Note: I received an e-ARC from Net Galley in exchange for a fair review
Teens with abilities in boarding school. It’s a fairly popular sub-genre for Young Adult lit (Harry Potter, Hex Hall, Vampire Academy, etc.) and it makes sense: it’s automatically exotic because most of us never go to a true boarding school. And by setting them in a boarding school, you can set the story outside the world that we all know. And because it’s outside the world we know, it’s an easy way to get in your witches, your fae, your vampires and so forth. And ultimately, that makes them fun.
Sekret is unique because although there are powers (the children her are all psychic), this book is firmly set in reality: the biggest threat is the threat of within: the KGB. They are the ones that have taken in our heroine and are training her to use her powers and teach her the art of spycraft and they are the ones that will be the first to hurt her if she doesn’t do as they say.
She is more or less alone in this school. There is Sergei; a boy who has more or less decided that he likes the gilded cage that being an obedient Party member creates for him. Larissa is much like Yulina – she has family to look out for, while twins Maria and Mikhail buy the party line hook line and sinker and are absolutely loyal to the state. Every time she tries to let her guard down, something happens to make it throw it back up. Lindsay does a fantastic job of building up a sense of paranoia and dread.
You also get a great sense for what it might be like to live in early 1960s Russia. The punishment if you fail the party, but also how that buys the loyalty of the people: a television set for spying on a classmate; help studying for the entrance exam to the top university in the USSR; a place on a hockey team. It’s just something we can’t comprehend and I always like books that can immerse me in this manner.
If you’re looking for something unique, give the one a shot. I think you’ll be glad you did.
Verdict: Buy It.