I heard about this book initially because someone came into my work looking for it. It wasn't out in print yet, but then when someone else asked me about it I looked into it. It was getting such fantastic buzz that I had to look into it.
It was the first full-length book I bought (and read) on my Kobo.
Even reading the description I wasn't entirely sure what I was getting myself into. I think I am thankful for my lack of expectations. Unless someone was really clever with words I'm not sure I would have picked this up with just a general, straight-forward description. It's not really my typical type of book.
That being said it was a wonderful book.
And major spoilers are ahead.
What happened to Emilia is so horrifying and heartbreaking that it's impossible to imagine something like that happening. The worst of it is the complete and utter randomness of her attack. She just happened to be there. And without realizing what he was doing this boy comes along and completely decimates every part of her life.
Not be able to understand what going through something like that would be like, it's easy to see why Emilia reacted the way that she did, becoming Nastya. The way she was afraid to disappoint her family so she shut down. She couldn't lie so she stopped talking. It all makes a horrifically tragic sort of sense. Being in her head allowed us to see and make perfect sense of what she was doing, when everyone else was so frustrated.
Nastya is such a shattered character and she's so well aware of it. There's something about someone who's that broken letting themselves be broken. It's not acceptance exactly, because she still has these moments where she rallies against the hand that life's dealt her. She hasn't accepted what's happened but she thinks she's too broken to bother trying to fix. Despite this she hasn't quite given up hope that maybe things will get better, even just a little bit.
Millay makes a point of making Nastya so witty and funny. I loved the illogical but completely normal thoughts she has. Her reactions to things are so totally valid. Underneath all of the damage she is just a typical teenage girl. I love that Millay didn't take that from her. I loved Nastya. She's such a brilliant character all around.
Josh is an equally as brilliant character. He has lost almost everyone he's cared about so he makes a point of not making any new attachments. Keeping people at arm's length is his part of his way of coping. His other is making furniture. I love that he does wood working. It's such an uncommon and sort of adorable habit. He was such a teenage boy. Like majorly. But Millay does an awesome job of making him seem so old at the same time.
They have this awesome gradual relationship that sort of builds around their mutual broken avoidance of other people. Neither of them can stand being around other people so they sort of bond. Their shattered-ness is something that initially neither of them think that they need to fix about the other. In a really natural break down of their relationship Josh realizes that Nastya needs some sort of fixing, whether it's closure or acceptance. The problem is that he doesn't know what's wrong. Everything about their relationship comes across as perfectly natural. It's a logical progression and it all makes perfect sense.
This book is so much about what it means to be reborn. Emilia will never be the person that she used to be but she is trying to be someone else. There is that little bit of hope that she still has. the new life that she builds for herself is a disaster but it's something she has decided, something that she can control.
This book should have had an almost The Fault in Our Stars like quality to it that it doesn't. There's a similar sort of brokenness to the characters but it has a harder edge. I think it's the difference between having characters who know they are dying and have accepted it the best that they can and having characters who think they don't care if they are. There's still so much fight left in Nastya and Josh even if they don't always see it. But I never quite cared about them like I do Hazel and Gus. While Millay makes them easy to relate to she never quite manages to make them as human as Green manages. They are always defined by what happened to them as opposed to Hazel and Gus who fight to avoid it.
Overall I really enjoyed The Sea of Tranquility. It's a fantastic story with well crafted characters and a lovely relationship.
I give it a rating of Massively Epic.
If you like the real-life damaged character story you should definitely read The Sea of Tranquility. I don't think you'll be disappointed. It's out in e-book now and will be out in print on June 20th (I think).
Next I'm finally reading Neil Gaiman's American Gods. I have heard such mixed reviews of this one so I am interested to finally jump in.
Until next time,