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Inside the Shadow City

(Kiki Strike #1)

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  5,680 ratings  ·  681 reviews

Life will never be the same for Ananka Fishbein after she ventures into an enormous sinkhole near her New York City apartment. A million rats, delinquent Girl Scouts out for revenge, and a secret city below the streets of Manhattan combine in this remarkable novel about a darker side of New York City you have only just begun to know about…

Paperback, 400 pages
Published May 29th 2007 by Bloomsbury USA Children's Books (first published May 30th 2006)
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4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,680 ratings  ·  681 reviews

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Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Carrie Spellman for

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
Jun 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Take a group of renegade girlscouts dressed as ninjas, an exiled Eastern European princess, some opium dens and theives liars, a horde of old, an entire city located underneath New York City's subways, and millions of murderous rats. Holding it all together is the very mysterious, and possibly dangerous, Kiki Strike. But who is this Kiki Strike? Is she a Defender of the Innocent? Or an International Assassin? Or possibly a Kung-Fu movie star?

This is an exciting and, well, just plain awesome adve
Nov 21, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who loves a good mystery and a group of smart super-spies
Recommended to Ni by: Mollie F.
This is now one of my favorite books! This book is brilliant. It's a good read for tweens and teens. This superspy really kicks butt! This group of smart, loyal, sly girls make a great team. One of the best books I have ever read. I think everyone who loves a good mystery should read it.
Feb 10, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
So I liked it, but there were some flaws that made it just ok. I assume it aspires to be a book about geeky girls who empower themselves to explore an underground city and save NYC. It falls short in my opinion. The girls may be empowered and brilliant in a singular sense, the "Irregulars" are not an empowered group of women on any level. They are negative and shallow even. I just couldn't stand by when the narrator is told to only have one cookie by a friend because she would be cuter if she lo ...more
Richard Due
Dec 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
A worthy read if ever I've met one.

There is so much to recommend this book that it is hard to know where to begin! I wanna be a girl scout! I want to be dangerous! I want to be an irregular!!! I knew almost immediately what great hands I was in; Kirsten Miller's rapid-fire and hilarious mind is stamped on every single page. But it was when I was halfway through the book (and out in the weeds as far as the mystery was concerned) when I realized I was up against a mystery as formidable as one from
Aug 06, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like an adventure story.
This book is very interesting! Some parts went over my head (aka could forget about). It was detaily. There was a lot of action and mystery though. I liked it and there is a sequal too! I hope if you read it you like it too!
Rebecca McNutt
Feb 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is so cool, it starts off slightly boring but it's sort of if Coraline were mixed with that 2006 animated film 'Flushed Away', featuring an underworld of New York City and mysterious, unique characters. The cover illustration and inside map of the city was really great, too.
Samantha Louise
Nov 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This review can also be found on my blog, NovelWorldUnfurled.

I go through phases. Every year or so, I have this phase where I want to be a spy/detective/explorer/adventurer. It lasts anywhere between two weeks to two months on average, and started when I was nine-years-old and continues annually to this day, so you can imagine how I see myself when I am in this state of mind (a combination of Indian Jones/James Bond/Katniss Everdeen/Eowyn/Kiki Strike/Black Widow/Lyra Belaqua).

I go all out. To "
Karen Syed
Mar 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Karen by: Found it on library shelf
Shelves: favorites
The Shadow City has lay beneath the streets of Manhattan for quite some time, virtually forgotten by all--well, almost all. Kiki Strike, has a secret, and a mission, actually, it's a secret mission and she needs the help of a very select few. This is when she hits the local Girl Scout troops to recruit her genius band of "Irregulars."

