The Search for WondLa

Common Sense Media says

Artwork, great heroine elevate futuristic fantasy.





What parents need to know

Educational value

This imagining of a future world might inspire conversations about what may lie in store for humanity. Eva has never met another human. The tools she uses are greatly advanced beyond today's technology yet still fallible -- they make mistakes and sometimes just don't work.

Positive messages

Eva's Muthr tells her the first rule of survival is to trust technology, but Eva quickly learns that technology is not infallible. She needs to use human instinct, faith, friendship, and her own judgment to navigate her strange world. 

Positive role models

Eva is a strong heroine, surprising even herself with her bravery and resourcefulness. The friction between her and Muthr doesn't negate the strong emotional tie she feels, even though Muthr is a machine. Rovender and Muthr, particularly, are unfailingly polite and readily admit when they've made a mistake. Both are challenged to reconsider their presumptions about each other and Eva.


A hunter kills a young animal then cuts it up into meat. Another young animal is paralyzed and then stripped of skin and bones so it can be preserved and displayed in a museum. These scenes are brief but may be disturbing for some. The hunter is a constant threatening menace. One major character is killed.

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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that a few violent scenes in The Search for WondLa may be upsetting to some readers, even through they're described briefly. A young animal is killed and then sliced up as meat, and another is abruptly killed and preserved as organs, nerves, and blood vessels for display in a museum. A major character dies and others are in nearly constant peril.

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Kids say

What's the story?

Eva Nine has lived all her life in an underground Sanctuary, raised by a robotic Muthr. When a hunter attacks, 12-year-old Eva flees to the surface. Muthr trained her, with holograms and a useful Omnipod, to survive on Earth, but Eva is completely unprepared for the strange (and terrifying) plants and animals she finds. With the hunter Besteel hot on her trail, Eva befriends a water bear named Otto and Rovender Kitt, who guides her through Orbona. Eva treasures a scorched image of a girl with an adult and a robot and the letters \"Wond LA,\" clinging to it as she searches for fellow humans. Besteel drives her to a maritime city, then to the capital and an audience with Queen Ojo. Her quest for answers finally brings her to far-off ruins.

Is it any good?


The Search for WondLa, the first in the WondLa series, starts strong, with a familiar character in a most unfamiliar setting. Eva is at the age where she's itchy to escape her mother's control but anxious about being on her own. The dramatic opening chapters and deftly portrayed relationship between Muthr and Eva sets the stage for a poignant adventure. Strong characters and intriguing themes, however, get bogged down in plodding writing. Action scenes are muddled, and the descriptions of this highly imaginative world fall short.

Luckily, the book features beautiful illustrations by author Tony DiTerlizzi, who also co-wrote The Spiderwick Chronicles. The detailed, moss-toned artwork compensates for the story's descriptive failings. Fans will enjoy plentiful extras, including a map of Orbona and a guide to the alphabet, as well as online content: Three illustrations in the book unlock interactive maps on the affiliated website, which also offers games, desktop wallpaper, and other tie-ins.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about media tie-ins with The Search for WondLa, including illustrations that open interactive maps on the affiliated website, online games, and apps for tablets. Do you think the interactive content enhances the book? 

  • The Search for WondLa is slated to become a movie. Can you picture how a filmmaker might approach the adaptation?

  • What do you think the author is saying about technology and human dependence on it? Does Orbona seem technologically advanced?

Book details

Author:Tony DiTerlizzi
Illustrator:Tony DiTerlizzi
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Great girl role models
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Simon & Schuster
Publication date:September 21, 2010
Number of pages:512
Publisher's recommended age(s):10 - 14

This review of The Search for WondLa was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 9 years old September 28, 2012

Good Book, Little Confusing

I thought this book was really good, but a little confusing, and STRANGE. Eva, raised by a robot? That's weird...
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much violence
Kid, 10 years old February 13, 2015

One of the best books I've ever read.

This book has an amazing story and a great plot. The author does an amazing job making up names for everything and great characters in the plot. The only violence is when Eva is captured twice sometimes violently. The main antagonist carries around a sonic boom rifle that he destroys trees and homes with. At the end a main character dies and leaves Eva along exept for Rovee. There is a taxidermist lab where an animal dies and a plant that takes away your breath. Overall Eva Nine is an amazing character that with a little help managed to survive in an unknown world after her home was destroyed.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 11 years old February 4, 2015


OMG i loved this book. An amazing twist ending. What more of an adventure could a kid wish to read?


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