March 13, 2014

Sekret - Lindsay Smith (+ Giveaway)

Sekret - Lindsay Smith
Sekret by Lindsay Smith
Series: Sekret #1
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan Children's
Publication Date: April 1, 2014
Source/Format: Netgalley (Thanks!) || e-galley
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects my review.]

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 was a thrilling read for me. In spite of my initial reservations, I picked up this novel anyway, unable to resist the lure of Russian history. I’m so glad I did because Sekret is phenomenal! This strong debut novel from author Lindsay Smith is a compelling tale that combines Russian history and culture with a bit of science fiction. It’s beautifully done, and I’d even go so far as to say that it’s one of the best novels I’ve read so far this 2014.

Without a doubt, the story was what I liked best about Sekret. Basically, it does follow the story indicated in the summary – a girl with psychic abilities becomes part of a Russian espionage group determined to maintain the country’s independent rule. But there were also additional twists that managed to surprise me, particularly about their nemesis in this story. I will say that I did guess a major plot point pretty early on, but that didn’t take away from how much I enjoyed the story overall.

It’s a crazy set of circumstances that surround Yulia, her comrades and her country, but Smith deftly wove Yulia’s personal conflict into the tapestry of a much more prominent conflict between countries. I appreciated the fact that we still explore Yulia’s feelings and her actions (and reactions) in depth, even while also having enough room to see that there’s something much larger at play here. The combination was pretty intoxicating, and certainly kept me turning the pages after I’d started.

I also really enjoyed the setting. While I’m not too familiar with the details of Russia at this time, the way that Smith portrays it in Sekret sounds pretty spot on. The touches of Russian culture, and the dropping of Russian terms here and there definitely helped Sekret feel authentic. I find that I’m interested in further exploring this period of history now, thanks to this novel!

My only reservation really lies with the characters, particularly Yulia. I liked Yulia well enough. Her emotions and her choices were easily understood and justifiable; her memories, especially as they unraveled, were interesting too. However, there was just a lack of that something to help me fully connect with her character. Instead of experiencing the story through her eyes, it felt like I was simply watching her go through it all (and rooting for her to be safe and on the right side). I would have liked to forge a stronger connection with her, but it also didn’t take too much away from this story.

I did enjoy reading about the secondary characters. Smith does a credible job of making sure that her characters, from main to secondary to even tertiary, are written as the complex, definitely not black and white human beings. There are good things, and bad things about each and every one (Yulia included). I really appreciated that we could see why each character acted the way they did, and look forward to further learning more about them in Skandal.

On a quick side note, I don’t feel particularly strongly about the romantic subplot in Sekret. I acknowledge its existence, and feel like I could potentially be rooting for the couple in question. But at the moment, it doesn’t matter to me as much as the actual story does (and probably won’t deter any future readers from liking this book).

Sekret was definitely a hit! I really liked the way it was written, especially with the combination of Russian history and sci-fi into one solid read. If you’re interested in espionage with a sci-fi touch, then definitely take the time to read this book. (Actually, I’d just recommend this book to readers, period. It’s that interesting, and that fun to read!)

What kind of psychic power would you like to have, based on the ones in Sekret?

This was fairly easy for me to answer! I want to be able to be a remote viewer. Remote viewers are psychics that can see what’s going on somewhere even from some distance away. This is a win-win situation for me, since I’ll be safe (ish) and can still be part of whatever is going down. (Honestly, I debated about simply being able to read people and what’s happened before like Yulia. But I feel like that would make me feel too entrenched in the past. And it would wreak havoc on all my emotions.)

Thanks to the wonderful Ksenia at Macmillan, I'm pleased to be hosting a giveaway for a finished copy of Sekret! [NOTE: This is only open to residents of the US/CA.] Enter below!


  1. This book sounds amazing! I'm a historical fiction nerd. Thanks for the review and giveaway!

  2. This book is one of my most anticipated books of the year. I'm glad you enjoyed it and the characters sound really interesting. I love characters that aren't black or white!

  3. Great review, Alexa!! Wow, this book sounds amazing! I was a Russian language major in college and love Russian history & culture, to the storyline for Sekret sounds right up my alley!!

  4. I love that you owned up to not loving the romance... I've started finding a lot of unreasonable or uncomfortable romance in the books I've been reading, and it's hard to stand up and say you just don't love the love.

  5. I keep seeing glowing reviews for this one and it's starting to build up my excitement for it! I don't know much about Russian history, so I feel like I'll be kept in the dark a bit longer :)

    If I could have a superpower, I'd probably go with the ability to read minds! So many possibilities, but no one would be the wiser ;)

  6. Ack! This is the first review I've read for Sekret, and I must say that it now has me wanting to read it. I do love books with Russian history in them. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this one!!!!

    If I could have any superpower, it would be teleportation. I don't know why, but that power has always appealed to me.

    Orchid @ The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia

  7. Probably either mind reading or teleportation! :)

  8. I`d definitely would love to have teleportation! It would give me a lot more time to do things.

  9. I feel like I should have really liked Sekret, but I just didn't. Normally historical fiction and spies are both towards the top of my list of favorite things to read about, but I just couldn't connect with the story, or, as you mentioned, with Julia. I respect with Lindsay Smith did because I think, regardless of my own personal opinion, it's an strong, well done book.

  10. Probability manipulation! Or maybe teleportation, that would be awesome.

  11. I am SO freaking excited to read this book and this review just made me MORE excited. This is a must read for me for sure.

    I think I'd want long distance teleportation as well. It would make life so much easier!!


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