55 of 60 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 2010
So I picked up a copy of The Search for WondLa, mostly because I wanted a nice light little read and the cover reminded me very strongly of the originals of L. Frank Baum's books.
I am quite happy to say that the prose was strongly reminiscent of the Oz books as well. The story centers on Eva Nine as she is raised in isolation by a robot named Muthr (multi utility task help robot). When her life is upended by an alien hunter, strange adventures ensue, mostly centering around trying to find other humans and/or avoiding Besteel the alien hunter. After getting turned out of her home, the Sanctuary, they go looking for other humans in an alien world full of trees that look and act like anemones and water bear creatures that have a limited telepathy with humans.
The science involved is as soft as silken tofu, but since it isn't the main focus of the narrative (outside of a means to describe the setting) it didn't bother me.The primary focus is on Eva, Muthr and the first alien they meet, Rovender Kitts, and how they interact with each other. The difference in parenting style between Rovender and Muthr is especially noticeable, with the one advocating experimentation and exploration while the other one does most of the cautioning. It makes for an interesting subtext and one can see how Eva uses both learned traits to get herself out of trouble and elude capture.
It has the wide eyed wonder of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz coupled with the bleak and lonely setting of the opening scenes in Wall-E, especially during the beginning. It never truly loses that sense of wonderment no matter what trials Eva and company face although serious tragedy and tough dicisions are treated with the gravity that they should be. This is not a story about rebelling against authority or about fighting an epidemic or an invading force of Martians. This is a story about exploration and discovery, something I haven't seen in much science fiction these days. I found it to be a lovely change of pace.
Speaking of pacing, that's probably the one place where I would have something to say against this book. It does get a bit slow in some places, but for the most part, the places where the pace of the story slowed down made sense from the characters' mental and emotional state. When they got contemplative, the pace slowed and the narrative seemed to gain a softer feel to it.
A few more small details that I liked were some of the plays on names (Eva Nine = ninth Eve being the most obvious of them) and her shock of how inadequate Muthr's original cocoon parenting strategy initially was and some of the surprises at the end. There's a bit of focus on a reverse anthropology going on too (making the strange familiar) that makes the ending more interesting too. I'd pegged Eva's WondLa as somehow relating to The Wonderful Land of Oz (which actually occurred to me thirty pages into the book) and it was really interesting to see how that WondLa and the hope that Eva assigned to it shifted from being something concretely external into something more nebulously internal.
When trying to describe this book I kept coming up with "girly science fiction." After due consideration, I think that's the right term to describe it. And I think that the science fiction genre needs more more of it. One can only take so much bleak dystopia that can only be remedied with a liberal dose of testosterone fueled rebellion or desperation. Give me more wonder any day. ^_^
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on September 22, 2010
Twelve-year-old Eva Nine has spent her entire life living in Sanctuary, an underground compound where she is cared for by the motherly robot, Muthr (Multi-Utility Task Help Robot). She's never met another human nor visited the surface and she longs to do both, dreaming of a world - and of the companionship and love to be found there - that she's only seen glimpses of on scraps of paper. When Sanctuary is attacked, Eva is forced to escape to the surface alone, where she soon finds that the reality of life there is more amazing and puzzling than she ever imagined. It is also far more dangerous.
We share Eva's wonder and astonishment as she views the night sky for the first time and understand her fear when she first feels the heat of the sun on her skin and panics, thinking it will burn her. And it is those two things - wonder and fear - that drive much of the story. Eva is smart and brave, caring, curious and resourceful, but she is also young and inexperienced. The controlled amounts of knowledge that have been passed down to her prove to be woefully inadequate as well as either inaccurate or deliberately false (or perhaps a mixture of the two). It seems that everything Eva sees and experiences just leave her (and us) with more questions. Author Tony DiTerlizzi has done a very good job of allowing readers to share Eva's confusion and to be in on each discovery right along with her.
Because I found Eva so likeable and engagingly real, I really cared about her and wanted to share her journey as she sought to discover just who, what and where she is. Though I found the writing just a bit clunky at times and occasionally wished for the pace to pick up (possibly because I really, REALLY wanted to know what was going to happen!), my connection to Eva kept me involved in the story and certainly kept me turning the pages.
Lavishly illustrated (again by DiTerlizzi, whose artwork I so admired in Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You, The Search for WondLa is also beautiful to look at. Through the art, DiTerlizzi not only shows us Eva's world, but beautifully conveys her wonder and curiosity as she discovers it. The drawings add tremendously to the whole, making The Search for WondLa not just a book but an experience.
