Title: Sekret (Sekret #1)
Author: Lindsay Smith
Publisher: Roaring Book Press (Macmillan)
Acquired Via: NetGalley
Release Date: April 1, 2014
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.
You can read Kayla's review of Sekret HERE.
Yulia gets abducted by the KGB because she has special psychic powers and they need her in the Russian’s race to space and the Cold War against the U.S. I really liked the story and was immediately interested - spies, the KGB and the CIA. But, it was really slow in parts. When the psychics are going on missions and we are learning about the KGB or the race to space, it was entertaining. When they are back at the mansion and Yulia is either plotting (and failing, because she’s plotting in a house full of psychics) or moping, it was slow and easy for me to put the book down. I’m still a little confused on all of the powers. Can everyone read everyone’s minds at all times and they just each have some other ability too?
I wish we could have learned a lot more about the majority of Russian people in this time period. We learn most of our information from Yulia who is held captive by a fanatic, who wasn’t even a representative of the majority of the KGB, let alone most of Russia. The information we did learn was fascinating. About how they waited in lines for months and years for everything from medicine to automobiles to food. It was interesting in seeing the Cold War and the race to space from the opposite perspective.
I’m not really a fan of any of the characters. Yulia was immature, selfish, impatient and stubborn - all traits which annoy me in heroines. She was in a house full of psychics, yet she kept thinking about escaping. In her failed escape attempts she never considers that her actions may have consequences for her mother and brother. When she does finally start to use her powers, she refuses to listen to her teachers and the fellow students.
Other than Yulia, none of the other characters were that likeable either. But considering most of the characters were abducted and forced into being psychic spies for a fanatic who gives them gifts for spying on each other, they weren’t in positions to be likeable. They were just trying to survive. Also, I think the love interests in the story could have been removed and it would have been a better book. It really wasn’t needed, and I didn’t really feel any sort of attachment for Sergei or Valentine. Most of the time, I just wanted to yell at Yulia to stay away for Sergei. His backstabbing felt worse than the others’ because he was doing it for Yulia’s own good. Creepy and not someone I would consider a friend.
Other than my issues, I did mostly enjoy the novel. I liked the suspense, the action and the mystery, even though some of the surprises at the end were a little predictable.
I would recommend this book to anyone who likes spy mysteries or historical fiction, especially historical fiction set in another country like Russia. I would warn that parts of the book may be confusing and frustrating, but otherwise the book is enjoyable.
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To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.