I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Sekret by Lindsay Smith
Series: Sekret #1
Published by Roaring Brook Press on April 1st 2014
Genres: Historical, Young Adult
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An empty mind is a safe mind.
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.
Sekret is kind of tricky to review. It wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t something I’m all that excited about. Looking back I’d have to say overall reaction is something in the ‘meh, that was alright’ family of feelings.
The premise is pretty damn interesting. Yulia is a teenage psychic on the run from the KGB in Cold War-era Russia. So far, so good, right? Yulia’s fairly snappy and stubborn, she’s not the best of heroines, but is definitely far from the worst. The first few chapters set up how she comes to stay in a top secret government psychic training camp and everything seemed to be clicking neatly into place for a decent story when it all just…stalled.
There are some high points here, the setting aspects of the book were top notch and the writing was solid. It’s just that I’m a character reader and it felt like everything was happening to some vaguely interesting strangers who were meandering aimlessly around an interesting historical period.
Things are still technically happening, Yulia goes out on missions and slowly starts uncovering mysterious clues about her family’s past, but the focus shifts more to character issues and when it comes to this cast I never ended up actually caring. Everyone came off as a stock caricature and doesn’t grow beyond that.
You have the usual morally ambiguous house mother type (good? bad? don’t care), a set of die-hard, over-achieving believer twins, a Riley Finn-type fake-out love interest (sorry, spoiler, the love triangle set up fizzles early on THANK GOD), a supportive could-be friend and of course, a looming, big bad with a murky evil plot. They all felt so familiar, like this combination of character types have been forced through this plot mold before and there was nothing about any of them that really stands out.
Continuing the parade of done-before is Valentin, the requisite brooding, tortured hero love interest. Valentin’s got a dangerous power and has decided the best way to cope with it is to sit in a darkened basement and be sad about how evil he could be. I mean, on the one hand that’s good, with great power comes great responsibility, etc but lighten up buddy. Get out of your basement, get a puppy, stop being such a Derek (i.e. tragic moper) about it and move on with your life.
The romance, which takes up a small but still fairly significant part of the book is utterly forgettable. There are some sweet moments and I didn’t hate the ship or anything, but overall? Don’t care, not feeling it.
I will give props to the ending. Not the culminating events (abrupt and what? oh, are we caring now?) but Sekret does leave several plot threads waving in the breeze and they could mean interesting things will start happening in the next installment in the trilogy (I’m assuming it’s a trilogy because it seems like everything is these days, but feel free to correct me if I’m wrong). Like I said, the writing was good and dammit, I’m not ready to give up on Russia books yet, so I’m cautiously hopeful for book two.
And there were not.