A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Search for WondLa is the first book in a dystopian fantasy trilogy by Tony DiTerlizzi. It's the story of a girl named Eva Nine, who was raised underground by a robot but comes to the surface and searches for fellow humans as she tries to survive. A few violent scenes in 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.
- Parents say
- 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.
Talk to your kids 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?
- Author: Tony DiTerlizzi
- Illustrator: Tony DiTerlizzi
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Great Girl Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster
- Publication date: September 21, 2010
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 14
- Number of pages: 512
- Last updated: July 15, 2020
Our editors recommend
For kids who love fantasy
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.