“In short: Though The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay is an emotionally draining novel, it is also one that will leave you breathless from the outstanding beauty of the characters and the writing.
This book is angst-central. Nastya and Josh, the novel's alternating narrators, are two terribly defeated and depressed characters. They are both subject to some pretty appalling situations, which they deal with over the course of the novel. I usually find myself becoming annoyed with characters that are so angsty, but for some reason I found it didn't bother me in The Sea of Tranquility. Perhaps because debut author Katja Millay does such a brilliant job at showcasing her characters and their circumstances with such genuine and raw emotional depth that you can't help but truly FEEL what they are going through with painful clarity.
Alright, so that doesn't sound like so much fun, so let me clarify: The Sea of Tranquility is about a lot of pain, but through all that hardship, there is HOPE. There is no way I could have enjoyed this novel otherwise. Nastya and Josh can be fairly depressing - though still expertly written - but they do have an excellent support system in the form of some equally well written secondary characters who provide a much needed lightness to contrast all the despair. Plus, while the journey is hard, the ending is beautiful.
I think some people will probably find The Sea of Tranquility to be a bit slow in the beginning and hard to get into. For me, however, I feel that slow start was needed to ease myself into this incredibly draining story. And I urge anyone who is having a difficult time getting into the story to keep reading as what you will find in the end is a beautiful and heartfelt story that will stay with you long after you close the book.
In other news, I am becoming something of a contemporary-issues genre fan! Well... it has really just been The Sea of Tranquility and one other book a few months ago, but dammit if they weren't both truly amazing reads that left a profound effect on me. I am just impressed that someone like me - Miss Speculative Fiction Addict - could be finding new loves in realistic fiction, especially ones with such serious subject matter. Shows that it pays to go outside your comfort zone every once in a while! I HIGHLY recommend The Sea of Tranquility to both contemporary and non-contemporary fans.”