Reviews for Kiki Strike : Inside the Shadow City
Booklist Reviews 2006 July #1
/*Starred Review*/ Gr. 5-8. White-haired, leprechaun-size Kiki Strike is a new student at Atalanta School in New York City when she meets 12-year-old Ananka Fishbein, the narrator of Miller's debut novel. Together they begin a detailed exploration of the Shadow City, the subterranean rooms and streets under New York's subway system, and Kiki recruits a team of other precocious 12-year-olds, whose skills include hacking, chemistry, lock picking, forging, making handmade explosives, and mechanical engineering, to join them. Ananka, the team's urban archaeologist, will supply her family's extensive library and learn everything about rats, the current Shadow City inhabitants. As the girls try to obtain layered maps of New York City's infrastructure, they fear that terrorists with the same goals are putting the city in terrible danger. The peripheral plotline about a nefarious, exiled princess of Pokrovia, who is a fellow Atalanta School student, adds intrigue. First-time author Miller has created a fascinating, convoluted mystery-adventure, which features early-adolescent girls with talents and abilities far beyond their years. The novel will attract both male and female readers, as Harry Potter did, especially since many chapters conclude with perspectives on such universally appealing topics as "How to Be a Master of Disguise" and "How to Foil a Kidnapping." While some discerning readers may complain that the conclusion is too quick and tidy, readers will welcome the hints of sequels, all hopefully narrated by Ananka, the most intriguing and carefully developed of Miller's characters. ((Reviewed July 2006)) Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2006 Fall
Mysterious white-haired adolescent Kiki Strike recruits a gang of criminally talented (but conveniently pure-hearted) girls to explore a secret city hidden beneath the streets of New York. Narrator Ananka's chapter-ending how-to lists (covering everything from first aid to disguises to stalking) are brightly witty, but the adventure itself is painfully slow, the characters and dialogue often lifeless. Copyright 2006 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2006 May #2
An arch story of deposed princesses, Girl Scouts gone wild and the world beneath New York City. Smart, neglected Ananka pays attention, leading her to a world where preteen girls can do anything-as long as they have plenty of Village cafes for coffee and planning. Recruited by the mysterious Kiki Strike, Ananka and the Irregulars (experts in disguise, forgery, invention and chemistry culled from the Scouts) find themselves mapping the Shadow City, a remnant of old New York. Along the way, they take on Chinese gangsters and murderous royalty. Narrated eight years after the adventure begins, this is a rallying cry for the "curious" and an effective anthem of geek-girl power. Ananka peppers her narration with useful tips (from effective tailing techniques to spotting liars) reminiscent of the Worst Case Survival series. Two flaws: An imaginary branch of the New York Public Library, and Kiki turns out to be less bent on heroics and more on personal revenge. All in all, an absurdly satisfying romp for disaffected smart girl, with hints of more to come. (Fiction. YA) Copyright Kirkus 2006 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
Library Media Connection - October 2006
One morning Ananka looks out of her New York City apartment window and sees an enormous sinkhole in the park across the street. After seeing a girl run from it, Ananka climbs down into the hole to investigate. This is the story of her adventures in Shadow City, an underground city that was built more than 100 years ago beneath Manhattan to provide refuge for criminals. Now these tunnels and rooms lead to secret openings in the buildings of Manhattan. In the course of her investigations, Ananka works with a group of five middle school-aged girls who call themselves the Irregulars, led by Kiki. Luz is a technological wizard, DeeDee is a chemist, Betty is a master at creating disguises, and Oona is a hacker and forger. As for Kiki, the reader is not sure until the end of the book whether she is a hero or a villain. The descriptions of places like cemeteries and islands around New York City stayed with me after finishing the book. The book contains a list, titled "How to Experience the Real New York," which describes eight places in Manhattan. This would be an excellent book to include when integrating language arts with other subject areas. Recommended. Janet Luch, Adjunct Professor, SUNY New Paltz, New York & Touro College; Faculty Member, University of Phoenix © 2006 Linworth Publishing, Inc.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2006 June #2
