Sometimes, I look really hard for a book that I want to read. At other times, it seems like they find me.
While I was in Seattle, I was wandering around Elliott Bay Book and Company, hoping to find a good novel. I picked up a lot of books and flipped through them, but nothing really spoke to me. I was on my way out when I saw "Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City" by Kirsten Miller (Bloomsbury, $16.95) in the young adult section.
I noticed the title first, because my nickname is Kiki. I am still not really sure why, but a friend started calling me that a few years ago. The next thing I knew, a whole group of people knew me only by that name. As it turned out, they already knew at least one other Rachel, so calling me Kiki helped keep them from getting us confused.
I couldn't help but look twice at "Kiki Strike," since I'd never seen my nickname on the cover of a book before. When I glanced at the book jacket description, I decided I wanted to read it almost immediately.
In "Kiki Strike," the main character is Ananka Fishbein, a 12-year-old girl who lives in New York City. One day, the park across from her apartment is swallowed into a giant sinkhole. When she finds a rope going into the hole, she climbs down it and and finds an underground room and an old book describing the Shadow City, a secret world that exists underneath the city.
The same day, Ananka also sees Kiki Strike for the first time. Kiki has white-blond hair, wears all black and rides a Vespa scooter. She's hard to get to know, but eventually, she and Ananka become friends and decide to explore the Shadow City, along with a group of girls that Kiki recruits.
I took my time reading "Kiki Strike" because I didn't want the story to end. I especially liked the characters in the novel. They're all smart, independent, young women who aren't afraid of adventure.
The book also includes additional sections that offer advice on everything from how to tell a convincing lie to how to make a good impression. These parts reminded me of the enjoyable and funny "The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook" by Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht (Chronicle Books, $14.95).
Though I loved "Kiki Strike," I'm still not sure I'm ready to fully embrace my nickname. I wouldn't mind exploring New York City with some adventurous friends, though.
If there's a book you think I really ought to read, please