I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Series: Sekret #1
Published by Macmillian Children's, Roaring Book Press on April 1st, 2014
Genres: Historical Fiction, Science Fiction, Young Adult
From debut author Lindsay Smith comes an espionage thriller with a dash of both history and dystopia.
Yulia’s father always taught her that an empty mind is a safe mind. She has to hide her thoughts and control her emotions to survive in Communist Russia, especially because she seems to be able to read the minds of the people she touches. When she’s captured by the KGB and forced to work as a psychic spy with a mission to undermine the U.S. space program, she’s thrust into a world of suspicion, deceit, and horrifying power where she can trust no one.
She certainly can’t trust Rostov, the cruel KGB operative running the psychic program. Or handsome Sergei who encourages her to cooperate with the KGB. Or brooding Valentin who tells her to rebel against them. And not the CIA, who have a psychic so powerful he can erase a person’s mind with his own thoughts. Yulia quickly learns she must rely on her own wits and power to survive in this world where no SEKRET can stay hidden for long.
Set in 1960’s Space Race, Cold War, Communist Russia, this book follows a young girl with psychic powers as she rebels against the destiny the government has set forth for her.
Yulia can read minds and events through touch. It doesn’t matter whether she’s touching an inanimate object or a person, she can glean information from any source. This power only surfaces after her family goes into hiding and her father leaves. Eventually, the KGB (the main security agency in Russia) finds her and takes her in. She is forced to live in a school with other psychics in order to hone her talents. The government wants to use this psychic force to stop terrorist threats and insurgency within the nation.
Yulia’s first thought is of escape, but it’s hard to plan an escape when her thoughts are visible to her fellow classmates and to her teachers. She learns to hide thoughts and though coerced with her family’s safety to remain put, she continues to dream of leaving the Russian dutiful life behind.
When a team of Americans show up to sabotage a secret rocket launch, it throws Yulia into the thick of things but also gives her hope and a chance of escape.
I know very little about Russia, let’s be honest, so I don’t know how plausible the history is. Still, the author weaves a wonderful look at life and events for that time, melding the fantastical psychic element into them seamlessly.
The characters are well rounded and their powers are varied in both execution and strength. There is a brief, but still standard love triangle which splits abruptly despite revival. The singular romance continues unabated, but doesn’t overwhelm the story or the action.
The book takes plenty of twists and turns, but after a certain point I had grasped the thread and latched onto the hints. That left me less than surprised at most of the reveals. This didn’t take away from the story, but the shock and awe would have been felt deeper had there remained an air of mystery.
Still, I found the book to be intriguing and enjoyable up until the end. Seeing that this is the first in a series of books, I will most assuredly be picking up the next installment.