March 13, 2014

Latest Read: Sekret by Lindsay Smith

Here are the basics ...
Sekret (Sekret #1) by Lindsay Smith
Publication date: Apr. 1, 2014
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Category: Young Adult - Science Fiction/Mystery
Source: Received ARC from publisher (Thanks!)

Summary: Yulia's father always taught her to hide her thoughts and control her emotions to survive the harsh realities of Soviet Russia. But 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. Yulia quickly realizes she can trust no one--not her KGB superiors or the other operatives vying for her attention--and must rely on her own wits and skills to survive in this world where no SEKRET can stay hidden for long. (Adapted goodreads.com)
My thoughts…
The good: What do you get when you mix historical fiction, intrigue, Russians, romance and psychics into one book? Oh you know, the awesomeness that is Sekret and the beginning of a great series. It's set in Soviet Russia during the 1960s and Yulia and her family are hiding from the government. They were once elite Party members - her parents were scientists - but now Yulia, her mother and brother live their days trying to make sparse food rations last while her father has disappeared, his whereabouts unknown. One day, Yulia is trying to sell off their belongings in the black market (something she is very good at!) and returns home only to find herself and her family cornered and captured by the KGB. It turns out they know about her secret skill - she can see a person's memories simply by touching them. Turns out she's a psychic, and not the only one, and forced to work as a spy with other psychic teenagers on a mission to sabotage the U.S. space program. And if she refuses to recuperate, they'll hurt her family or worse.

What might appear to be just a story about a group of psychic teenagers learning about their powers is merely one part of an elaborate and impressively detailed plot. There's a bigger picture here, which we learn more about as the story progresses and almost every character is involved in a twist I didn't see coming. I especially loved the main character Yulia. Not just because of her fierce and powerful abilities but because she never loses sight of who she is. Whether she was living the life of a well-to-do daughter or a street urchin or an imprisoned psychic spy. She could play the games necessary but she deep down, she remained true to herself and to the love for her family.

But it was also interesting to see the ways in which the KGB did help her with her powers, as well as introduce her to other kids like herself. The notion of different kinds of psychics was cleverly integrated and while they all intrigued me on some level, it was Valentin and Larissa - the two people Yulia befriended - that I enjoyed the most. Knowing who to trust is a key element here and honestly, everyone kept me guessing and no one is 100% innocent. There is eventually some romance in the book but it never overwhelmed the importance of Yulia wanting to escape the KGB and save her family (not to mention learn what her parents have been hiding from her about her origins).

(Super minor) reservations: There is a lot of information and characters to keep track of. It's not really a reservation but just something to be aware of while reading. There were a couple times when I had to go back and make sure I had connected the dots correctly. (I was also reading late at night, so that probably didn't help!)

Do I recommend?: I do! Based on the first book alone, I think this is going to be an exciting and unique series! It's not often, in my experience, to find paranormal historical YA set in Russia. I can't wait to see what happens next.

Happy reading!
Collaborative feature with Alexa! 

Which psychic power would you want?
I would want Yulia’s psychic abilities. I like the idea of being able to see a person’s memories (basically their thoughts and emotions) merely by touching them. You’d always know the truth! As long as the person was in close proximity, of course. Plus as Yulia learns more and more about her powers, she finds out there’s even more she can do with it. Which I can’t tell you because it was be spoilery. But it’s pretty cool!

2 comments:

  1. Glad to know you loved Sekret! I loved it too! Check out my review on Sekret: http://www.girlinthewoodsreviews.blogspot.com/2014/03/arc-review-sekret-by-lindsay-smith.html?m=1

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  2. You know, I have to admit that with your explanation, Yulia's powers would be pretty interesting to have. At least you'd know the truth about everyone in your proximity! I'm still gonna stand by my answer though, because remote viewing seems pretty safe to me ;) I'm seriously glad we read this together and that we wound up loving it!

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