Saturday, May 17, 2014


In 1960's Russia, Yulia Chernina is struggling to support her family. Her parents used to be prestigious scientists, but now struggle to make ends meet as outcasts. Yulia does what she can and haggles on the black market for much needed supplies, using her uncanny instincts to read people to her benefit. While out in the market one day, her family is captured by the KGB and she is coerced into working for them or they will harm her family. So Yulia is forced into a dilapidated warehouse with psychics around her age to discover how to harness and use her powers to benefit Russia. Along with them is an adult psychic who can manipulate memories and control thoughts. Yulia bides her time and works to hone her skills and help them until she can escape.

Sekret is the first novel I've ever read about this time period in Russia. Lindsay Smith captures the era and setting beautifully with descriptions of the vast difference between the rich and poor, vivid descriptions of a conflicted state (recovering from Stalin's terror, frustration at Khrushchev's passive rule, and the youthful craving for Western culture), a few Russian words, and consistent Russian cultural references throughout the text. It was also fascinating to see that part of history through different eyes. Their view of of Jackie O and President Kennedy as well their reaction to the President's assassination is vastly different than that of Americans. I particularly enjoyed the musical aspects of the novel. To block out other psychics, each person would have a song or piece running through their head to use as a shield. It gave each character an added layer because musical choice says a lot about a person. The various psychics and their powers are varied and included some I hadn't seen before. They could also work together to amplify their powers in ways they couldn't alone.

It took me a while to really get into Sekret. Even though it's from Yulia's perspective, I didn't get a good sense of who she was until around the middle of the novel. The romance was sweet, but nothing special. The only real positive was that it didn't distract much from the main plot. I also think I'm kind of burnt out on unnecessary teen romances stuck in a novel that doesn't really need one. I don't really know why romance HAS to be in every YA novel, but it's kind of annoying. Except for the change in setting and time, it read very much like every other dystopian YA novel. I wish it were a little more interesting with so much real history to draw from.

Sekret has some wonderful elements, but reads as too typical in an oversaturated genre. The ending is left open for a sequel and I'm frankly not sure if I want to read it.

My rating: 3/5 fishmuffins

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