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The Search for WondLa Hardcover – September 21, 2010
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Amazon Best of the Month, September 2010: Tony DiTerlizzi's fantastically imaginative new middle grade novel, The Search for WondLa, combines old-fashioned storytelling with a highly original twist. Eva Nine is a curious and sensitive 12-year old, who has existed only in a subterranean home called Sanctuary, cared for by a robot named Muthr. Eva's great desire is to go aboveground, and her wish comes true, though not as she had imagined. On the surface, Eva goes in search of other humans--she has never met one--and soon meets both friend and foe. DiTerlizzi’s gorgeous black and white illustrations enhance the cinematic quality of his writing, and the book includes augmented reality maps where readers can follow Eva and her friends's travels in 3D. A surprising conclusion to this action-packed story of friendship and belonging will leave readers clamoring for more. --Seira Wilson
From School Library Journal
Gr 5-8–Twelve-year-old Eva Nine is being raised by Muthr, a pale blue robot who is loving and maternal (she speaks in the sweet, unflappable tones of a 1950s sit-com mom), in an underground home on the planet Orbona. When a marauder destroys her home, she leaves Sanctuary in a quest to find other humans like herself. Aboveground she finds a fantastic and frightening world populated by malevolent wandering trees, a giant beast who is pursuing her, nasty sand-snipers, and more. With the aid of Rovender, a lanky blue creature with backward-bending knees, and Otto, a giant water bear with whom she can communicate telepathically, Eva faces many dangers, including capture by a taxidermist who wants to skin her in order to create a living fossil for display. This first book in the series concludes with her arrival at her destination in the ancient city of ruins. The abundant illustrations, drawn in a flat, two-tone style, are lush and enhance readers' understanding of this unique universe. In addition, augmented reality is used in three places. By holding up the page from the book to a webcam, an interactive map appears on the screen. Readers can watch as the landscape where Eva Nine is traveling unfolds. DiTerlizzi is pushing the envelope in his latest work, nearly creating a new format that combines a traditional novel with a graphic novel and with the interactivity of the computer. Yet, beneath this impressive package lies a theme readers will easily relate to: the need to belong, to connect, to figure out one's place in the world. The novel's ending is a stunning shocker that will leave kids frantically awaiting the next installment.Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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Top Customer Reviews
Eva Nine is a twelve-year-old human girl who has grown up in a self-sustaining underground shelter and yearns to see the outside world that Muthr, her robot guardian, has so far forbidden her to explore. One day, she gets her wish, though not in the way she expected. A brutish hunter named Bezeel breaks into Eva’s home, and Eva is forced to evacuate above ground for the first time in her life. She is stunned to discover that the world above does not look anything like the holograms of Earth she has seen in her virtual reality survival training. While on the run, Eva meets a biped reptilian creature named Rovender who prefers to travel alone but gradually warms to Eva’s friendly company. Bezeel captures them both, but they manage to escape and also to free another creature, a giant water bear (not the furry kind of bear but a tardigrade) named Otto who immediately forms a bond with his rescuers, especially Eva. Rovender agrees to help Eva return home for Muthr, whom she left behind, and Otto volunteers to carry them on his back. Once they are reunited with the endearingly maternal robot, the new band of travelers begins their quest to find a place Eva knows only from one word on a mysterious scrap of paper she found in her home: WondLa. Eva encounters many dangers her virtual survival training never taught her, and she must learn by experience and the help of her companions how to find her way in this strange world aboveground. Although the story is enchanting enough on its own, DiTerlizzi’s detailed illustrations enhance the experience as they bring to life the many strange creatures and contraptions of his creation, making this feel almost like a graphic novel.
"The Search for WondLa" reminds me of Star Wars, not only because of the similarities between the stories, but also because I think "WondLa" has the makings of a great movie. I don’t know if there’s any chance of this happening, but I would love to see DiTerlizzi’s illustrations (which at times also remind me of Hayao Miyazaki’s "Spirited Away") transformed to a full-length animated film. In the meantime, I am definitely going to read the rest of the series.
Eva Nine has been living in an underground bunker for all of her twelve years of life. She’s being raised by a slightly humanoid robot named MUTHR (it’s an anagram), her omnipod (a personal hand-held device) and her computerized home called Sanctuary. Eva Nine is the only human she’s ever seen. What’s above ground? Why is she not allowed out? Are there any other humans on Earth? If not, where are they? Soon some of Eva’s questions will be answered because somebody is hunting her and to escape, she must leave Sanctuary by herself.
When Eva Nine gets outside, she finds that everything is unrecognizable and nothing is as she’s been taught. The flora and fauna are unknown to her omnipod which is usually able to identify anything. She encounters strange enemies and makes friends with creatures that seem impossible. Could it be that she’s not on Earth? Where is she? Why is somebody hunting her? And what is WondLa, a word she saw on an old scrap of paper? With a couple of new friends, Eva Nine sets out to discover the truth.
The Search for WondLa has a great premise and a delightful heroine. It’s easy to care about Eva Nine, a sweet girl who’s totally alone in a foreign world. The setting is intriguing (both above and below ground) and the story is filled with weird creatures, some of whom are quite loveable. The print version of The Search for WondLa has some wonderful art which you can see at Tony DiTerlizzi’s website. (DiTerlizzi is the co-creator of the popular SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES.)
Unfortunately, I didn’t find the plot of The Search for WondLa to be engaging for long. While I liked Eva Nine and was interested in her situation and the answers to all her questions, I thought that most of the plot dragged and was repetitive. Eva Nine escapes the Sanctuary, travels, gets caught, escapes, travels, gets caught, escapes, travels. There’s a little more to it than that, but not much. As she travels, there is a lot of description of Eva’s world, but even this is dull to read, unfortunately. If there had been beauty in the prose, or if the author had given me something deep to contemplate, I would have liked this part better.
Eva’s situation is desperate, but I never felt it. Every time there’s some sort of tension, it’s resolved quickly. I was also never convinced that Eva Nine was truly hungry, thirsty, tired, dirty, or scared. Eva Nine seems to float above the surface of the world and rarely feels truly engaged, though she’s always describing it to us. Similarly, the weird creatures she meets never felt fully alien. They look strange and each has its own cutesy speech mannerism, but other than that they feel human.
The Search for WondLa will likely appeal to Middle Grade readers, its target audience, but maybe not to older readers who would like a more solid feeling world, more beauty in the writing style, and something to think about. The story ends on a major cliffhanger that will thrill those who’ve enjoyed the book, but I decided that I didn’t care enough to purchase the sequel.
I listened to the audiobook version which was produced by Simon & Schuster and read by actress Teri Hatcher. This is Hatcher’s first audiobook experience (at least the first available on Audible) and she does a nice job, but I had to speed it up quite a bit because her delivery is slow (or maybe the book was just boring).