Review: The Search for WondLa

“The folly of human kind is that it believes it is impervious to decay,” Tony DiTerlizzi

The Search for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi
466 pages
Genre: Fiction, Children’s lit, fantasy
Published by Simon & Schuster, 2010
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Re-readability: I might come back to this one.
Reviewed by Indiana
Spoiler-free review

In this whimsically and wonderfully illustrated adventure story, Eva Nine feels like she’s the only human on the planet. Even though most kids her age feel different from her peers, Eva 9 has perhaps more of a reason to feel this way as she’s been raised by a robot and can’t remember ever seeing another human being. She’s also never been outside of her home, which is more like a dome with capabilities far greater than any smart home we have today.

Until something or someone attacks it and Eva Nine is forced to flee, leaving her robot mother—  called Muthr. Luckily, some of her gear, like her smart clothing and her Omnipod, a device that operates as an assistant and a search engine.

In an adventure that feels somewhere between The Wizard of Oz and Star Wars Eva Nine is determined to find her fellow humans and to find what she’s come to think of as “WondLa.” Along the way she meets plenty of non-humans, some who she befriends and others who she’d rather not have met at all.

Every few pages there’s an elaborate illustration, which I found really added to the story. It was easier to see the story play out as DiTerlizzi imagined it. The Search for WondLa asks what it means to be family, the role that technology plays in our lives, and the importance of following your intuition.

Reading this book was especially fun for me because I was able to interview DiTerlizzi about a year ago and even though we mainly spoke about an exhibition of his work that was going up at the Norman Rockwell Museum, we also took a few minutes to talk about this series. DiTerlizzi said that the world of “WondLa” has been growing and building in his mind for years. He spoke about it so passionately that it inspired me not only to read it but to be motivated about my own “world.”

A well-plotted story in the vein of classic works that can withstand the test of time (and the multitudes of books that will be published thereafter).

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