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Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City Paperback – May 29, 2007

4.7 out of 5 stars 59 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Kiki Strike Series

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Editorial Reviews

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
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.

From Booklist

*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 Bradburn
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Series: Kiki Strike
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens; Reprint edition (May 29, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1599900920
  • ISBN-13: 978-1599900926
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.1 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,753,190 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Pretend you live in Manhattan, across the street from a little park. Now pretend you wake up one night and the park has sunken into the ground and left a big hole. Wait, it gets weirder! Pretend you see a mud-covered creature climb up out of the hole using a rope, and it waves at you. What would you do? If you're twelve-year-old Ananka Fishbein, you sneak out of the house and climb down the hole. Once down the hole, you might find a secret room. (I say "might" because I'm not sure which park you're imagining, but for the sake of argument let's assume you live across from the same park.) In that room you would find a trap door that leads to what appears to be a never ending hallway of closed doors. This, my friends, is the Shadow City.

The Shadow City is entirely underground. No one knows how far it runs, how many rooms there are, or even where it all leads. Most people don't even know it exists, except for Ananka, and the mud-covered thing that waves like British royalty. Ananka has about a million questions about the Shadow City, the mud creature, and the new girl in school that no one has ever seen before, the one and only Kiki Strike.

Who is Kiki Strike? She's not about to tell. But she has put together an amazing assortment of girls. The Irregulars are misfits, borderline delinquent, unappreciated, Girl Scout rejects, and they've never met until Kiki came along. Ananka is curious and courageous, and has access to a vast peculiar library that her parents call home. Luz Lopez is a mechanical genius, she can design pretty much anything and make it work. DeeDee Morlock is a chemistry whiz, explosives and poisons are her specialties. Betty Bunt is a master of disguise who hasn't been seen, as herself, in four years. Oona Wong is the best hacker and forger in Manhattan.
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Format: Hardcover
I think this book is wonderful. The appeal of the story and the characters goes far beyond the age level of the target audience. The author creates very interesting complex characters and puts them into a wonderful world of reality mixed with crime and fantasy. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the Harry Potter series but doesn't like the fact that the characters deal in magic. Kiki, Ananka and the other "Irregulars" deal with science and technology while fighting foes and "mean girls." This is a wonderful story I am sure everyone can enjoy. I hope this is just the beginning of the adventures the girls will share with us.
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Format: Paperback
Imagine you live in a big city, across the street from a little park. Picture that one night when you wake up, there is a giant hole in the center of the park. You gaze further, and can't help but notice a muddy creature trudging out of the sunken ground. But wait, there's more! If you are Ananka Fishbein, curiosity will probably get the better of you, and you will find yourself climbing down the hole into an underground passage, with closed doors lining the hallways. This, reader, is the Shadow City. Then appears a mysterious girl called Kiki Strike, who materializes into Ananka's classroom. Our main character is determined to find out more about her new classmate. Kiki, on the other hand, drags her pursuer into the shadow city, along with some Girl Scout rejects. Their unusual talents - mechanical genius, chemistry whiz, best computer hacker in Manhattan, and master of disguise - help Kiki carry out her plan to control the deserted underground city. No one knows what she plans to do, but when Kiki disappears, Ananka grows suspicious when in that time, many robberies are committed through forgotten underground passages. The Irregulars know that they are the only living humans that have knowledge of the Shadow City.

As you become totally absorbed in the book, Kirsten Miller's fantastic description puts you into the story itself. While reading, every painful, scared emotion or sorrowful feeling she describes is your own emotion too. The beginning is a bit confusing, but give the book a chance and you will learn to love it as I do. Late at night, I would find myself with a flashlight, sneaking in a chapter past midnight. As Kirsten's fiction novel wraps you up in adventure, there is also useful information at the end of each chapter.
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Format: Paperback
I had to read this book for my college English class, and I have to admitt that I wasn't thrilled about reading a children's book. My class started reading the book last Tuesday, and I had it finished by Thursday. Even though it was a kid's book, normally I wouldn't be able to finish it in two days unless I had both days off, which I didn't. This book was so good that I couldn't put it down! I almost missed my bus stop because I was reading it on my way home. It was written so well, and had a better plot than most Adult novels. I am about to order the second book even though it is a hardcover, and I don't have any place for it.
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Format: Hardcover
I loved Kiki Strike by Kirsten Miller so much that I added it to my Top Picks for 2006 (so far) list before I had even finished it. I want to buy it for all of the 12-year-olds I know, especially the girls. I flagged some dozen pages for possible quotation (and that was holding back, trying not to flag too many). I can't wait for there to be a sequel.

Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City is told by Ananka Fishbein, looking back at the age of 18 on events that she participated in six years earlier. The mysterious Kiki Strike invites her to be part of the Irregulars, a group of six 12-year-old girls, each with special skills, who solve crimes and undertake adventures. In addition to the leader, Kiki (who aspires to be dangerous), and the bookish Ananka, there is also the inventor Luz, the chemist DeeDee, the master of disguise Betty, and the forger and thief Oona.

Their first adventure is to conquer the Shadow City, a mysterious region located deep beneath the streets and buildings of New York City. They discover a secret entrance into this hidden world, one that hasn't been visited in 100 years. They prepare for their trip, developing maps and equipment and special outfits, and a means of staving off the rats. They find skeletons and treasures, and many entrances from the Shadow City back into day-to-day New York. The Shadow City is way cool!

Soon, however, things take an unexpected and dangerous turn, and Kiki disappears, along with some gold. For two years, Ananka and the others wonder what happened to her, as circumstances suggest that their "friend" Kiki is much more dangerous than they ever imagined. Eventually Kiki returns, and further dangers ensue.

What's great about this book is how strong all six girls are.
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