didn't know what to expect at first because I didn't read any reviews beforehand. I didn't even notice that Nastya wasn't talking aloud until the actual reveal in the scene where her new teacher is trying to make her participate in the usual getting-to-know-you class exercise. That particularly impressed me because I do love me some dialogue, and my mind always tends to wander whenever blocks of text go on without any dialogue happening. That I didn't notice at all that the main character wasn't talking? Whoa.
Nastya/Emilia and Josh are both extremely engaging and interesting characters. She doesn't talk, dresses like a skanky goth at school, and lets off steam by running like demons are chasing after her. He's a loner who's watched everyone he loves die, and spends his nights creating beautiful furniture. They are intrigued by each other, but how do they get together? The author takes her time as she tells us how they fall in love in spite of their respective issues, and it's such a slow, gorgeous burn that by the time they share a first kiss, I let out a long, slow breath of satisfaction.
The book is peppered with perfect little details, like how their debate teacher makes them say five similar words if they drop any unacceptable words ("Jackass -- moron, mule, idiot, fool, Drew"), and the characters do it automatically even when they're out of class. The ragtag bunch of friends that Nastya collects even if she refuses to talk and tries so hard not to interact with anyone. Josh's grandfather's advice about every woman having one unforgivable thing. These details flesh out the story and make it so real.
There are also some violent aspects in this book that make me cringe because I hate violence and always have to power through such scenes when I encounter them in novels. The Sea of Tranquility handles them well though, taking us through complex feelings about the perpetrators and into healing for Nastya/Emilia.
Overall, this is one of the best books I've read so far this year. It's a beautiful, moving story that takes its time, letting the reader in one sentence at a time until we too are caught up in Nastya and Josh's tale. I sent gushing messages of thanks for the recommendation to my co-Heiresses right after I finished it. Now I'm paying it forward and recommending it to all of you. You're welcome!
Because I've had to resort to re-reading my favorites to remind me why I LOVE to read and so that our readers won't think I'm an angsty bitch with all the 1-star Reviews I'm about to churn out, I'm writing about The Sea of Tranquility. Let's also throw in the fact that two members of my book club finally acted on my recommendation from December last year to read this book and to give this a 5-star ratings as well, and I'm thinking maybe I can do more people a favor by contributing to this rave.
The thing that I love most about this book are the characters. Sure, I care about the plot too but Josh and Nastya are just sooooo perfect as book characters. They are sweet, and funny, and damaged and I so badly want them to be real. Also, we're reading this from the first-person POVs of both Josh and Nastya and it is so much fun being in their heads. I've gotta admit I kind of cheated during my re-read and went straight to the fun parts. But when I was done reading? I had 48 highlighted sections on my copy. Let me share a few.
I love authors with a good sense of humor, and Katja Millay's characters have me in stitches. Nastya regularly has dinner at Josh's house and offers to wash the dishes. He turns her away:
"I can't wash the dishes?" I ask, disbelieving.
"No," He shakes his head.
"Because you suck at it."
"I such at it?" Who sucks at washing dishes? It's not brain surgery. It's cleaning the food off a pan.
"Yes. How can you not know this? I have to rewash the dishes every night after you leave."
"You do not." Does he? He looks at me and I know it's true.
"Yes, I like to eat off clean dishes. I have issues," he deadpans.
LOL. And then there's the love story, how they come to own each other without acknowledging it -- we know it and their friends know it and I just held my breath when this happened:
"About last night," I start, "I told Drew to keep his hands off you."
"Why would you do that?"
"Because everyone talks shit about you because of it." And I'm jealous, which is the real reason, because neither of us really cares about the crap people say.
"What kind of methods do you have that would work on Drew?" she laughs.
"I lied," I say, even though I'm lying now. "I told him you were mine."
"Just so you know," she says, her smile fading as her eyes lock into mine. "You didn't lie."
Swoon. These examples? Not a one-time thing. The book is brimming with wit and you just have to go and grab a copy to bring some joy into your life. It's perfect! Some found it to have a slow start but man-oh-man are you going to be rewarded if you just stick with it. Katja Millay, I hope that you are hard at work on your next novel. I'm waiting not-so-patiently! I wouldn't mind reading more about Drew, if you're not in the mood to think up a whole new bunch of characters. Thanks!