April 24, 2014

A Place to Belong

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

Release Date: June 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster | Atria Books
Pages: 448 pages
Source & Format: Bought; Kindle e-book
Amazon | Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads)
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 who loves has been taken from his life until, at seventeen years old, there is no one left. Now all he wants is to 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 intensified 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.

Thoughts on The Sea of Tranquility
I actually bought The Sea of Tranquility in January 2013, which I know only because that was when I started sharing what books I'd bought each month on my blog. Why is that date significant? Well, it wasn't long after I'd returned to blogging after a six-month hiatus, and I'm pretty sure it was before I discovered the amazingness that is Kelly from Belle of the Literati.

What prompted me to buy the book? I have absolutely no idea. Maybe I saw positive Goodreads reviews? Maybe I liked the sample? Maybe a blogger I followed at the time reviewed it? The reason why is now a mystery to me because the summary alone really doesn't sound like something I'd pick up on my own. But the heart of the matter remains the same: this book languished on my Kindle for more than a year. It sat there, unread, containing untold amounts of goodness that I was missing out on with every single day that passed.

Thankfully, Kelly came into the picture. She wouldn't shut up about this book! I noticed it on her blog a lot, so it always stayed there in the back of my mind when I thought about books that I owned but still hadn't read. One day, I came right out and asked her: do I need to move this up on my TBR? I'm not going to lie - her resounding yes was pretty convincing. And then I found out Betty from Book Rock Betty was about to read it, too! Impromptu read-along? Sure thing, sugar.

The Sea of Tranquility is the perfect example of why I typically avoid participating in read-alongs. As much as I love the idea of them, I really struggle with actually doing them. I either lose interest in the book and fall behind or... I enjoy the book so much that I race ahead and finish long before everyone else. I'm hoping you can guess that this book fell into the latter category. Y'all, for the first time ever, I was trying to sneak pages of a book in at work. Every time I would try to work on something my mind would just went back to Nastya and Josh. Every time. Betty and Kelly can attest to this fact because a) Kelly and I had a long, fangirl-y text conversation going on where we discussed the many reasons this book had me under its spell and b) Betty was barely getting started and couldn't believe how much I'd already read. Eeep!

I don't even really know what to say. I started out a bit skeptical and, honestly, worried about what I'd say to Kelly if I didn't love it as much as she did. Pushing a book on someone is scary, especially when it's one of your all-time favorite books ever. And it's a little scary as a reader to read something based on someone else's recommendation when they love it in such a personal way. Thankfully, I fell for The Sea of Tranquility in a way I didn't totally didn't see coming. This book exemplifies why I get so mad at myself for buying books and leaving them unread for months+ at a time. Why did I wait so long to discover the beauty inside its pages?

This was the third book I read this year, and it immediately got five stars from me (which I haven't changed since - something I notoriously do after I've had more time to think about a book). I'm just now "reviewing" it because I couldn't really figure out what I wanted to say about it. How do you talk about a book that you loved so much that you can't really discuss it analytically? Listen, I know this book had some flaws. I can think of a few minor things that didn't totally work for me. But overall? I was a giddy reader on the high that comes when you find a new favorite read.

And yes, I'm aware that it's a book I've told you nothing about at this point. Oh well! Nastya and Josh are two of my very favorite characters I've discovered in a long time, and their interactions had such a poignancy to them. I can remember so many scenes from this book so specifically, which is a miracle because my mind basically empties itself of all small details about a book after I finish it. (Yes, Kelly can attest to this fact, too. Trying to fangirl with me while you read something that I read a while ago is basically impossible. I'm sorry! I want to remember, I really do.)

I closed this book with a huge grin on my face, and I immediately wanted to read it again. I haven't re-read it yet, but I totally will before the end of the year. The Sea of Tranquility is emotional, romantic, heartbreaking, infuriating, hilarious, amazing, intense and just downright wonderful. Adjective overload? Maybe. But it's totally deserving!

Plenty of bloggers can give you a better idea of what to expect from The Sea of Tranquility, and maybe one day I'll write a "re-read" review where I actually talk about the book and not just my reaction to it. For now, I think this is a fitting tribute to a book that sat on my shelf for more than a year and was totally deserving of my attention long before that. The Sea of Tranquility was a new all-time favorite for me! This book is really something special.

So Quotable
"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."

11 comments:

  1. I've been on the fence about this one. Good to know how much you liked it -- the coveted "so obsessed with" no less!

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    1. I really did love it! I had a few minor, minor things that I could nitpick about but I truly only thought about them after the fact and it didn't diminish my love for the book at all.

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  2. WHERE do I even begin with this?! I love all your flailing and feels and that you had the best experience reading it! AND I am totally brushing my shoulders off about the fact that this is the only book you tried to read at work...I remember that picture text. Amazing! I seriously love this review so much and I cannot wait for your re-read!! I'll read it again!!! :):):)

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    1. Hahaha! Seriously, you know it's good when I'm sneaking onto the Kindle Cloud Reader at my computer. Eeeeep! Plus, I'm pretty sure I bought the paperback like a day after I finished reading it on my Kindle. Total success!

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  3. Oh, PS I loved the title of your post. Just noticed that...fail.

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    1. YAY! I was hoping you'd notice it - especially you're the queen of clever titles.

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  4. It's always a wonderful feeling to find yourself falling in love with a book/series that a friend has "book pushed" on you! I'm glad you wound up falling in love with The Sea of Tranquility. It's a beautifully written book, with such wonderful turns of phrase. While I didn't love it nearly as much as you or Kelly, it was still definitely a solid read.

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    1. I know! I'm so glad when book pushing works out :) I can totally see how this one wouldn't work for everyone, but I was so caught up in it while I was reading that I was basically blind to any flaws until after I'd finished. Haha!

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  5. I loved this book too!! It was soooo good.

    I felt like a total idiot at the beginning because I totally missed that she wasn't actually talking to anyone (and maybe that was b/c I started this one on audiobook so she was technically "talking" the whole time, lol). I loved how this book wasn't about them finding resolution within each other. (hello co-dependency: a common YA trope) I LOVED "He hasn't given me a place to sit. He's given me a place to belong." <3 ahhh. So beautiful. I wasn't expecting to love this one so very much. It's one of my top reads so far this year.

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  6. Sometimes these reviews that are more about reader interactions/experiences with the text rather than about the story itself are more enjoyable to read. That was certainly the case here! I'm so annoyed I didn't get a copy of this book back when it was self-published/super cheap. Oh well. Perhaps I'll snag a copy from the library soon.
    And instead of beating yourself up over taking so long to read it, just be happy that you finally did read it and got to enjoy the story. :) (That's what I try to tell myself whenever I'm in similar situations.)

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  7. Soooooo glad you loved this one! I read it... gosh, in 2012? And I still feel in love with it today! It was just so perfect in so many ways. I read so beautifully and it made my heart ache too. I snuck it in at work and was trying not to cry at my desk haha! :)
    SO happy you loved it! This book just really seems to hit a note with just about everyone! :D

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