January 16, 2013

Latest Read: Sea of Tranquility

Here are the basics ...
The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
Publication date: Nov. 13, 2012
Publisher: Atria Books
Category: Young Adult - Contemporary
Source: Netgalley

Summary: Former piano prodigy Nastya Kashnikov wants to get through high school without anyone learning about her past and to make the boy who took everything from her pay. Josh Bennett has lost everyone he loves until, at seventeen years old, there is no one left. Now all he wants is be left alone. Then Nastya, the mysterious new girl at school 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. (Adapted goodreads.com
My thoughts…
The good: It's easy to see why a lot of people are taken with this story. There's something hopeful about two emotionally-damaged individuals who are able to find love and happiness despite every obstacle life has dealt them. Nastya is a victim of a senseless and violent act. One that has left her scarred in so many ways and she refuses to reveal what happened to anyone. Josh's story however is public knowledge. He's lost his family and is now completely on his own. He has a best friend whose family makes him feel welcome but for the most part, he keeps people at arms length. Then Nastya shows up at school with her mysterious silence, face caked with makeup and clothes that are clearly indecent. But he notices something beyond the obvious facade she hides behind. And she notices him too. Particularly how all their classmates seem to steer clear of him. Circumstances keep throwing them together though and eventually a friendship blossoms between them. That was probably my favorite part. Just watching this relationship grow which neither of them expected and that somehow changes them both. And when you're as closed off as these two are, you can just imagine how much this scares them.

The book alternates between their point-of-views and I liked being able to see Nastya and Josh's thoughts on their relationship. Surprisingly Josh was the character I felt more connected to. Maybe it's because he's the more open one but something about his voice came across clearer to me than Nastya's. Nastya is, by far, the more complex character. We only get glimpses of her tragedy throughout the story but it's enough to piece it all together before it's finally revealed.

(Major) reservations: I really hate to say this because I had very high expectations for this book, but I just wasn't that taken with it. The structure and pacing of the plot dragged for me. The first part of the book was about setting the stage for who these characters are, with little interaction between them. For me, it didn't take long to grasp their personalities so I kept waiting to finally move onto the building their relationship part. Then once I got there, as much as I loved their moments together, then I was waiting for things to progress and for truths to come out. Specifically Nastya's. But I felt the same way Josh did - just because he spent all this time with her, it didn't necessarily mean that he felt like he knew her. And that was a big thing for me. I felt awful about the tragedy she had faced but I couldn't tap into her feelings. I didn't feel her joy or her sadness. By the end, I didn't feel like I really got to know her at all. Then the reveal of her past was anti-climatic (because I had pretty much figured it out) and the resolution was a bit rushed. It was a "nice" ending and the last few lines were sweet in a way but after all the time I spent waiting, I felt let down.

Do I recommend?: I'm hesitant because while I didn't love it, a lot of people do. I think part of the problem is that I just read a book that also dealt with a girl who was a victim and didn't want to talk about it either. But in that case, I connected so strongly with the protagonist and the writing was amazing. I couldn't help but compare the two and the other story was told so much better in my opinion. So I can't say that I recommend it but read the synopsis and if you're intrigued, check it out. You may feel differently than I did.

Happy reading!

8 comments:

  1. I think you did a really fair job with this review. I just finished mine last night, and it was tough and I'm glad that we were able to talk at length about this book and the expectations we had that were not reached.

    You are right: What Happens Next did a more succinct, clear job of what this book didn't. I wonder what would have happened if there was a male counterpart that was as much a part of WHN. Would it have worked or been too long? Was the author of SOT too ambitious?

    It's really hard to say, and I know I'm really intrigued by the reviews of this book. I want to know why people are so connected to it.

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    1. Thanks! I agree this was a tough one to write. And I'm really glad we were able to talk about it too because I had been wanting to discuss it. Even though I had already written my review at that point, it was nice to hear that someone else saw the same things I did.

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  2. I'm interested in reading this one, just to see how I end up feeling about it. It certainly sounds like the kind of story that could potentially be moving - but fails in terms of a connection with one of the main characters, which is a BIG deal. Still, people must have loved it for a reason, so I still look forward to reading it for myself!

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    1. I do feel like it's one of those books where maybe you just have to see for yourself. Because it's true, a lot of people do seem to love it. After you've read it, we should discuss :)

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  3. I tried commenting on my phone this morning, but it was acting really dumb. I read E's review after she wrote it last night and now reading yours, I feel like I need to adjust my expectations when I read this book. It seems like N's character could have been much, much better developed. I bought this when everyone was tweeting about it's amazingness. I'm still going to read it, but just be a bit more realistic about what I expect of it. :)

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    1. That's why I got it too -- because everyone was raving about it. I think adjusting your expectations is a good idea haha.

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  4. I am really excited to read this book after hearing so many people rave about it. Your review is excellent! I think I will go into reading this with less expectations so maybe I'll like it more? We'll see. I have problems with troubling characters not wanting to accept or let anyone in so it'll be interesting when I do get to it. :)

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    1. I think that's the best way to approach it - less expectations and an open mind. I am curious to see what other people think of it :)

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