Ananka Fishbein and friends are in for a revelation when they team up with Kiki. With espionage in her blood and an overload of courage, Kiki leads this group of gi
Sep 07, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: tween grrls
Shelves: ya, unfinished
I am not in the intended demographic for this book, but I don't think I would have liked it even when I was younger. First of all, it takes too long (over 100 pages) before any real adventures start happening, and when they do they are underwhelming. I am perfectly willing to hang in for the long haul if the author is using the space as needed to develop characters, world-build, or set up a complicated plot -- none of which happens here. The characters are fairly two dimensional: I didn't find t ...more
Apr 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people who like adventure stories
Ananka is yearning for a life of excitement, but she doesn't realize it until it the morning she looks out her window to discover a sink hole in the park outside her window and the secret room that lies beneath. Before long she is discovering a secret city with Kiki Strike and a highly talented group of girls called the Irregulars. The girls seem unstoppable until an accident occurs that leaves them doubting the motives of their fearless leader and causes a split. When girls across the city begi ...more
Ellen Deckinga
Nov 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Delinquent Girl Scouts, spy stuff, adventure, espionage, readers, .... This book hit all my interests! There is now a need for way more than the one copy I have as all my Girl Scouts want to read it and all my students want to read it. Special thanks to the person who put it in the Little Free Library in Leander. We love it!
Melissa ownsbey
Feb 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i didnt really care for the cover it
was boring to me
but the back of the back is what made me say
this might be good
and it was awesome
hilarlois funny
lots of action
those misfit girl scouts
who dressed like ninjas
kicked butt
Mims Reilly
Feb 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a 30 year old woman, at first I was hesitant to read Kiki Strike, succumbing to the classic mistake of judging a book by its cover, I thought it would be an average middle grade book full of clichéd tropes about female friendship, crushes and high school drama. Within a chapter this book has proven my prejudices to be completely unfounded. The Irregulars are a group of girls assembled by Kiki Strike for their skills and intelligence, each has a talent essential to exploring mapping New York’s ...more
The FountainPenDiva, Old school geek chick and lover of teddy bears
Kiki Strike is the just the type of MOXIE heroine I'm always looking for. Smart, fearless, resourceful and just all around cool! The narrator Ananka is amazing and makes me smile--reminds me of how much fun being a curious and daredevil girl can be. It's been so refreshing to read about an angst-free kick-butt heroine and real girl friendships.

What I really love about this book is that author Kristin Miller actually understands the basic fact that setting a novel in a cosmopolitan and diverse ci
Jan 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Staying at a friend's house, my daughter borrowed this from my friend's daughter, who really liked it. Turns out my friend, the mom, had read it too. Well, after my daughter read it, she sweetly asked me to read it so we could talk about it. And I really, really liked it, too and not only for the mother-daughter bonding it created.

