Monday, June 30, 2014

Review: "Sekret" by Lindsay Smith

An empty mind is a safe mind. Yulia knows she must hide her thoughts and control her emotions to survive in Communist Russia. But if she sometimes manipulates the black market traders by reading their thoughts when she touches their skin, so what? Anything to help her survive. Russia's powerful spy agency, the KGB, is recruiting young people with mind-reading capabilities for their psychic espionage program. Their mission: protect the Soviet space program from American CIA spies. Why shouldn't the KGB use any means necessary to make the young psychic cooperate? Anything to beat the American capitalist scum to the moon. Yulia is a survivor. She won't be controlled by the KGB, who want to harness her abilities for the State with no regard for her own hopes and dreams. She won't let handsome Sergei plan her life as a member of elite Soviet society, or allow brooding Valentin to consume her with his dangerous mind and even more dangerous ideas. And she certainly won't become the next victim of the powerful American spy who can scrub a brain raw—and seems to be targeting Yulia.
Thank you to Netgalley and Macmillan Children's Publishing Group for allowing me to read and review an ARC of this book.

Definitely one of the more unique books I've read in a while.  I think my favourite thing about "Sekret" is actually the setting.  Russia right in the middle of the Cold War?  Can't be beat for suspense and intrigue.

Straight out of the gate, we can tell that Yulia is special.  She tries to hide her psychic abilities, but the KGB eventually finds her and "recruits" her into their program.  Here she meets six other teenagers, all with varying psychic abilities, and is trained to use her power.  All sorts of things happen, and I won't go into detail about them, but just know that the plot is fairly well-paced and it's difficult for Yulia to know who to trust, adding to the suspense.

Yulia herself is likable enough, but I didn't really connect with her.  Perhaps it's because she had to try and keep a lot of her thoughts and feelings "sekret" (sorry, I had to!).  I think the author did a great job with the villains, though - they were just normal people (with psychic powers) who believed so strongly in what they were doing that they didn't mind if others were hurt in the crossfire.  Collateral damage and all that.  Villains just seem more creepy to me when they're portrayed as such.

There were a few times, like during the team's missions, where I got kind of lost and had trouble following the action.  But, for the most part, "Sekret" is a fast-paced, intriguing read.

My rating:

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