Narrator Ananka Fishbein recounts life as sidekick to Kiki Strike, girl detective, in this deliciously entertaining debut novel. The girls meet at age 12 in a ritzy private school, when both independently discover the Shadow City--a 19th-century labyrinth of tunnels 50 feet below Manhattan's Chinatown, built to hide smuggled goods. At school, disaffected Ananka's main goal is to befriend the mysterious Kiki, whom she follows stealthily. For reasons not made clear until late in the story, Kiki recruits Ananka and four girls with talents in chemistry, forgery, disguise and mechanics for the Irregulars, a troupe to comb the underground finding gold, cash, furs, cadavers and huge, live rats. New York sophistication alone cannot account for these girls' preternatural moxie (one runs her own nail salon). Parents are conveniently absent, and there are holes in the plot as wide as the tunnels in the Shadow City. But Miller's humor and outrageous vision will carry readers over the potholes. The "tips" that end each chapter slow the pace, but will certainly amuse readers (e.g., "In particularly dangerous situations, you may want to choose fabrics, such as wool or silk, that won't easily catch on fire or melt under extreme heat"). Better still, the author's love for New York's nooks and crannies shines from every page, making this a rare adventure story that could also launch a walking tour. Ages 10-14. (June) [Page 53]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2006 June
Gr 5-8 -Ananka Fishbein, a seventh grader at an expensive New York City school, likens her life to "flavorless mush." But when she wakes up one Saturday morning and finds that the small park across the street has become a sinkhole, her decision to explore it transforms her existence. She meets the mysterious Kiki Strike, and subsequently the group of girls (each with a particular talent) who call themselves the Irregulars, and they embark on an adventure that involves exploring the Shadow City, a series of tunnels under Manhattan. The identity of Kiki, along with the motives of the mysterious individuals the Irregulars suspect are planning to attack the city, are the mysteries at the heart of the story. Miller pulls readers in immediately and takes them on a series of twists and turns, culminating in a thrilling climax complete with international politics and intrigue. If a 12-year-old can be a hard-boiled detective, Ananka Fishbein is one. Her narration is fresh and funny, and the author's unadorned, economical, yet descriptive style carries her character through with verve. There are deft portrayals, with personalities artfully revealed through dialogue. The chapter endings are punctuated with selections from Ananka's guidebook on "essential skills." Often placed so as to advance the story, they include "How to take advantage of being a girl." Kiki Strike celebrates the courage and daring of seemingly ordinary girls, and it will thrill those who long for adventure and excitement while they impatiently await the next installment.-Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City [Page 162]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
VOYA Reviews 2006 July
Anaka Fishbean is a student at the prestigious Atalanta School for Girls in New York City. There she meets the mysterious Kiki Strike, who recruits Anaka and four other girls to join her secret group called the Irregulars. Their mission is to explore the Shadow City, hidden beneath the underground layers of New York. At first, the girls assume that Kiki's motive is to find secret treasures, but eventually they learn that Kiki is not all that she seems, a realization that leads to adventure, danger, and espionage, and the true identity of the fugitive, rightful heir to the throne of Pokrovia This unique mystery is filled with interesting characters and witty writing. Through the first person from Anaka's perspective, important secrets are unraveled bit by bit as Anaka discovers them. At the end of most chapters, she also shares enlightening advice such as how to reveal a liar, how to prepare an effective disguise, and how to explore other hidden areas of the city, which is a very different and effective approach. The book is long and quite detailed, and the myriad characters, although clearly drawn, at times make the reader stop and think twice, which is distracting. It also seems at first that Kiki is a ghost or other supernatural being, not a real girl. Despite these shortcomings, the book is a fun and satisfying read, and teens who enjoy it will look forward to a sequel.-Diane Tuccillo 3Q 3P M J Copyright 2006 Voya Reviews.