Author: Lindsay Smith
Genre: YA Sci-Fi
Series: Sekret (Book #1)
Publication Date: April 1, 2014
Format: Hardcover, 337 Pages
ISBN-10: 1596438923 (Mac Teen Books)
ISBN-13: 978-1596438927 (Mac Teen Books)
Reviewed by: Bridget
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.
Quick & Dirty: A slow start, but overall a very unique read full of suspense, romance and a wonderful setting.
Opening Sentence: My rules for the black market are simple.
It is the year 1963 in the communist country of Russia. Yulia has been in hiding for the last three years with her mother and handicap brother. Her parents were once very prominent members of the government, but now they are considered traitors. They have been successful in staying under the radar for all these years, but their luck is about the change. Yulia has always had a weird psychic ability, where if she touches someone or something she can see their past memories. It has been very useful while on the run, but it ends up attracting unwanted attention. The KGB end up capturing her and it turns out they have a unit full of psychics. In order to keep her family safe she agrees to become a spy to help bring down the U.S. space program. Thrown into a world full of lies, Yulia doesn’t know who she can trust.
With determination to escape and get her family back, Yulia has to learn how to fully use her powers, but the only way to do that is to learn from her captors. Keeping secrets from someone that can read your mind proves to be difficult and Yulia realizes that she is going to need allies. Sergei is attractive and very friendly, but he is very loyal to the KGB. Then there is Valentin, a boy that plays beautiful music and encourages Yulia to rebel. Yulia soon realizes that the advice her father gave her as a child is more valuable than she ever thought possible…“An empty mind is a safe mind!”
Yulia was a very unique character and I really liked her. Even though her very comfortable life was taken away, and now she is basically a prisoner, she never complains, which I really liked. She always stays strong and positive, which was refreshing. She is also very smart and resourceful, which made it so she could take care of herself. I always love when a girl is bright and spirited, yet still has vulnerable girly traits as well. She was an easy character to connect with and she had a great voice throughout the whole book.
There was a whole cast of secondary characters that I’m not going to go into big detail about because there are too many, but every single one of them played a very important role in the story coming together. Each one of them had an interesting story and I loved getting to know all of them. There are two boys that show interest in Yulia, but the romance is very subtle, so there’s no need to worry about the love triangle. I hope that we will get to see more of all the characters in the next book.
I wanted to start off by saying that this was very different from what I thought it was going to be. I had heard about some stellar reviews before I started this, so I was really excited for it and it was a little disappointing at first. I was expecting a fast paced book that I would fly through and for me the start was really slow. I kept having to force myself to read it for about half the book, but after I adjusted to the pacing, I actually really enjoyed it. I feel like I might have judged it a little harshly at first because it was so different from what I was anticipating, and that made me enjoy it less than I should have. With that all being said, this ended up being a wonderful story full of intrigue, suspense, and romance. Smith’s idea was very unique and the setting was fascinating with all the historical references. The characters were interesting and plot had some great twists that kept me guessing. Even though it started out slow, I ended up really enjoying this book and would highly recommend everyone give it a try.
Sergei’s hand touches my shoulder. It burns with conflicting emotions: sadness? Anger? “Yulia, you have to stop thinking about escape. It’s too dangerous.”
“What do you care?” A barge sounds its horn; I peer over the balcony ledge. If it were straight down, I could survive it, but the embankment slopes just enough…
“Maybe I don’t. You wouldn’t be the first to try.” He shrugs. “But believe me, if there’s one thing I’ve learned here … There are worse things than a bullet in the back, a broken neck. What they can do to your brain, or your family’s…”
Sergei flinches; his gaze roves anxiously, unsettled. I step from him, not liking the sudden darkness I sense on his skin.
“Death would be mercy,” he says. “For you and your family both.”
FTC Advisory: Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan Children’s provided me with a copy of Sekret. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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