From School Library Journal
Grade 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
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*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. Frances BradburnCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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