Miss Riki’s Review:
Surviving in Communist Russia is no easy feat, and Yulia knows she must control her thoughts and emotions. She knows she has skills beyond explanation as she manipulates black market traders in her struggle for survival, but finds they are worth much more when she is recruited by Russia’s powerful spy agency, the KGB. The KGB wants Yulia and other teens like her with mind-reading capabilities for their psychic espionage program. They will use any means necessary to make these young psychics cooperate with their goals of beating American capitalists, but Yulia is a fighter. She won’t allow anyone to control her as she fights becoming the next victim of a powerful American spy who can scrub her brain raw.
I really wanted to enjoy this novel, and it did start of very strong for me, but unfortunately it suffered from a sagging middle and a lackluster ending that fell flat for me.
The premise is intriguing, with young people with psychic abilities being recruited for the KGB. I really enjoyed the way each teen had a special set of abilities that varied wildly, although still falling under the term psychic. I loved the beginning of this book, where we begin to see each teen’s ability in action and they are training to go on actual missions, where they will work together to accomplish a goal. Unfortunately, once the missions actually began, the book lagged a lot in pace and I lost interest. The missions lacked a nice action sequence and seemed a bit haphazard in the telling.
After a strong beginning, the plot becomes quite convoluted and messy. It became increasingly more difficult to follow the rules of this world the author has created, and the events leading up to Yulia’s moment of great discovery were so all over the place that the big reveal felt anticlimactic.
There is a romance plot in the book that really fell flat for me. I didn’t feel any chemistry between the characters and had a difficult time caring whether or not they ended up together or not. The romance element felt like a rushed add-on to the main plot and wasn’t well developed.
I will say that the setting of this book is extremely well done, with vivid description of 1960’s Russia. There are some slight historical inaccuracies with the songs presented in the book, but it is a work of fiction, so I’m willing to suspend disbelief for the sake of the story.
I definitely won’t be reading the next book, but I enjoyed the author’s writing enough that I might consider picking up another book she writes that is not part of this series.