Expected Publication: April 1st 2014 by Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan Children’s
Genre: Young Adult | Science Fiction
My Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Sometimes we look for something different to read. A new genre, a new author, a new setting. When I read the blurb for Sekret, I was immediately captivated by the words ‘space program,’ ‘Soviet Russia,’ and ‘psychic.’ Though I’ve spent a lot of time researching and reading about the U.S. space program and have watched a few documentaries about the Soviet counterpart, I’ve not really studied the specifics of the Cold War. Probably because I lived through it. Sekret appealed to me because it was set during a tense time in history and in a place I’ve only read about.
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.
Lindsay Smith writes very well. Yulia’s story is fast-paced and the pinch points are dramatic without being absurd. Cause and effect are used advantageously and Smith deftly closes the curtains at the end leaving a small gap that hints at a sequel. However, I never really connected with the characters. There were moments in the story when emotions were bubbling over, but as a witness I was disengaged.
I liked this book, but I’m not sure I liked it enough to read a sequel. It sheds light on the conditions of Soviet Russia in the 60s which I found interesting. But the science fiction elements of multiple psychic abilities overshadow the realities. The space program is merely a side note in the overall story, as is politics. They are motivators that could have been exploited to a greater degree.
It’s a good book, but didn’t meet my expectations.