Kiki Strike lives out every girl's fantasy, if every girl is a native New Yorker who is dazzled by her own city's mystery and elegance. When I was a little girl, I had
Apr 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book for me, was a different genre- so it was interesting reading it. Ananka Fishbein- a high school student at an all girls school in New York city lived what some people might call a rather boring life. Until she meets Kiki Strike. A rebellious girl who befriends Ananka and other girls. They lead a more exciting life. (I'm trying not to spoil anything :D) I found the begining a bit boring,and I really wanted to get past it. Being persistent, I kept reading it. I got torwards the middle, a ...more
Nov 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 10-14
Shelves: mystery
I almost gave it four stars. Probably 3.5. I liked it a lot, but did I REALLY like it? Hmmm. I enjoyed the history, and the cleverness, and the camaraderie of the girls, but the plausibility factor, or should it be the implausibility factor, tripped me up a few times. It's cute. It's a fun read for the age range (which I would put at 11-15). The end-of-chapter instructions by Ananka on how to be and do stuff were what almost put it up to a four-star rating. The test for me is, if there are seque ...more
Jul 12, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the adventuresome
I wish this book had been written sooner. If it had been available when I was younger, the path of my life might have been completely different. Kiki is a modern heroine for any girl who feels a little hampered by the ordinary.
Part story, part how-to guide, for anyone interested in being a spy, getting away with the unthinkable, and making the most of what you've got. From now on, it will be a book I give to girls of my acquaintance so they will grow up with good role models.
The very concept was
Mar 29, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009, novels
This could have been so, so, so great. A group of girls venture into the "Shadow City" underneath New York City, discovering secret abandoned speakeasies, dancehalls, catacombs, and tunnels -- a dream come true for passionate urban explorers like me. Unfortunately, the author loses faith in the intrinsic interestingness of the concept and whips up an unsatisfying -- and unevenly written -- scenario involving espionage, ransom kidnappings, and secret royalty. It would have been perfectly sublime ...more
Jan 11, 2009 rated it it was ok
So, I might be willing to give this a 2.5 because of the idea, but since I can't it's a 2. The idea behind this book is great! A secret underground city in New York explored by independent, quirky young girls? Could be really cool, but I think Miller fell short. Her characters were pretty flat, unlikeable, and stereotypical. I was disappointed by the description and depth of exploration in the Shadow City. I also think the underlying story with Kiki was not even close to developed enough. I was ...more
Dec 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I think being holed up at home during a hurricane is the perfect time to reread a great adventure story about a band of girls with unusual talents exploring the underground tunnels of NYC—and maybe solving some mysteries along the way. This is the first of a series of three books, though I always hope Miller will find time for a couple mo
Nov 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review for both this book and Kiki Strike: the Empress's Tomb.

Ooooo I like these mysteries for some reason. The story is told from Ananka’s viewpoint. She’s a poor student living in New York city with perpetual student parents who basically pay her no mind and attending a girl’s school for gifted, mostly very rich, students. Then one day something interesting happens—The ground collapses across the street from her apartment building and she see’s a gnome-like being exit. Ananka herself expl
Nov 17, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kiki Strike and the Irregulars will teach you how any seemingly ordinary young girl can become an ace detective! In addition to the central mystery (which is itself fascinating with unexpected twists and turns) the book is full of information about New York City's history and dark secrets, and advice on how to tail suspects, disguise yourself, learn basic self defense and essential first aid! Such a fun book!
Sep 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Michelle by: Lili
Shelves: youngadult, self
What a fun read! I wish this book was around when I was 11. Mostly, this is a mix between a James Bond and Nancy Drew novel. But, the narrator, Ananka, adds tips on topics like disguise, surveillance, and "how to kick some butt". I was so drawn in that I thought, momentarily at least, that I could personally escape a kidnapping plot or trail someone without getting caught. Kiki, Ananka, and the gang of girls are tough and smart. Sidney Bristow, just a few years younger.
Nov 04, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: my little sister
Recommended to Whitney by: my cousin
Shelves: children-s-lit
Much better reading for young adults than The Disreputable History...this novel doesn't make any false claims of feminism. Instead it describes the disreputable history of girls who are not solely interested in the dealings of the boys around them. Instead of denouncing all the feminine atributes of their school mates, Kiki Strike and her pals use their femininity to their advantage.
Christie Angleton
I adored this book for so many reasons, namely the all-girl cast of brilliant, heroic, and selfless characters. Finally, girls are getting all the glory and saving the day! However, I could have lived without all the talk about "pot bellies" and "baby fat." Come on, ladies. Isn't it time we cared more about the brains in our heads than the pounds on our bodies?
Jan 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The starting was incredibly boring. So boring in fact that I put the book down and didn't pick it back up for 2 months. But I'm glad I did because it turned out to be one of my favorite books. There are plots twists and suspence and lovable characters and mysteries and I just love it.
Jun 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
A totally awesome thrilling book that kept me wanting to keep reading it until I found out what the conclusion was.. Probably wouldn't mind rerereading it-Kiki Strike was an awesome book
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Other books in the series

Kiki Strike (3 books)
  • The Empress's Tomb (Kiki Strike, #2)
  • The Darkness Dwellers (Kiki Strike, #3)
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