Russians and psychics and romance and paranoia are a few buzzwords that GRAB ME BY THE BRAIN every single time. Lindsay Smith’s debut Sekret seems like a book that is tailor made for my reading tastes. Although I read the book using my computer screen because it was one of those Adobe Digital Library editions (blahhhhhhhhhhhh) and not one that magically appears on my Kindle, I found it hard to limit my chapters read each day — I wanted to just keep going. AND THEN YOU GUYS AT THE END when I was like what happens next?! I was rewarded with a sequel — by this I mean, I went to goodreads and saw that there was a sequel and that all was right in the world. I kind of love it when a book makes me ask ‘what happens next’ after I finish it because that means I actually want a sequel instead of being all argh this author is artificially stretch a thin story for the benjamins. Yes, that’s right, I really liked reading Sekret.
Sekret opens with Yulia Chernina bartering at the market place with a Gypsy woman. She is trying to get the best deal possible, so she uses these magical powers that she has — basically the skill to read a person’s past by touching them or the past history of a place by touching a relic. She’s also able to read thoughts. The deal gets busted up by a set of strange young twins. Yulia goes home to find that her mother and brother are missing — kidnapped by the KGB. Upon arrival, Yulia is offered a position with a special program in the KGB that is training young psychics in exchange for her mother and brother’s safety. FYI, her brother is autistic, but it’s the 1960s so they don’t have a word for it yet. Yulia accepts and joins the program, but finds herself repulsed by what they do and tries to escape at every turn. Also, she is consistently betrayed again and again, sometimes on purpose, sometimes not so much. In all, Sekret is a book with an undercurrent of paranoia and fear that kind of pulsates, gross as that sounds, this book legitimately gives me those anxiety type of emotions.
Yulia kind of drove me nuts as a character. I mean, she was consistently putting herself in danger because she wanted to be free and escape so bad. I get that, I truly do BUT when you are at the mercy of the KGB and you mother and brother are prisoners, you basically need to work to dismantle the machine from within and also not be an idiot. Like, hello escape from other psychics won’t be easy. However, I cannot fault Yulia’s determination. The girl is tenacious you guys and I think we could do with books about people who do not give up at the first sign of trouble, even if it does give me all kinds of heart palpitations.
There is a slow build romance in Sekret. You see, at first Yulia is into this one guy, but he’s not really the best person for her, seeing as how he is totally sold on the KGB program and happy enough to receive table scraps. THE OTHER GUY THOUGH! He has really strong psychic powers and Yulia doesn’t trust him and there’s this whole be careful around him because his powers can be bad news bears. BUT OMG YOU GUYS, the relationship and the development and the use of Beatles lyrics just incoherent swooning over here. That’s all I will say on the matter.
Frankly, I liked the interplay of the Russian secret police and psychic powers — it’s like taking things that are scary and combining them for something even more scary. Plus you have that whole paranoia thing and omg, this time in history where people just tattled on each other out of fear and well, Lindsay Smith makes perfect use of that. AND at the same time it’s the 1960s, so there’s space travel and the Beatles and the world is changing and ughhhh, I just really liked what Smith did with this book. The secondary characters are awesome too, you guys. Like, Rostov, the general is a terrifying villain, you’ll be like oh snap what a douche when you read. And well, Valentin is <3 and Sergei is š and Misha and Masha are awful humans. It’s kind of totally awesome and I hope I’ve convinced you that if you have similar taste to me, you need Sekret by Lindsay Smith in your life.
Disclosure: Review Copy Provided By Publisher Via Netgalley