The conclusion led me to believe that at least one sequel is planned (or had darned well better be). I'm already anxiously awaiting it.
Note: A very attractive website has been created for this book. There, readers can try out "WondLa-Vision" by holding certain pages of the book up to their webcam which activates an interactive 3D map. I don't have a webcam, so can't explore WondLa-Vision, but the demo on the website certainly looks intriguing! Visitors can also read or listen to an excerpt, play some games and download wallpapers, etc. This is a book website done right and I recommend a visit.
Paramount reportedly has optioned the film rights.
Note to Kindle owners: Because of the artwork in The Search for WondLa, this is one of those books that you may wish to consider purchasing in hardcover. Though it appears Kindle has done a good job of incorporating the artwork, IMHO, it can't match the "real" book.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 6, 2010
A fine, highly imaginative story for, I estimate, 4th grade and up. The characters are interesting and varied, and the setting is lots of fun to wander around in, too. There is some similarity to the Oz books.
My only criticisms would be, first, faulty copyediting -- for instance, the past tense of "spit" is not "spit" (and you'd be surprised how much spitting goes on in the story; there were at least four instances, and all of them were wrong). As someone who learned how to write by emulating my childhood reading, this was painful to me. There were also sentence fragments that were not intentional.
And, second, I wish the author was a little more ... what's the best word? ... sensitive to word-craft. Too many times, in having a character react, he has them sneer. Really, how many times can characters sneer in one story? This is particularly jarring in the case of the "pure in spirit" heroine. I'm not sure I could pull off a sneer, and I've been out in the rough and tumble world a lot longer than Eva. This may be quibbling for most readers.
I have to add how marvelous and entrancing the art is ... I lingered over each drawing, and went back to look again after reading the book, examining the creatures, expressions, and wonderful imagination and detail in each one. Great art work is what really makes a book stand out. I absolutely loved the art.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 2010
I was on the lookout for a book which we could read together as a family and happened upon "The Search for WondLa" in the store. The summary on the book jacket looked interesting and the illustrations looked like they would grab the kids' attention. I was not disappointed on either of these points. Each day, we would read a chapter or two together and would get more and more wrapped-up in the story to the point that nobody could wait until it was "WandLa" time each day! The ending was emotional and satisfying (even my 9 year-old son was in tears) while making us anxious for the continuation.
In all, the author has done a fantastic job of creating a tale that is simultaneously enjoyable to a 5 year-old, a 9 year-old, and two grown adults.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 2, 2010
WOW, I don't even know where to begin. This book was AMAZING and I'm glad to hear it might be made into a movie. The author is so detailed in this "new" world you feel like you're part of it. Although this is considered a teen fiction I think everyone will love it.
The book has so many emotions, you'll feel intense as Eva Nine and her friends try to escape Besteel. You will get sad when something happens to Muthr. You'll feel joy & love many times through out the book while Eva Nine meets some new friends and they help each other in more ways then one. And at the end of the book you'll have an "AH HA" moment when you will see a parallel between this book and another.
Sorry I'm being so veg on the book. It truly is an amazing book and I don't want to give too much away. This is one book your won't be disappointed in. I'm happy to know that their will be more books for us to join in and follow Eva Nine and her friends with.
I also want to note a cool feature with this book and with the online website. With the book, internet connection and a webcam you can get "WondLa Vision" also known as "Augmented Reality". There are keys in the book that you point to the webcam and you are taken on a interactive trip through a map of planet "Orbona". It took me a bit to figure out how to get it to work but once I did, it made the book come even more to life.
* Disclaimer / Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Simon & Schuster Canada to facilitate my review. This post reflects my honest, personal opinion which may differ from yours. No monetary compensation was provided for this post.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 13, 2010
I've never picked up a Tony DiTerlizzi book before, though I watched The Spiderwick Chronicles movie when it came out. I think I'm definitely going to have to pick up that series after reading The Search for Wondla.
WondLa is about Eva Nine, a twelve-year-old girl raised by her robot, Muthr, in an underground facility called a Sanctuary. Eva longs for nothing but seeing the surface, and has her dreams thrust upon her one evening when a dangerous huntsman destroys her home. She finds the world strange and dangerous, and unlike anything she has been trained for.
I really genuinely enjoyed this book, and it surprised me, as I usually don't read anything from the "juvenile" section. However, I love seeing a good sci-fi novel out there for kids, and I was impressed at how the book didn't "talk down" to it's audience, like a lot of juvenile fiction I've encountered. It also tackles some very adult themes, such as death, slaughter of innocents, and guilt.
