One of the (very few) things that stinks about being a writer is that I feel like it’s wrong to give my honest opinions on books I read. Maybe because it’s what I do for a living now, and it sort of feels like dogging the competition. So I just don’t do it. I don’t review anything. Good or bad.
I do, however, sometimes read books that I can’t NOT contain my love for. I get a lot of requests for recommendations from people for books that I’ve loved, and although I don’t like to review books, I still LOVE to read. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to read.
Another thing that makes it hard for me to talk/post about books I’ve read is that I don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings by not mentioning their book, especially if they know I’ve read it. I have a lot of author friends whose books I’ve loved, and some whose books just aren’t really my style. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t great books. However, to save feelings, I just don’t review at all anymore because I love my friends and I love to read and I don’t even know what I’m trying to say apple hats dammit!!!
But regardless of all the books I’ve loved, and all the books I’ve hated and all the books I’ve felt indifferent about, there are a select few that rip out a little piece of my soul and breathe life into it, then place it right back where it came from. Books like the amazing Fault in Our Stars, and Easy, or Everyday and a book by Jessica Park that isn’t out yet but I got to read and I just love, love, love it so much. Which brings me to the whole point of this post.
The Sea of Freaking Tranquility by Katja Millay. (Okay, freaking isn’t part of the title, but dammit if I can’t type it any other way.)
This book. Oh my god, this book. I’m not going to review it. I’m not going to assign it stars (there wouldn’t be enough, anyway.) I’m just going to talk about how much I loved it, and attempt to explain why. I’m breaking all my own rules, but if they’re getting broken, this is the book that I will gladly let break them.
First of all, this book is an Indie book. What that means is, the authors publish the books themselves (initially) with no help from agents, content editors, copy editors, unicorn editors. Nothing. Indie’s write books and throw them out in the world and hope people fall in love with their un-professionally edited characters as much as they do.
Let me just say, if anyone…and I mean ANYONE (editors and author alike) touches a single word in this book or tries to change a character or dialogue or setting or anything at all, I will find them. I will find them and I will go all nastypants on them.
Moving along. The story.
I don’t even know what the blurb of this story says. I was recommended the book by Sarah Augustus Hansen and since Sarah and I have similar tastes in favorites, I read pretty much everything she recommends without blurb checking. Well, I say I read everything she recommends, but I’ve also been trying to write, so I banned her from recommending anything to me. Ever. Until January, at least.
So when I got this message from Sarah that just said, “I know you said no more books until January. Sea of Tranquility. That is all.” –I knew it was a definite, read it right now sort of book.
So that’s what I did. And when my computer, kindle, iPad and iPhone all died at 5:30 a.m. and halfway through the book, I thought I was going to die.
What’s the book about, you ask? I can’t even begin to explain it. But I’ll try.
It’s about a girl who experiences something in her past, then meets a boy and yada yada yada. Yeah, that’s it. That’s all I’m giving you. Because nothing, NOTHING I say about what the book is about or the blurb or the reviews can convince you to read it like Katja’s writing can.
And I can’t tell if it’s her writing style or her characters that I’m in love with more. I was telling someone earlier that it’s as though she crafts each sentence as if it’s the absolute core of the book. But how can every single sentence be the core of a book? Somehow, hers are. There isn’t a single word that she hasn’t carefully thought out, or that doesn’t belong. There isn’t a single line of dialogue that is stilted or awkward. You start reading and you get sucked into a garage covered in sawdust and you never, ever, ever want to leave. At least I didn’t want to, anyway.
With all that said, I realize there will be people that don’t like this book. (Although, I can’t imagine it.) The beauty of loving to read is having a variety right at your fingertips. If we all liked to read the same thing, then all books would be the same and how boring would that be? So maybe you won’t like it. Or maybe you will… but you’ll only just like it instead of love it. You’ll just like it and shrug and think, “Why the hell did Colleen love this so much? It was okay.” And you know what? That’s okay. If you don’t like it, we’ll just chalk it up to the Jodi Affect.
Maybe while I was reading it, the planets and stars in my world aligned at the right moment for this book and I just really needed it at that particular point in my life. Maybe if I would have read it on a Tuesday, I wouldn’t have had the same feelings toward it because I hate Tuesdays. Maybe if my husband would have been up watching sports, rather than sleeping in his bed, the noise from the television would have irritated me and that irritation would have transferred over to my love for this book and it would have just wound up being an ‘okay’ book when I finished it. Who knows? I wish I could pinpoint something in the book that makes me come up with the answer as to why I loved it so much. Like if I were to open it to page 65 and say, “See there? They love The Avett Brothers! That’s why I love this book!”
But the book doesn’t even mention The Avett Brothers, or diet pepsi, or Hazel the pig, so I can’t really say why it’s so special to me. And now I’m ruining this whole blog post by saying a whole bunch of absolutely nothing! I don’t even know why anyone is still reading this blog post. If you are, I commend you. Now go download this book and actually read something worth reading, then come back and tell me what you thought of it.
And just a little side note. I published my first book ten months ago as indie, so I know how tough it is to get an indie book out there on your own without having a readership built up. I’ve had an incredibly lucky year, and thanks to you guys, an incredible group of readers. I thought about doing a giveaway for The Sea of Tranquility, just to get people to share the link to this book so the author can get more sales and hopefully her ranking would increase on Amazon and the book would receive the amount of success it deserves. But then I decided not to do a giveaway, because I thought it would look like I was just trying to help out a fellow indie author by promoting her book.
That is the LAST thing I want this to seem like. I am sharing my love for this book as a reader. Not as an author or a friend (I didn’t even know her before reading the book last week) but simply as a reader who has found “that book.” That book I can always go to, forever and ever, when I want to feel something good. So thank you, Katja Millay, for giving me that.