Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Review: Inside the Shadow City by Kirsten Miller

Inside the Shadow City by Kirsten Miller
Series: Kiki Strike Book 1
Genre: Contemporary (MG?)
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There's something wrong with the park across from Ananka Fishbein's apartment. A huge sinkhole has opened in the ground and, as she stares out her window, she see's a tiny form, looking like a monkey, climbing out of the sinkhole. By the time she arrives at the park, all that's left is a rope, leading down.

What follows is a discovery about the secret, underground, side of NYC and deposed royalty. Delinquent girl scouts, rats and teen girl super spies abound.

There's a bit of danger in reading a book you don't know a lot about. Just reading the back cover (or dust jacket) of books usually doesn't tell you a lot. (Conversely, sometimes it tells you too much.) But, I went into this book knowing very little about it but having several preconceived notions as to what this book was going to be.

I thought it was going to be about five friends that found and started exploring a secret city under New York City.

I was wrong.

This is about six strangers brought together by a young girl to investigate where the exits/entrances are for this secret city. Even this story is quickly hijacked by royalty of a fictional country - which, really, is what this story is all about - and some sort of strange drug.

The book starts off painfully slow and never really picks up pace from there. The titular 'Shadow City' is barely even described and a tiny portion of this book is actually spent exploring it. When you have an underground city, I expect something kind of ominous something, and a lot of time spent describing the atmosphere. Beyond the rats, it's really difficult to get a clear picture of the city.

Add that to the fact that this book covers over two years (I dislike it when books that cover that much time) and I wasn't what you would call happy about the direction this book went.

That doesn't mean this books was bad. What is was though was not what I was expecting.

This story is well written. The author's style is fast paced, but she sacrifices a lot of descriptions to make it that way. While the characters were described almost enough to get a clear picture of them and the streets of New York don't really need page long descriptions, there was little that actually was described well enough to see it.

The characters were… actually, I didn't really like the characters much. It was awesome how they're all girls and go snooping around and I like how there weren't many guys. But…taken as individuals, the girls really weren't likable. They were bitchy to each other, always jumping to conclusions about the other girls, telling another girl she'd be cuter if she lost weight, obsessing about clothes or makeup and on and on. Not once did I get attached to any of these girls.

Almost each and every chapter ends with a little 'how-to' segment. Like 'How to Tell a Lie' 'How to Catch a Liar' 'How to Foil a Kidnapping' and all sorts of useful stuff to the burgeoning super-spy. This was a really cute idea and - while it does lean on the fourth wall pretty heavily - I love it. Of course, this caused a problem in that some of the tips seemed way too mature for the apparent MG demographic. But then parts of the book felt way to juvenile for a YA book. (Honestly, I don't know who this book is directed towards, but I know it's not me.)

In short, this wasn't a bad book, but there was also nothing in it for me to like and recommend to other readers.