X-Men in the USSR: Sekret by Lindsay Smith

An empty mind is a safe mind.

Yulia knows she must hide her thoughts and control her emotions to survive in Communist Russia. But if she sometimes manipulates the black market traders by reading their thoughts when she touches their skin, so what? Anything to help her survive.

Russia’s powerful spy agency, the KGB, is recruiting young people with mind-reading capabilities for their psychic espionage program. Their mission: protect the Soviet space program from American CIA spies. Why shouldn’t the KGB use any means necessary to make the young psychic cooperate? Anything to beat the American capitalist scum to the moon.

Yulia is a survivor. She won’t be controlled by the KGB, who want to harness her abilities for the State with no regard for her own hopes and dreams. She won’t let handsome Sergei plan her life as a member of elite Soviet society, or allow brooding Valentin to consume her with his dangerous mind and even more dangerous ideas. And she certainly won’t become the next victim of the powerful American spy who can scrub a brain raw—and seems to be targeting Yulia.

Source: GoodReads

I think a lot of YA authors are obsessed with X-Men.  May it be the comic book, the awesome 90’s cartoon, or the movie series, X-Men themed plots have sort of saturated the YA market first in dystopias, then in fantasies, and now it appears in historical fiction as in the case of Sekret.

Note, I DNF’d Sekret mainly because it had nothing new to add to the YA meets X-Men formula.  Don’t believe me.  Tell me if this seems familiar (this another time I wanted to make a top ten list but had to stop at like eight because I found myself repeating myself) :

  1. A Main Character Who Has Powers She Must Hide: Usually in X-Men YA books they go for the Rouge type.  Meaning, that the character usually  has some sort of power to impediment the relationship-with the Rouge character herself, she couldn’t touch anyone  without drawing off power and a kiss could kill them-if I recall correctly.  Luckily, Yulia isn’t a Rouge wannabe so props for the book on that but she still has a devastating power of being a psychic like Jean Grey so…I think a check mark can be put in this category.
  2. A boarding school or training school for the gifted: Check.  There’s just no bald guy in a wheelchair here to train them.  Just Russian spies with guns.
  3. Other kids with psychic powers.  Check, check, check.  Sort of goes with the school of the gifted trope.  But often these kids because the lead’s team mates and/or love interests.
  4. Powers are viewed as strange in the universe.  Yep, happens here main character is on the run becuase of them.  Only robots don’t capture her like they did with Jubilee in the cartoon series.  Though, I don’t give the robots much credit for catching Jubilee in the cartoon version since she was very easy to spot-I mean, she wears dishwashing gloves as every day wear.
  5. There are evil people with power.  Some work for the government.  The government wants to make sure they have all the people who have powers in check.
  6. People who have powers are in danger of getting killed/maimed/taken by the government.
  7. Did I mention super powers.
  8. Psychic powers are used to find other psychics.  Though to be fair, I don’t think this facility has a Cerebro but still.

Yeah, see an X-Men wannabe.  That’s not exactly a bad thing, BUT (yeah, that but is in all caps for a particular reason) when you add nothing else to the story it gets to be grating and fast.  I mean, I really felt like I was going through the motions with this one.  So much that I just DNF’d it there wasn’t anything interesting that was holding my attention.  Really, despite one brief mention of the Cuba Mission Crisis this book could’ve taken place anywhere.

Which is why I DNF’d it.

Le sigh.

Anyway, if you really like the X-Men formula you might want to read this one.  It didn’t hold my interest, but I could see some people liking it which is why on GoodReads I gave it a two star DNF rating rather than a one star DNF rating.

Anyway, going to watch some reruns of the X-Men cartoon right now.  Righting this has gotten that theme song stuck in my head again.


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