The pull for this book from the beginning for me was, though, the absolutely stunning artwork! I'm a sucked for books with illustrations, and WondLa definitely did not disappoint in that area. The two-tonal art plates pop up at the beginning of every chapter, with a few smaller ones scattered throughout - some of which are important for things outside the book.
The characters were all extremely likable. Eva Nine was a bit of a brat, but a believable one. Mr. DiTerlizzi definitely got the personality of a twelve-year-old girl down to a t. Muthr is a strong presence, though she isn't in the forefront of the story the entire time. Rovender Kitt is the strong, adult personality needed to keep Eva on her path, and Otto the giant water bear is just too cute for words.
My only cons for the book was a slow start (though that was just me personally), and one "squick"-worthy scene involving the huntsman, but again, that's just my own personal taste.
The cliffhanger ending was absolutely perfect, and has me hungry for more. Fortunately, this is a trilogy, and I cannot wait for the next one to come out! I'm thinking this may even be one I'll buy for myself.
(review posted originally @ The Tealeaf Review)
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 2010
Eva Nine has lived her entire life in an underground Sanctuary. Her every need is met. The bunker has a garden that grows her food. There is a holography chamber where she learns about the outside world. She even has a robotic caretaker called Muthr (Multi Utility Task Help Robot) who looks after her. Eva longs to see the outside world, but the protective Muthr thinks she is not prepared. This all changes when the Sanctuary is attacked. Eva's training helps her to survive, but much of what she's learned is useless in a world where the technology she has depended upon no longer functions, or cannot guide her through a world it does not recognize. Carrying her most prized possession --- a picture of a child, a grownup, and a robot bearing a torn inscription reading "WondLa" --- Eva sets out to see if she can find other humans who can tell her who she is, where she is, and what has happened to the world she thought she once knew.
Author and illustrator Tony DiTerlizzi, best known for his Spiderwick Chronicles collaboration with Holly Black, has made his reputation on illustrations of unknown worlds. With hints of Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz and Star Wars, THE SEARCH FOR WONDLA is built around the 70 illustrations that accompany the book. Eva's journey takes her through numerous landscapes and two cities filled with fantastical creatures. Joining Eva on her travels is Rovender Kitt, a friendly vagabond who has the appearance of a mix between an ostrich, a reptile and a goat. There is also Otto, the enormous water bear, who communicates telepathically and is the size of a mammoth, while resembling a bear crossed with a turtle. These kinds of creatures --- including sentient plants --- fill the world of Orbona and make Eva the alien in an unfamiliar landscape.
DiTerlizzi also fills the world with inventions both new and old. A vocal transcoder given to her by Rovender utilizes a dust of tiny transmitters to allow Eva to understand the inhabitants of Orbona. But many of the technologies she relies upon as a part of her daily life in the Sanctuary do not work outside. Later she finds many of them housed in the imperial city's museum where the Empress of Orbona also hopes to add Eva to her collection. One of the most essential pieces of technology Eva uses is an omnipod, which looks something like a spyglass, and helps her interface with all the other technologies in her Sanctuary. Hoping to add to the interactive quality of the text, THE SEARCH FOR WONDLA also has a website where readers can download software for "WondLaVision." By holding up pictures from the book to the computer's camera, readers can unlock a map of WondLa that displays animated cutouts of the characters traveling across the map. While not as interactive as I had expected it to be, it certainly speaks to the enormous amount of design and planning that went into this beautifully produced book.
In an interview with School Library Journal, DiTerlizzi talked about his inspiration for creating a novel-length book with so many illustrations. "I have always wondered why there is an unwritten rule about bookmaking that says, "the older the audience the less art there should be." Yet, if you go back a century and examine titles from The Golden Age of Children's Books, they abound with mature and sophisticated tales matched with mature and sophisticated visuals...The art is exquisite and hardly juvenile --- and that was when books were not competing with the highly visual mediums of television, films, and video games for a child's attention."
Despite the interactive elements and a space-age setting, DiTerlizzi sees THE SEARCH FOR WONDLA as part of a larger storytelling tradition. He writes, "Yes, WondLa is full of many classic sci-fi elements (robots, aliens, hovercraft, etc.), but it is a fairy tale at its heart. It contains many familiar fairy-tale plot motifs we all know of: a little girl lost in the woods, an evil huntsman after her, forest spirits who aid her in response to her own kindness and an uncaring queen who rules the land."
