Vincent Desjardins's Reviews > The Search for WondLa

The Search for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi
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's review
Oct 28, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: children-s-and-young-adult, science-fiction
Read from September 24 to October 12, 2011

** spoiler alert ** Publicity for this book calls it a fairy tale for the 21st century and DiTerlizzi has said he was inspired by the stories of James M. Barrie and L. Frank Baum. I can see a lot of Baum’s influence in this story of a young girl named Eva Nine who has to make her way through a strange new world to find what she is searching for, in this case the secret behind ‘WondLa,’ a damaged panel she has found containing lettering that appears to spell out the word ‘WondLa.’ The panel also contains an image of a human girl and what appears to be an adult figure and a robot, all holding hands. Since Eva has grown up in solitude, the only human in an underground sanctuary, watched over by a robot named Muthr, she is intrigued to see this image showing other humans with a robot companion. She begins to wonder if there are others like herself in the world outside her sanctuary, a place she has been forbidden to explore. When Eva Nine’s sanctuary is attacked by a bounty hunter from the outside world, everything Eva thought she knew about the outside world is turned upside down. She and Muthr are forced to flee and end up on a journey in search of WondLa, hoping to find other humans. Along the way they gain friends and encounter enemies. There are some obvious parallels to Dorothy’s trip across the land of Oz. Like Dorothy, Eva Nine has three companions on her journey and also, like Dorothy, she has an enemy on her tail. Though it’s been compared to a fairy tale, the story is told with the trappings of a science fiction adventure. What it does share with many fairy tales is the premise of someone who leaves the safety of their own world and is thrust into a strange world filled with incredible encounters. Eva Nine is a very sympathetic and likable character as are all of her companions. I found the story imaginative, suspenseful and at times very moving. As an added bonus, the talented DiTerlizzi has created some wonderful illustrations for the book. He’s an amazing artist and his illustrations add another dimension to the reading experience. I found myself constantly going back to study the illustrations after reading the corresponding passages in the text. DiTerlizzi has come up with a clever solution for the secret behind the 'WondLa' panel, which I pretty much guessed before the end of the book, but that didn’t spoil it for me (If you’ve seen a cheesy Sean Connery film of the 1970s called ‘Zardoz,’ you might also guess the secret). The book is a fun read and I’m already looking forward to the next installment in this planned trilogy.
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