Publisher: Antisocialite Press LLC (September 5, 2012)
Format: Kindle edition
Reviewed by: Judith
Under mysterious circumstances, former piano prodigy Nastya moves in with her aunt, Margot, and begins her senior year at a new school sporting some nasty scars and the inability to talk to anyone. Under self-imposed mutism, she absorbs everything around her and slowly learns that there are other students here as damaged as she is, most notably would-be carpenter Josh and playboy Drew.
As she grows closer to them both, she learns their own sad stories and after a year of not talking, she finally chooses to speak in order to make some semblance of friends. Over time though it becomes apparent that she and Josh are drawn to one another and these two forge a tentative relationship. Too soon it is brutally destroyed and they must deal with the aftermath. Alone each attempts to find redemption from the past and salvation in the future. But inexplicably these two are drawn together again and they must discover if they are strong enough to face their pasts together.
True story: like a lot of bloggers, I like to keep up on what’s going on in YA and lately, everywhere I look, someone has been talking about this book. It seems to have come out of nowhere and wowed everyone in a very vocal way. Only problem is, they all seem to find it too heavy to discuss directly after finishing. This means I’ve spent quite a few days of wondering if it was too difficult to discuss immediately because it was, you know, bad or if it was just so gosh darn amazing everyone needed to process its perfection before doing it justice. ”Which is it?!” I shouted at some facebook updates. “Worth the read or not?” So I must tell you now–I finished reading this literally 2 minutes ago (and yes, that totally is the correct use of literally as it’s 11:52 and I actually stopped reading at 11:50) and can only say that you should NOT hem and haw with indecision like me: this is one fabulous read! Don’t get me wrong, it’s pretty painful to read. Your heartstrings and mind are forced to relive some very brutal events in Nastya’s past and present. There’s some events that happen between her and Josh where you’ll be confused about the whys and ready to scream because it’s just not fair. But set within the framework of understanding that this is a love story between two broken people, you begin to accept the crap knowing that the path to redemption makes it worth every tear you will shed.
It is very well written for a debut, telling a story about a ruined musical prodigy and the people she meets who finally help her come to grips with what she’s suffered. It alternates between Nastya and Josh’s viewpoints allowing us to get a glimpse into the minds of each and to see how must they need each other to find peace. My only caveat is that they have very similar internal voices and occasionally a chapter will end as Josh and then continue on in the next chapter as Josh with it clearly noted everywhere. And yet, I couldn’t figure out if it really was his story unfolding or not. Again, the two separate voices weren’t delineated as well as could be hoped but on the flip side, it made Josh seem much more approachable than your average teenage guy.
If you don’t take anything else from this review, there’s one thing you must know about this book: Sea of Tranquility contains perhaps the best closing line I’ve ever read in a YA novel. No, really. My mind simply cannot get over what a pitch perfect ending this was; there’s like this total a-ha moment when you fully understand some random comment the author makes 200 pages prior and everything just falls into place in a way you never see coming. I read that line and as if it contained two tiny darts aimed directly for my eyes, I started crying immediately. Any book that can cue my waterworks so quickly earns high marks from me.
So in the end, I’m giving this 9/10.
Based on the following criteria:
How much did I like the heroine:8. I get it, I really do. Nastya has had some very tough stuff to deal with–loss of her dreams, dealing with life after music, not being able to communicate so stopping altogether. She did a remarkable job of not becoming too crazy and depressed. But there were times when I wanted to shake her and be all, “girl, pull it together! It’s been more than a year. Talk already! Yeah you lost your dreams but you have a ton of people who want nothing more than for you to get better. Stop being so selfish.” Cause she was a bit selfish and self-absorbed. Yes, she had to deal with some atrocities but Josh lost all of his family within 10 years and he’s not forcing himself to be mute or treating everyone who cares about her like crap. So while I liked Nastya and thought she was a good foil for Josh, I wish she wasn’t so wrapped up in her own problems in order to see the good things around her.
How much did I like the love interest:9. Josh is a great guy–tormented in his own right due to the complete loss of all his loved ones but never devolving into jerkdom. He tries his hardest to be what Nastya needs, giving her time and not pushing her into being someone or something she’s not. He’s a teenage boy and never pushes his wants before hers. He’s also thoughtful and sweet and sounds oh so sexy when he starts talking carpentry talk. I want him to come build me a coffee table if you know what I’m saying (yeah, me neither – ha).
How believable is the plot: 10. This is a love story but also a story of redemption and loss which makes it that much more believable. Josh and Nastya’s story is full of heart-wrenching stuff and a lot of near misses make it read like the real deal.
How much did I like the writing style/editing/etc: 9. Katja Millay surprised me with how well written this was! There were practically no editing issues, the story flows very well, and as mentioned above, the ending caught me totally by surprise and really tied up 1 particular loose end nicely.
How much did I want to keep reading: 9. Very well written story but at times dragged a bit mainly because I felt like Nastya was having one big pity party. But other than that, I’d read more about Josh any day. That kid and his particular version of redemption and salvation are oh so sexy.
Final Score: 9/10. Get it! You won’t be disappointed and this is definitely a YA read with a spin we haven’t seen before!
****Disclaimer: I got this book for free from the author. I swear I didn’t bribe her in any way, or get paid for my review. And we might not be legit enough to need this disclaimer but after working at a law firm for many years it’s better safe than sorry!****