Book Review: The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

Posted June 20, 2013 by Kara in book review, Kara / 22 Comments

Book Review: The Sea of Tranquility by Katja MillayThe Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
Published by Atria on June 4th, 2013
Genres: contemporary, new adult
Pages: 428
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

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.

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 your 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.

The Sea of Tranquility is a slow-building, character-driven romance about a lonely boy, an emotionally fragile girl, and the miracle of second chances.

You know, I really, really loved The Sea of Tranquility. But…it was far from perfect. I get why it has such a huge fanbase though, as it was absolutely one of the most compelling and character rich storylines I have read in a long time. I think Nastya/Emilia was an engaging, heartbreaking, and infuriating character all rolled into one. I loved her. I felt for her. My heart broke for her. I wanted her to choose to live and be happy. But she needed to deal with her past and come to terms with losing everything first.

And Josh. OMG. I loved that boy. He was flawed, surely, and a bit judgmental, but the best characters grow in the narrative and his evolution absolutely blew me away. I loved him and Nastya together. I loved his attitude and dialogue and the way he was all fierce teddy bear and not wanting to love her but loving her anyway. I loved how they both had so many different elements to their characters to make them stand out and be developed and jump off the page. Katja Millay knows what she’s doing and she can write characters like CRAZY. I fell for the both of them and their lives and I wanted happiness and I was afraid this book was going to break me but it didn’t, and that was a little disappointing to be honest. I expected to sob and all I did was drop a few tears.

Now I have a little complaining to do. There were about 5-6 instances of slut-shaming (although I have seen much worse–that still doesn’t make it okay). It really rubs me the wrong way and I find it incredibly unnecessary and I feel that authors really need to educate themselves about rape culture. Katja Millay is one of many authors who don’t seem to care about the connotations of the words, skank, slut, and whore and it really pisses me off and it’s NOT okay. Stop putting it in your freaking books when it adds NOTHING to the story and makes your characters look like assholes.

Technically, this book was incredibly long winded. You could have knocked a hundred pages (or more) off this and it would have still had the same story. There were SO many meaningless scenes and repetition and it took forever to get going. It really messed with the tension and pacing. Due to that, I almost DNFed early on because I was so utterly bored and kept putting it down. It isn’t until about EXACTLY 33% in that the book finally gets going. I am glad I didn’t DNF it after all, but this story needed major tightening.

I wanted to say that I loved it completely and that it won over my heart. And it was close, but ultimately it let me down a bit. I expected more from the ending. I wanted more emotion. I wanted more story! There wasn’t actually a whole lot of plot here. It was a romance and it wasn’t. There was more than just that, and because of that, I expected more of a story arc. But you know, when you love characters, you just do. And Nastya, Josh, and Drew were just amazingly lovable and real. I will definitely read this author’s next book. I think she has a truly bright future. But lay off the slut shaming, please!


22 responses to “Book Review: The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

  1. Amy

    This book got off to a slow start for me too, but sometimes audios are like that for me. It takes me a while to really feel out the characters and get my mind in it. I would have finished this last night, but there was something wrong with the file on part 2 of the audio and it stopped playing.
    I agree with the slut shaming thing. Actually it made me not really like Nastya at first because of it. I get that she was doing it to herself, but I still didn’t like her thoughts on it. I also couldn’t stand Drew’s view on girls in general either. I know that sometimes guys are like that, but it got rather irritating.
    Overall I am really loving it though, and I’m a big fan of the dual narrators on the audio version. Great review hon!!

    • Agree with you on both points. Drew really grew on me by the end though because he was just so out there and ridiculous. I do like the dual narrations and I think the characters were done really well.

  2. Everybody I know really enjoyed this book, but for some reason, it just doesn’t appeal to me at all and I don’t plan on picking it up. Slut shaming is definitely a pet-peeve of mine, as well. It’s too bad this fell a little short for you, but loving the characters always helps making a book more enjoyable. Great review!

    • The slut shaming in this book was really weird. It was kind of inoffensive but it was so prolific that it was impossible not to call out. And it was completely unnecessary. Weird all around.

