Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Sea of Tranquility (review)

4/5 stars

The Sea of Tranquility (GoodreadsAmazon) is a rare novel.  It's been a couple weeks since I've read it and I hadn't reviewed it because I was still pondering.  The writing is so evocative it almost feels like I need to step away and look at it with fresh eyes. But once I start thinking about the story, the feelings hit me again.  If this book does anything it makes you feel.  The emotions are so vivid that I can't imagine not emotionally connecting with this story, even if it's not your typical type of story.

Written in dual point of views, The Sea of Tranquility follows Nastya Kashnikov and Josh Bennett, two very different very broken people.  Nastya has just transferred schools, an attempt to get away from her old life and everyone who knew her before a terrible attack ruined her future as a professional piano player.  Nastya couldn't deal with former friends and family, especially since she made the decision to stop talking.  At a glance, Josh Bennett is strong and solid.  At school he's set apart, not because he's a loser or a loner but because he wants to be left alone.  After losing his family one-by-one, Josh is alone and that's how he likes it.  If he doesn't care about anyone, he can't lose them.

You can probably see what worries me about this novel.  Two broken people falling for each other and magically being fixed.  People can't be fixed like that.  Relationships don't fix people.  However, this book realizes that.  Nastya and Josh are drawn to each other because they both want to be left alone. Even unspoken, they recognize that they both have experienced a tragedy.  The book is self-aware enough to realize that this isn't and, under the circumstances, can't possibly be a healthy, lasting situation for the two of them.  As broken people, they have to make a conscious decision to save themselves.
"When I walk through the front door of the very out of place Victorian-style house I grew up in, I feel home. The feeling only lasts a moment. It's not real. It's just a knee-jerk reaction; an echo of a feeling that used to exist.  Just once, I'd like to go home and have home be what it used to be.  Then again, maybe I'm just imagining some sort of halcyon days that exist more in my memory than they ever did in real life." 
The writing feel very authentic, often powerful in it's simplicity.  It's meant to make you feel the emotions rather than paint a picture.  To me, this is more powerful than any overly descriptive prose because it invokes the readers feelings and concept of home.

Another strong point about this book is the characters.  Rather than depending on the cliched high school personality, this book delves into the characters deeper.  Creating a pretty playboy, who is not just a jackass, "mean girls" who really aren't that mean and have personalities themselves and even villains that are complex.  Nobody is perfect. Nobody is wholly evil.  This is how I like my realism, with an awareness that everyone has a story and normally there's more to it than meets the eye.

This book impressed me, addressing all my misgivings and creating a character-driven story that transcends the dual narrator, broken people trope.  For those whole like contemporary or complex character, this is a book well worth reading.

I received an advanced reading ebook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 


Wendy Darling said...

Hey Cassi--I'm so glad you ended up enjoying this! It surprised me too, in all the best ways.

Incidentally, what's your new Facebook page? I tried to find it but wasn't able to. :)

Cassi Haggard said...

It's always good to have a pleasant surprise from a book. Sometimes there are far too many unpleasant ones.

Here is my facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/GalavantingGirlBooks
I need to update my social buttons on the site but I keep putting it off because it involves photoshop/html/time.