Rainy Day Reads

sea of tranquility book cover

Sea of Tranquility

by Emily St. John Mandel
“If there’s pleasure in action, there’s peace in stillness.”
Genres: Science Fiction
Print Length: 259 Pages
Publication Date: April, 5 2022
Publisher: Knopf

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After being listed as one of the best books of 2022 by Good Reads, I was excited to delve into Sea of Tranquility. Nevertheless, my expectations were unfulfilled as the beginning of the book lacked pace and made it challenging to engage with the storyline. Despite the plot being captivating enough to maintain my interest, the novel had too many flaws for me to endorse it as a recommended read.

The story begins in 1912, with a young Englishman by the name of Edwin St. Andrew. He has just arrived in Canada, where he has set out to embark on a new life after being exiled by his wealthy family. Outside of the new settlement where he is residing, he finds and experiences a sudden and unexplainable event while exploring the woods. Decades later, in 1994, thirteen-year-old Vincent Smith records a similar experience on a video camera while walking through the same woods. The glitch on her video includes sudden darkness, accompanied by the sound of a violin, and an unexplained whooshing sound. Even more bizarrely, in the year 2203, an author named Olive Llewellyn, who lives on the second moon colony, writes about a character in her novel who experiences a similar phenomenon at an Oklahoma City Airship Terminal. Despite being separated by time and space, these experiences seem interconnected, begging the question of whether something truly inexplicable is happening.

The way this book is structured is one of the intriguing aspects of the story. It takes place from multiple viewpoints and timelines, leaving the reader wondering throughout, how the story will unfold and eventually be tied together. The author does an admirable job of transporting the reader by providing descriptive details of the surroundings in both past and future timelines. Sadly, this marked the end of the book’s positive aspects.

The element of this story that particularly disappointed me was the lack of character development. As a result, I struggled to form an attachment to any of the characters portrayed in the book. The primary protagonist, whose name I will not disclose to prevent revealing spoilers, was uninteresting and unrelatable. Furthermore, his decision-making seemed erratic and implausible throughout the narrative. After finishing this book, I became aware that some of the characters featured were also appear in other novels penned by the same author. Although this revelation may resolve some of the character development concerns, if that is the case, this book should be categorized as a sequel rather than a standalone novel.

While the book was a fast read, another frustration I had was the inclusion of short chapters scattered throughout the story, some as brief as a single paragraph. This puzzled me as it seemed superfluous, especially since those pages could have been utilized for enhancing character development. Similarly, I found the author’s writing style somewhat convoluted, which compelled me to reread certain sections multiple times. 

This book might appeal to you if you’re seeking a fast-paced read with multiple timelines spanning history and the future, accompanied by adequate world-building. However, for me, there were too many obstacles that the book failed to overcome. As a result, I cannot recommend this one. 


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