29 July 2013

Review: The Sea of Tranquility

The Sea of Tranquility
The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm not entirely sure what I expected when I went in on The Sea of Tranquility. A friend read it late last year and has been raving about it ever since, but my standards for contemporary young adult fiction has become really high, having read so much of it. The title is vague enough where I thought I might have been going in on a science fiction title, but it turns out that this is not only one of the better contemporary young adult titles I've read in some time, but also sets the bar fairly high for the genre.

The story itself is pretty basic. On one side, you have Josh, a loner type for all sorts of reasons. On the other is the new girl, Nastya, who is brooding and mysterious and went through something really bad that isn't revealed until later. She and Josh begin a relationship of sorts - it's not really a romance, but it's hard to call it a friendship, either. Regardless, they become unwittingly dependent on each other as they navigate the reality of high school and the craziness that goes along with it.

It feels like a standard trope, but the story is much, much more than that. For one, it is extremely realistic. Nothing seems out of place or contrived for plot purposes, it just feels like a dark time for a few kids in high school. The adult characters are basically nonexistent, the teens genuine. Everything feels like it rings true, and that sort of voice, frankly, seems rare in a lot of the genre.

There's plenty to love within the darkness of the book, too. There's plenty of realistic sexual tension, solid handling of very difficult issues, and an ending that was both surprising and satisfying. I can't say enough good things about it at this point.

Highly recommended. Get your hands on this if you're looking for a change from what seems to be published over and over.

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