Saturday, 28 June 2014

Review: Sekret by Lindsay Smith

Author: Lindsay Smith
Pages: 341
Publisher: Roaring Book Press/Macmillian Children's
Release Date: April 1st, 2014
Received from: NetGalley 
Status: Sekret #1

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

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.


Sekret is a dazzling, mind playing, and thrilling read about Soviet Russia, and the people behind the scenes who do their best to keep the iron curtain from falling!

The story is about Yulia, a girl who is on the run with her mother and brother. They live a hard, but fairly ordinary life together, until Yulia's family is taken away, and she is sent away to a crumbling Imperial prison run by the KGB. There, she meets others like her with special abilities, but she quickly realizes the facade they put on is simply for show- they are all tools in the war against America. She has to learn how to control her powers, otherwise she won't be safe from the threats both inside and outside the walls of her prison.

This book really did surprise me in many ways. I got this e-ARC before it's release date, however, I didn't get really far with reading it (I probably got to 27-30% before stopping?), because it was really confusing at times. However, after finally forcing myself to sit down and read it, I learned that this book wasn't meant to be simple.

For me, the plot story is a little all over the place, and it took me awhile to understand what was going on because of Smith's writing style. It got easier as I kept going though. Yulia is a little scattered with her thoughts from time to time. There are times when I don't know if she's seeing things in the past, seeing them through the eyes of others, having memories, having dreams etc. I didn't really like it initially, especially when she didn't establish her position on what side she wanted to play on, but I let it go as the novel progressed.

This story is hard to explain and to follow, because Yulia herself doesn't know who to trust 98% of the time, and this is due to the fact others can go inside her head if she pleases, and that she doesn't entirely remember what happened before her father left her family.

It's confusing and very intense at times, but it's understandable in this story. This story is supposed to play with your mind because in 1963-64 USSR, everything was confusing and hard and scary and intense. The conflict that you get when reading the story and understanding the characters reflects the conflict of that time period.

All the characters were amazing, and Larissa and Valentin were two of my favourite; I had a huge crush on Valentin, and couldn't believe I was blinded by Sergei in the beginning.

Even though there were times I didn't know how to feel about her, I have to admit, Yulia is pretty badass for sticking up to her superiors and being her own person. She has a sense of protectiveness that is really nice, and even when she's at her weakest moments, she picks herself back up.

The story does end with a lot of lose ends, which I hope will all be answered in Skandal (I don't know if this is a trilogy or not). I really want to know what happened to the characters in the end, and I especially want to know what caused the division in Yulia's family. I'll be honest with you, that was my main concern throughout the novel that I hope would've been answered, but was really disappointed when it wasn't.

This book was an amazing, fast-paced, and thrilling read, and I recommend it for all historical fiction junkies like myself, and to anyone that likes a good spy story! (Ally Carter fans, I'm looking at you!).

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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