Warning: this post contains excessive gushing and fan-girling. Kiki Strike is not new. In fact, in perfect keeping with the tone and titular character of the book, it has cult status among YA bloggers. Kiki has an impressive web presence, including this this website. But rumours are swirling about the release of book 3, which made me turn to the book that started it all.
Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City has a sort of retro, film noir, gothic, superhero vibe, except that it is none of these things. The book takes place in a vaguely contemporary New York City and is about an enigmatic girl, the white-haired, Vespa-riding Kiki Strike, who assembles a team of ex-girl scouts with remarkable talents (including a chemist, a disguise artist, an “electro-genius,” and a hacker) to find and map a secret underground city, called The Shadow City. The girls call themselves The Irregulars and are dedicated to protecting New York. There is no reliance on magic or super human ability, only street smarts, skills, and co-operation, which I guess makes it more Babysitters Club meets Ocean’s Eleven, set in New York. Do you see why I’m in love?
Kirsten Miller is a top-notch writer who clearly adores her subject matter. Her characters (The Irregulars) and setting (New York) are vividly and lovingly depicted. Ananka, who has mad reseach skills and access to an incredible library, is the perfect narrator; a self-described observer, she is in the middle of the action yet also slightly detached. This is perhaps the reason why Miller writes her Kiki Strike blog from Ananka’s voice. The structure of the book is somewhat unusual in that there is a pretty major climax early on, a few years pass, and then Miller builds towards another plot peak. It goes without saying that this would make an excellent movie. Given the superhero/comic book fever sweeping through Hollywood, one hopes it is only a matter of time.
The Kiki Strike books are an excellent choice for girls (and also boys- these are not gushy, girly reads) 11+ who are looking for a mystery that is fun, different, and notably sassy. Fans of The Girl Who Could Fly, The Red Blazer Girls, Nancy Drew, and Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls books will clamour for Kiki. I desperately want to be a member of The Irregulars. For the time being, one of these t-shirts will have to suffice.
Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City and Inside the Empress’ Tomb are available now from Bloomsbury.