  3. This is one of those books where at times I really did love it, but then it also had a lot of real drawbacks. The pacing was whack, first of all. Even though I DID really like her writing, I just don’t think the book needed to be so long. ANGST to the nth power. Even if I enjoyed the meaningless scenes, it still made the book drag way too much for a romance story. It’s not like it’s an epic fantasy.

    You cried? Soft touch!

    The slut-shaming in this book was weird. I mean, I don’t think that was the message, but it was from the MCs and there wasn’t really any reason for it.

    • SAME. Totally the same. The pacing was awful and it was such a slow starter. I do believe I mentioned in my review that she could have cut a hundred pages and had the same story.

      I DID. I am such a wimp!

      Completely agree. I don’t even know how to explain it.

  4. I agree completely – I adored this one and am glad it has such a huge fan following, but it isn’t perfect. It was slow and the slut shaming was definitely an issue, but the overall message of this book and the emotional journey it took me through was remarkable. Lovely review, Kara! 🙂

  5. I don’t believe that the publisher actually changed the story when they decided to pick it up after being self-published, did they? Because if they didn’t then I bet a lot of those technical problems that Millay had will be edited out/tightened in future novels. It is great that you found the characters to be well done; strong characterization is always what I consider most important in the stories I read. I appreciated how your review really dissected what worked and didn’t work for you. I haven’t read this story yet, but now I feel like I have a better handle on what to expect when I eventually get around to reading it!
    As a sidenote, whenever reviewers address slut shaming, it leads me to wonder about how it’s actually used within the context of the book. I’m not saying this is true for you and your interpretation, but I know for me that sometimes I allow my experiences and ideas of what is right/wrong to color how I feel about the characters’ interactions and thoughts. Like I’ve come to realize that I can’t and shouldn’t expect every character to have the same viewpoints as I do, even if they have viewpoints I don’t agree with. I’ll be interested to see what I think of Millay’s use of derogatory terms towards females for sure.

    • You’re probably right. I don’t think much editing was done when the publisher picked it up. I think I read something by the author that stated that the story stayed pretty much the same too.

      And I agree with you about the slut shaming, it just depends on how it is written and used. It depends on the character and how it is portrayed and whether or not the behavior is corrected. Just as racism and homophobia should not be presented in a positive light in a novel, neither should rape culture. And that’s just the way I feel.

  6. It’s a shame about the slut-shamming (really, though, and what you said about rape culture education: yes) and the slow pace and the slim story line (description sort of reminds me of contemporary Shatter Me), but also awesome that you’ll stick around for the next book due to the author’s talent. I love character-driven works, and I hadn’t really looked into this one despite seeing it everywhere, so thanks for the introduction! 🙂

  7. I have this one but I never really tried to read it… I read from other reviews that it was super super depressing and super super slow, and I think I’m not in the mood for either of those. Haha. I’m really glad the two characters weren’t infuriating, though, because it would be TORTURE to have to read so many scenes and they be annoying as hell. Thanks for your review, Kara! I may read it, but not in the near future… maybe when I’m feeling depressed enough :))

    Faye @ The Social Potato Reviews

  8. I’ve been meaning to read this. I’ve heard a few times that there’s not much of a plot and just dominated with a love story. I guess I’m fine with that.

    Lovely review, Kara! <33

  9. Fantastic review! This is a book I’ve been wanting to read for a while and your review only reinforced that desire. I’m not really fond of slow reads, but if I connect to characters then I’m usually fine. These characters seem connectable. I love how you described Josh as “fierce teddy bear.” I cannot wait until I meet him! Thanks for the review 🙂

  10. I actually put this one off for awhile because of it’s fan bad. (Usually, I’m in the minority) But I did enjoy it. I agree with you though– this was painfully slow and at times, dull.

    Great review 🙂

  11. I’ve heard this is a pretty slow book so I’ve put off picking it up so many times but then I hear about how amazing and brilliant it is so now that I know that I just need to keep trucking until 1/3 through I’m definitely going to pick this up soon! Fab review!

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