A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Readers not familiar with the Soviet Union during the 1960s will learn more about Russian history after reading Sekret. The novel gives readers a different perspective of what it was like to live in Communist Russia under Nikita Kruschev -- a teens' eye view. The novel also digs deep into the Cold War and the KGB, the Soviet espionage and security agency at the time. Apart from the KGB, Sekret's main focus is the "space race," in which the Soviet Union and the United States competed to see who would be the first to fly into outer space and land on the moon. The novel also features interesting Russian locales, including Moscow, as well as Russian language and culture.
Strong messages about earning to trust others and your instincts, the importance of friendship and family, believing in yourself, love for family and friends, combatting bullies, and helping those need.
Positive Role Models
Yulia is a smart and likable heroine. She loves her family and will do anything to protect them. Yulia doesn't want to be a pawn in the KGB's game of trying to obtain secrets from the U.S. space program and the CIA. She wants to be a normal teen living with her family.Yulia's main goal in the novel is protecting her family, especially her younger brother. She also dreams of studying science at a university. There are other notable characters in the novel who help and hinder Yulia's mission to escape from the KGB's clutches, even as Yulia becomes more determined. The teens' powers add to the dimension of the characters and help Yulia to figure out the mystery behind her family's capture.
Violence & Scariness
Hand-to-hand combat, and pushing, shoving.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Mild flirting and kissing.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Sekert is a historical fantasy novel about a young Russian teen during the 1960s Soviet Union era, who's trained by the KGB to use her psychic powers to help them uncover secrets of the U.S. space program. There's some pushing, shoving, and hand-to-hand combat, and the sexual content is limited to mild flirting and couple of kisses. There's no strong language.
Is It Any Good?
SEKRET is a fresh take on historical fiction. Readers will connect instantly with Yulia and root for her to escape the clutches of the KGB and find her beloved family. The novel is inspired by historical facts and filled with real-life locales and people, but it also has a dystopian feel. The blend of reality and fantasy will appeal to a variety of readers. Sekret has a literary quality to it and is filled with beautiful and haunting images. It's clear from the first page that Smith has done her research, has terrific knowledge of U.S. and Russian history, and is a foreign affairs writer. Her descriptions are extremely powerful and visual. But sometimes the novel feels weighed down by too much description.
Sekret is not a fast-paced read, but it holds a lot of secrets and surprises that will keep readers turning the pages. It also has many tense moments and fascinating characters, as well as a cliffhanger ending that will leave readers looking forward to the next installment in the series.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.