One of my students put me onto this one. (She chose it on a whim while on holiday and couldn't put it down- one of those books that will be forever connected to the place that she first read it.)
What I liked about it was the smart and sassy dialogue, the attractive setting (it doesn't get any cooler than NY) and the witty 'how to' sections at the end of every chapter which teach useful skills such as "How To Be A Master Of Disguise."
The narrator isn't the titled character. Ananka is the outsider who is initiated into the Irregulars, the group of girls lead by Kiki who explore the underground city. Ananka, endearingly, learns that she has skills and abilities that are valuable to the group. It is this sense of belonging, and the art of making friends that also makes this a valuable read.
Recommended readers: a 12 or 13 year old without a fear of rats.
- The 'how to' sections are a fun way to teach instructions and tone
- The idea of a place 'just beneath the surface' would make an interesting setting for creative fiction
- The spy genre is ripe for parody or spoof: like The Secret Show