Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Romance Novels - Junk Food for the Brain

Whenever I feel like my life is spinning dangerously out of control I find myself reading loads of schmaltzy contemporary romances. In my opinion (and this is my blog so I can voice it!) romance novels are a bit like junk food – completely lacking in substance but almost impossible to avoid completely. Just like their gastronomic counterparts, romance novels can be devoured in a single sitting with very little effort.

The truth is that whilst I wish that all my meals were cooked to perfection by the chefs at my favourite restaurant (Mrs Simpsons in Dullstroom South Africa, for those that are interested), and unhurriedly savoured over several bottles of a good Sauvignon Blanc, there are more opportunities for devouring MacDonalds burgers whilst catapulting through this thing called life.
Just as I have learnt to appreciate both fine cuisine and the guilty pleasure of junk food, I have come to terms with my need for both good literature and the guilty pleasure of relaxing in bed with an undemanding romance - complete with the obligatory HEA ending! (Happily Ever After for those not familiar with the secret code of romance lovers everywhere).

Sometimes, during one of my romance binges, I come across a novel that is worthy of a review, generally because it has more to offer than the usual fabulously rich dark and dangerous man meets sweet and innocent woman and falls obsessively in love.  The Sea of Tranquillity is one of these novels, and so I have taken a breather from the romances for the following review:  

The Sea of TranquilityThe Sea of Tranquillity by Katja Millay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novel has the same theme as numerous other Young Adult novels - an emotionally damaged boy meets an emotionally damaged girl and together they embark on a journey of healing and love. Despite the same-old, same-old storyline, I found myself completely engrossed and read the book from beginning to end in two sittings. This could be attributed to the mystery surrounding the events that led
to Nastya Kashnikov's refusal to speak. There are snippets of the event throughout the story and these slowly build towards the great reveal at the end. Along the way we meet some intriguing characters, including Nastya, (emotionally damaged girl), Josh (emotionally damaged boy) and Drew (the very appealing, happy-go-lucky playboy with far more depth than he will admit to).

There is just the right amount of sentimentality and angst, and none of the characters come across as whiney, snivelling wrecks. Josh channels his pain into the making of furniture and chooses not to engage with his peers. Nastya wears slutty clothing and make-up and cuts herself off completely from the world by refusing to speak. And then you have the charming Drew who is the catalyst that brings the two together, mostly because he is completely unaffected by their carefully constructed boundaries and barges right through them.

Overall this was a good read, and I look forward to more by this author.