Thursday, December 27, 2012
The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
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.
It's a shame that my last review for MFB will probably be a burbling mess but there, it is what it is. I had a mini spree and got a few books for my Kindle. This was one of them and I started it first because - well, you have read the first paragraph of that synopsis, right? Nastya hasn't been to school for a couple of years but is determined to get through high school. She wants to do this in the easiest way possible and for her that's by not talking to anyone and having little to do with her family. The first few days let her settle into a pattern of moving silently through her days and running at nights. However, Josh is difficult to ignore. Everyone tries to but on the rare occasions he does engage anyone, they do as he says and have a healthy amount of respect for him. On one of her runs she finds herself outside his garage which is more of a workshop where he makes his beautiful furniture and slowly, minutely, their lives become intertwined.
Told in the first person, alternating between Josh and Nastya, the reader is slowly drawn into the lives of these two damaged people. Little-by-little their stories are unearthed and we find out the reasons behind their current behaviour. As they become friends we see that they are both conflicted with their feelings for each other. Honestly, I think this is one of the most beguiling, creeps-up-on-you and bewitching books I've read in a while. I was torn between wanting to know Nastya's full story and knowing that I may be horrified when it was revealed. Josh is just as intriguing. His scars might not be on the outside but they're just as deep. They adjust to each other reluctantly but you know that there will come a point when it's time to get real and both of them are doing a lot of pretending.
Apart from the main characters I was massively impressed by the secondary ones especially Josh's friend Drew who could have been a major idiot but is so cleverly written that I really felt for the cad-with-a-heart. Even his sister Sarah who could have just been a cheerleader-queen-bee type has moments of redemption. I wanted Drew to be happy as much as I wanted it for Josh and Nastya. What else can I say about this surprising and wonderful book? The writing is beautiful, the dialogue makes you catch your breath at times. Also, the last line? Best last line ever. It's long for its genre and a bit of a slow-grower but it steals up on you and takes over your life. I was bereft when I finished and moped around the house flinging books to one side and wailing, "I have nothing to read," for a few days afterwards which tells me everything I need to know about a book. It's being published by Atria Books in June but you can buy it on Kindle now. I think I'm going to have to buy a physical copy just so I can look at it.
So, that wasn't too incoherent for my last ever MFB review was it? Just pleased I could finish with a wonderful book. Thanks all (she says, trying not to get emo), it's been a blast. I've really appreciated all the comments and all you wonderful bloggers on Twitter some of whom I've had the chance to meet at events. It's a great community and one I've been proud to be part of.
Also, a huge thanks to Liz and Mark who let me become part of Team MFB and coaxed me through my first, stuttering reviews. You took a chance on me and I'm enormously grateful for your support. I've learnt loads, laughed loads and found two brilliant friends. See you in the cafe at Foyles.