The Search for WondLa, Book 1

Book review by
Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media
The Search for WondLa, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Artwork, great heroine elevate futuristic fantasy.

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 4 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

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 & Representations

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.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written bygeorged1 April 11, 2015

OMG! Not just for kids!

My niece read this book and loved it. She was like, "Uncle, in WondLa, Eva finally got out of that tough situation I told you about yesterday!'. So,... Continue reading
Adult Written byEllieshae August 3, 2019

I read this book as a kid and it was wonderful

This was the first book I had ever read of my own accord and I still love it deeply. However, younger children will have a difficult time dealing with the death... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byJ_1019 October 2, 2018

Amazing Book!

A great book that would have to be one of my favourites. It has little violence (only the antagonist destroying her home and carrying a weapon) and is a great f... Continue reading
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 violen... Continue reading

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?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy

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