Friday, July 31, 2009

Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City

The premise of this book hooked me the moment I heard it: a mysterious 12-year-old girl recruits other girls, each with remarkable skills (lock picking, forgery, gadget-making, etc.) in order to form a team capable of penetrating the Shadow City, a secret underground city beneath New York City.

The story is narrated from the point of view of Ananka Fishbein, who attends an exclusive private school for girls, which is where she first meets Kiki Strike, an odd girl with white hair who is very tiny for her age. Kiki is fascinating to Ananka, and when she is invited to join the select group of talented girls (recruited by Kiki from various Girl Scout troops across the city), Ananka is most definitely in. But as the girls venture underground into the forgotten city built by mobsters and criminals in bygone years, it becomes evident that Kiki is not telling them her true motive for exploring underground and making a map of the Shadow City. She's up to something else altogether...

There were things I liked about this book: the premise, first of all, is an intriguing one. I love the concept of a team of twelve-year-old girls honing their various skills and exploring a mysterious underground city. The narrator had a lively voice and told the story in an interesting way. Yet somehow I never really managed to connect with any of the characters - I never felt that emotional resonance that made me worry about their fate one way or another. The girls, despite their different areas of expertise, were fairly interchangeable - one of them was grumpy most of the time, but I had difficulty differentiating the others. The plot calls for a hearty suspension of disbelief, but it is entertaining and certainly held my attention. This book reminded me of The Mysterious Benedict Society (another book where I failed to connect emotionally with the characters but is also hugely popular among young readers), and should definitely appeal to fans of that series.

Books in the Kiki Strike series:
1. Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City
2. Kiki Strike: The Empress's Tomb

Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City (#1 in the Kiki Strike series) by Kirsten Miller (Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2006)

Also reviewed at:
Big A Little a: "Kiki Strike is a plot-heavy book in a good way: it's always interesting and keeps you guessing. I didn't know what would happen until the very end."
A Chair, a Fireplace & a Tea Cozy: "This is a fabulous book; the writing and voice are amazing, the plot is fast moving, intricate, and clever, and the girls are inspiring and likable and unique."
What KT Reads: "I loved that throughout the book you never really knew who to trust and what their motives were."


  1. This sounds like it would be fun read. I've read a couple reviews from this series, so maybe I will check them out!

  2. Well that's an interesting book cover! I love the premise too but I have a feeling that I would ultimately be a bit disappointed with it for some reason. I know I'd love it if the whole "group of girls honing special skills" was written for a more adult audience. Maybe focusing on each girl during the series.

  3. I do think this is a cool book cover, and it sort of sounds interesting, but I am not sure if I would like it. I'm glad to hear that you had similar feelings about The Mysterious Benedict Society, because I felt like I was the only one who didn't really connect with it (to the point that I didn't even bother to pick up the second one!).

  4. Stephanie - I'll be interested to hear what you think. The other reviews I've read were unequivocally positive.

    Ladytink - I think that is a fun idea. Not sure what the sequel focuses on.

    Cat - I never did pick up the sequel for MBS, and I think I'll probably pass on the sequel to this one, too, since it's such a struggle to make any kind of headway on my TBR list as it is!

  5. I like stories that take place underground or have tunnels oe whatever. Shame this one wasn't all it could have been though as the premise sounds fascinating. Perhaps I'll look for it in the library.

  6. Cath - Me, too. There is something about those dark, mysterious places to explore that always fires my imagination!

  7. I love the cover and the premise for this, but it sounds like it just missed the mark. Will wait and see if you read the next one and if it improves any.

  8. Rhinoa - At this point I have no plans to read it, but you never know. I am easily swayed by blogging-buddy reviews, as you all know. :-)


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