Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City by Kirsten Miller.
This is a book I discovered not from reviews in print journals, but from my fellow kidslit bloggers who simply raved about it. And that is exactly what I am going to do too. It is the story of Ananka Fishbein, who looks out her window one day to discover a giant sinkhole in the park across the street. She decides to explore it and by doing so, changes her life. Inside the sinkhole she finds a fully decorated room and a book that leads her to understand the dirtier and darker side of New York City, including the Shadow City, a warren of connected rooms deep beneath the ground. After her adventure, she meets the strange Kiki Strike, a tiny girl who is dangerous and mysterious. Ananka then finds herself on an adventure with the Irregulars, a group of preteen girls who all have different talents that will enable them to explore the Shadow City. Author Miller has created a riveting book filled with twists and turns, betrayals and lifelong friendships, populated with preteen girls who have real adventures. It is an amazing triumph to create female preteen characters who care about both style and explosives. This is a girl book that rocks, that captures exactly what girls really want: to be dangerous and to have adventures, but not be boyish in the least. The writing is witty, vivacious and pure fun just like the characters. Miller has also added guides throughout the book on subjects like detecting a liar, snakebites, and following someone without being found out.
Run and get this for any brave preteen girl who has spunk and a thirst for adventure. It is books like this that make me sigh about the lack of real modern adventure books for girls. Tamora Pierce is my hero for featuring girls in her stories that are just as tough and strong as the boys, but we have needed a modern story that features great female characters as well. Kiki Strike fills that void, and does it with great style.