Sekret by Lindsay Smith
Release Date: April 1st, 2014
Publisher: Macmillan Children's
Source: Publisher via Netgalley
Genre: Historical Fiction/Paranormal
Rating: 4 STARS
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.
Enriched with history, Sekret portrays a realistic description of the world and the USSR nearing the end of the Cold War. I did think it was pretty similar to X-Men First Class with it taking place during the Cold War and the mind powers except Sekret being the Russian/KGB version. What I think that could have been worked on was the mission itself because there was more of an emphasis on the American spy which I understand but at the same time having more details on the space race. Other than that, the plot was executed well and the history was used well to the story's advantage. Then there are the mind powers that each character had. Seeing the different powers like clairvoyance and mind control were to be expected but what was different and new was the power to visualize a place/"be" in the place without actually being there.
Yulia was a character that was easy to relate to and sympathize to. All her emotions and actions to escape were justifiable and we see that change as she realizes that she can't be impulsive. It's truly amazing how selfless she was and how far she would go for her family. It was cool seeing how she would use her power to her advantage and the way it worked especially the way the KGB used all their powers together. I wanted to slap Kruzenko, their KGB handler, when we first meet her. I hate the way she was able to control Yulia and expect them to be grateful for what they've done. Seeing this opposing group against the gradual changes and favoring Stalin's idea helped form a new perspective.
I had a like/dislike relationship with Sergei. He helped bring some light to some scenes but also had this different mindset which brought conflict with Yulia's thinking. However, it was easy to understand why he thought the way he did. I loved Valentin the first time Yulia saw him! He just had this mysterious aura and one you could easily tell that he would be the best person to trust. It was also nice seeing the friendship bloom between Lara and Yulia and how they were able to support one another. The twins, Misha and Masha, were characters I ALWAYS got mixed up for some reason and could never really hate. They were just there being their annoying selves.
Original, distinct, and refreshing from other YA books, Sekret is not a book to miss out on especially for historical fiction and paranormal/mind power lovers! Full of espionage, duty, loyalty, and of course secrets, what's not to love? Happy Readings!