THE SEARCH FOR WONDLA is the first book in a planned trilogy. At nearly 500 pages, it ends with an enormous reveal about the location of Orbona and a cliffhanger involving Eva's quest for other humans. The novel is best for readers who enjoy extensive world-building and can cherish the kind of detail with which DiTerlizzi imbues his world.
--- Reviewed by Sarah A. Wood
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 12, 2015
The Search for WondLa is the story of twelve year old Eva Nine, a human girl who spent every second of her life underground in her home called a sanctuary, but has to leave to escape from bad events. She leaves her home to find a safe place. During her journey, her omnipod, a phone-like device, can’t identify any of the creatures and plants. As she travels, she makes friends and enemies with the alien inhabitants and she searches for other people like her.
I like this book for many reasons. The point of view is in third person, limited to Eva, and it was written very well. Throughout the book, certain events remind Eva of things that she has seen and learned in her sanctuary. This helps the reader get an idea of what something, or someone, looks like. I also like that the names for the aliens sound like real names, like Rovender Kitt, Eva’s closest friend, instead of using a random set of letters.
My favorite character is Eva Nine. I was her age when I first read the book, and the book was the biggest one I had read so far. Eva lived in her sanctuary with Multi-Utility Task Help Robot zero-six, or Muthr for short. Muthr is a robot built to raise Eva, since Eva wasn’t naturally born. Eva has the personality you would find in normal tweens, sarcasm, attitude, etc., so I could relate to her. She also still has some childishness in her. She still plays with her Beeboo dolls, characters from a cartoon she watches called Beeboo and Company, even though she is too old for them.
The Search for WondLa is a very good book. I think everyone should read it, especially if you are a fan of the fantasy or Sci-Fi genres. The Search for WondLa is only the beginning of Eva Nine’s story, with two more books in the the trilogy. I think Tony DiTerlizzi deserves an applause.
Final Review: 5 Stars (out of 5)
Book Source: Personal Copy (bought from used bookstore)
This review is also posted on GoodReads and http://www.frugalbookcollectors.com
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 17, 2010
Eva Nine is a lone human girl being raised in an underground pod by her caretaker, MUTHR, or the Multi-Utility Task Help Robot. By the age of 12, Eva longs to know what is above the surface, and while she loves Muthr very much, she is curious to discover if there are any other humans on the planet. The story is somewhat inspired by, but is not a literal re-interpretation of Frank L. Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The rich, detailed graphic novel style art, in black and green tones is deeply reminiscent of W.W. Denslow's original illustrations for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. My first piece of advice to readers is to drop any preconceived notions about Oz. I drove myself crazy for the first few chapters, thinking, things like, "Okay, if Eva is Dorothy, does that make Muthr the Tin Man? Or is Muthr more like Auntie Em?" When she meets up with alien traveler Rovender Kitt, I wondered if he is supposed to be a counterpart of the Scarecrow. And is Otto, the tardigrade bear that Eva is able to telepathically communicate with, more like the Cowardly Lion? Or more like Toto? Put those thoughts aside, and just enjoy the story for what it is, a highly imaginative and gorgeously illustrated tale about coming of age and finding your place in the world.
I loved Eva Nine's loosely braided hair and futuristic clothes. The technology is well-thought out and truly lends another layer of depth to the story. Walking plants, menacing alien hunters and a varied and harsh landscape create a strange and eerie world. I was glad to see the language barrier between alien species meaningfully addressed, and even more pleased that it was quickly circumvented in such a clever and workable way. Eva relies on her Omnipod, a silver device shaped somewhat like a hand mirror to diagnose and cure illnesses, function as a flashlight, and to store and record information, the same way modern readers might be inseparable from their iphones. Her flying car, a classic, "this must the future" item is widely regarded as an antique.
Much has been said about the augmented reality maps embedded in the book. I'm sure that the technical requirements (a computer with webcam, the ability to download a player) will foil many readers, and while the interactive 3-D maps are really, really cool, with a lot of "gee whiz" factor, you don't need to sign in to the website to enjoy the book on it's own.
The secrets revealed at the end of the book were stunning and something that I was not expecting (despite, in hindsight, the very obvious clues.) The Search for WondLA feels like an instant classic and is sure to be enjoyed for generations to come. I hear a rumor that this is the first book of a planned trilogy. I know I'm eager to return to the magnificent world that DiTerlizzi has created.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 11, 2010
I just finished this book and cannot say enough about it! What a wonderful story! I rarely comment on books that I have read but I think "The Search for WondLa" is something special. I work at a library and can think of a lot of young patrons who will enjoy this imaginative story.