Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Sekret by Lindsay Smith

It's 1963 in the USSR and Yulia and her family are on the run. Her mother and father were both scientists and loyal party members in the past but something changed. Now Yulia, her mother, and her younger brother are holed up with her aunt and cousin, living each day on the bare minimum and trying to stay out of the crosshairs of the State. 

Then Yulia is captured by the KGB and recruited into service. She has a special talent, one that allows her to see things through just one touch. It's this talent that a secret arm of the government hopes to use to their advantage. And Yulia isn't the only one. When the KGB learns that the CIA has a comparable program and is set on using their own team against Russia, Yulia and the others are thrown into a game with deadly consequences. 

Yes! A historical-teen-Russian-psychic-spy-thriller! Oh, Sekret not only sounded amazing but it turned out to be exactly what I'd hoped it would be.

Lindsay Smith deftly incorporates real historical tidbits in her tale: the Kennedy assassination, the Space Race (though Veter 1 is fictional), Stalin, Lenin, Kruschev... I wasn't around for these things and yet it's a piece of history that has always fascinated me. (And obviously many others as well considering we now have a show devoted to Russian spies in the 80s.) I would imagine that Sekret will prompt more than one reader to look into a lot of the things listed in the book out of newborn curiosity.

Smith does include an afterword that outlines some of the references she used, a lot of the historical fact that's included, and even some notes on both Russian and American attempts at psychic spying. While that particular piece of Sekret is fiction, there's definitely an air of believability supported by the fact that - at least at one time - there were legitimate attempts to not only recruit psychics to service but to use them against each other. What, what, what?! Not to mention it's just a super cool element in the story.

The characters and their relationships are developed quite nicely. I did find it difficult at times to really understand the details on the psychic abilities. It was a minor issue to be sure, but visualizing some of the interactions between the Scrubbers and Yulia in particular was somewhat muddled for me. It could be intentional considering. I'll leave that to you to decide.

But yes, Sekret is one I definitely recommend to both teens and non teens. It also left me wanting more! I never really got into The Americans but I may have to try again. Or maybe I'll reread Nelson Demille's The Charm School instead - to tide me over before the sequel to Sekret comes out next year.

Rating: 4.5/5

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