Friday, December 01, 2006
Kiki Strike: inside the Shadow City
New York: Bloomsbury Children's Books 2006
When 12 year-old Manhattanite Ananka Fishbein looks out her window one Saturday morning and notices that the park across the street has disappeared into a sinkhole she is intrigued. When she observes a strange creature climbing out of the hole, she becomes downright curious and heads over to see what's going on. She climbs down the hole and finds herself in a subterranean room connected by a trap door to an underground world. She interrupted by utility workers and is unable to explore, but grabs the first thing she sees--an old book--and returns home determined to learn more about the "Shadow City". The book turns out to be a travel guide of sorts to the underground world, but does not direct her to another opening. She spends the next few months trying to figure a way back. Meanwhile, a strange new girl named Kiki Strike starts attending her school, and Ananka becomes convinced that there is a connection between Kiki and the Shadow City. An aquaintance with Kiki leads Ananka to join forces with Kiki and four ex-girl scouts with interesting skills. The girls set out to map the underground city, and must face killer rats, gangs, exiled Eastern European royalty, and danger of all description before discovering exactly who Kiki Strike is, and what she seeks to accomplish.
Kiki Strike: inside the Shadow City is a fun book. The narrator, Ananka, is witty and intelligent, and has funny insights on life and the nature of adventure and of being a girl. At the end of each chapter she gives helpful hints on such diverse topic as how to follow someone without being discovered and how to escape a kidnapper.
Miller has written a book that is exciting and funny, but which delivers no moral and teaches no lesson (unless you count the practical lessons on being a spy-girl). It is just the thing for a rainy day or a day spent at home sick. I would heartily recommend it to any girl (or guy!) who just wants a quick, light read that doesn't insult her intelligence or preach at her.