In 1964, a psychic Russian teen works with the CIA to prevent war with the Soviet Union.
Yulia Andreevna Chernina has defected to the United States to escape the KGB's psychic espionage program. Her old handlers groomed her ability to read thoughts and memories in order to crush dissidents and provoke a war between the USSR and the USA. In the freedom and creativity of America, she joins with other psychics to defeat the plans of the KGB psychic team—a team that is led in part by Yulia's mother. Yulia develops her psychic skills at the CIA's behest, but she doesn't think she can defeat the tyrannical Russians' powerful thought scrubbers. A pervading dread, disorientation and paranoia thoroughly soak her believable voice. The magnitude of her reasonable fears is most apparent from outside; when Yulia psychically thrusts her emotions into other characters, the external glimpse of her deep anxiety is troubling even to her. Smith's Washington, D.C., is dense with 1960s flavor. Though some of the well-researched historical events and people are sprinkled in without context or explanation, the colorfully described clothing, music and even racial tensions bring the era to light. As Yulia fights to save her family and prevent a war in a world filled with psychic powers and political maneuvering, she has to reach beyond passivity if she's to succeed.
Well-paced action and mystery for an appealing heroine, complete with Cold War attitudes. (Science fiction. 12-15)